Rodney Nichols

About This Director:

Rodney W. Nichols

Consultant on Science and Technology Policy

Rodney W. Nichols was President and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences (1992 to 2001), Scholar-in-Residence at the Carnegie Corporation of New York (1990-1992), and Vice President and Executive Vice President of The Rockefeller University (1970-1990), with physicist Frederick Seitz and geneticist Joshua Lederberg. Earlier he was an R&D manager in the aerospace industry and a special assistant in Office of the Secretary of Defense. He was appointed in 2013 to the Adjunct Faculty of Rockefeller University.

A Harvard graduate and physicist, he is co-author of two books and many papers. He has written on: research strategy; national security; international scientific cooperation; K-12 education; economic development; philanthropy for S&T; and ethical issues in R&D. He spoke at the U.S.-Japan “Innovation Summit” (Nogoya 10/05), at India’s “R&D-Summit” (New Delhi 11/05), on “China, India, and US Science and Technology” (Bangalore 2008), and “Environment for Innovation” (Morocco 7/11). A National Sigma Xi Lecturer, he spoke  at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Duke, and Rockefeller Universities, and in Bangalore, Beijing, Delhi, Chennai, Shanghai, Lima, Rabat, and Osaka, among others, and interviewed by CBS, Fox, Time, NPR, and NY Times.

Mr. Nichols led activities conducted in China, Japan, India, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. He is on the Board of Advisors to Foreign Affairs, and co-chaired the Japan-U.S. Cooperative Science Program of the National Science Foundation. Mr. Nichols served on U.S. government delegations for negotiations on nuclear and chemical arms control, on technology transfer, and on capacity building in developing countries.

Appointed to the Executive Committee of the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government (1989-1994), Mr. Nichols was principal author of the Commission’s January 1992 report entitled Science and Technology in U.S. International Affairs. He was vice chair and co-principal author for the Commission’s December 1992 report on Partnerships for Global Development. He co-authored chapters on “Science and Technology in North America” for UNESCO’s biennial World Science Report (1994, 1996, and 1998), prepared the entry on “Science and Technology” for Oxford’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Foreign Relations (1997), and chaired a project of the Council on Foreign Relations on Technology Policy in Managing Global Warming (2001). He co-edited, and wrote the closing analysis for Technology in Society on “S&T in China, India, and the US” (Aug 2008). He contributed chapters on S&T in Mapping the New World of American Philanthropy, Wiley, 2007, and co-authored “OSTP 2.0,” a study of the White House Science Office, Woodrow Wilson Center, Nov 2008.

Mr. Nichols has advised the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; State, Defense, and Energy Departments; NIH; NSF; Peace Corps; UN; Congressional Office of Technology Assessment; and the National Academies of Science and Engineering. He has given Congressional testimony on both civilian and defense R&D.

His private sector consulting included the research laboratory of GTE, Shell Technology Ventures, and Gotham Orient LLC.  

He currently serves on The Rockefeller University Council, and on the boards of the Research Foundation of the City University of New York, CRDF Global, Manhattan Institute, Federation of American Scientists, and the Alliance For Global Good. Mr. Nichols gave invited testimony in 2007 to the bi-partisan HELP Commission recommending reforms for US foreign assistance. He was a founding judge on the selection panel for the Weizmann Institute’s Women in Science Award and served on the 2005-07 National Innovation Initiative of the Council on Competitiveness. Earlier he served on the boards of the American University of Beirut, Christopher Reeve Foundation, the Critical Technologies Institute (RAND), and ALS Association. He has been an advisor to the Lounsbery Foundation, Simons Foundation, Sloan Foundation, and Woodrow Wilson Center, among others.

Elected a Fellow of the AAAS and of the New York Academy of Sciences, Mr. Nichols is a member of the American Physical Society. He was elected to the Council on Foreign Relations, Sigma Xi, and World Innovation Foundation. He was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Distinguished and Meritorious Civilian Service (1970), the Distinguished Patriot Award of the Sons of the Revolution (1996), and an honorary Doctor of Science by Cedar Crest College (2001). He is a member of the Harvard Club, Century Association, and Cosmos Club.