Floor Speech

Date: May 10, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, I am pleased to support the nomination of Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe to be the Director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy.

President Reagan famously complained that the Department of Energy never ``produced a quart of oil or a lump of coal,'' but that was never the Department's job.

The Department of Energy is as much a Department of Science and Technology as a Department of Energy. For nearly 50 years, it has been at the forefront of scientific discovery and technology innovation. As a seedbed for science, the Department has given us the technologies to increase our energy production and use our resources in a cleaner and more efficient way, and the Office of Science lies at the heart of the Department's science mission.

It is the Nation's largest Federal supporter of basic research in the physical sciences. Its mission is to deliver the ``scientific discoveries, capabilities, and major scientific tools to transform the understanding of nature and to advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States.''

Leading this important scientific enterprise calls for a scientist of great ability and vision. I believe Dr. Berhe is very qualified for this important job. In judging from the long list of academic honors and awards that she has received and the long list of scientific papers that she has written, Dr. Berhe has the scientific credentials this job requires. She is a professor of soil biochemistry at the University of California, where she is also an associate dean of graduate education and holds an endowed chair in Earth Sciences and Geology.

The Office of Science itself has long engaged in basic research relating to soil science and broader ecological questions, whether they be tracing radioactive elements through the atmosphere or the flow of energy, water, and carbon through the Earth's natural systems. So her background is an asset and makes her very well suited to lead the Office of Science.

Dr. Berhe is also an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and she has been a visiting professor at ETH Zurich, where Albert Einstein studied physics. She didn't teach him, but he studied there. She has authored over 100 scientific papers and has received over two dozen honors and awards for her scientific achievements.

She is incredibly well qualified for this important post of leading the Office of Science. I strongly support her nomination, and I urge a favorable vote on her nomination.

I yield back all time.