The United States Department of Agriculture’s research division studies matters such as nutrition, food distribution, and climate change, and, according to the 2008 Farm Bill, is meant to be helmed by a “chief scientist” chosen “from among distinguished scientists.”
Naturally, President Trump is expected to appoint a man with literally no science education, much less a career in the discipline, to head the USDA’s research section, a position officially known as the department’s “undersecretary.” Instead, Trump’s projected pick, Sam Clovis, is a former tenured business and public policy professor at Morning Side college who has hardly even published any work in his field, and has never taken a graduate-level science class, according to a ProPublica article that came out Friday evening. Obviously Clovis is also very skeptical about global warming—after all, he studies business, not science.
Clovis, who currently serves as the USDA’s senior White House advisor, was formerly a Trump campaign advisor, and is reportedly responsible for recruiting Carter Page, the energy industry consultant with ties to the Trump campaign who was investigated last year by the FISA court on suspicions that he was a foreign agent.
ProPublica could’t dig up any writing by Clovis on a scientific topic (no, political science doesn’t count), but he has written an awful lot about terrorism:
“Clovis’ published works do not appear to include any scientific papers. His 2006 dissertation concerned federalism and homeland security preparation, and a search for academic research published by Clovis turned up a handful of journal articles, all related to national security and terrorism.”
Obama’s undersecretary for USDA research, Catherine Woteki, confirmed to ProPublica that this expected appointment is pretty counterintuitive. “This position is the chief scientist of the Department of Agriculture” Woteki, who holds a Ph.D. in human nutrition, said. “It should be a person who evaluates the scientific body of evidence and moves appropriately from there.”
Given the criteria, this Clovis guy does not appear fit to lead the country in its nutrition research. He also does not look well.