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Pat Gallagher, Undersecretary, Standards and Technology; Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology Pat Gallagher, Undersecretary, Standards and Technology; Director, Nat...

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2013 Technology

Commerce Department

Pat Gallagher, Undersecretary, Standards and Technology; Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Gallagher, 50, joined the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 1993 as a research physicist and instrument scientist, working in a neuron-scattering facility. In 2000, he became the group leader for the facility's operations and, in 2008, NIST's deputy director. Gallagher was confirmed as agency director in 2009 and received the title of undersecretary of Commerce for standards and technology as part of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. Gallagher oversees a 3,000-person agency charged with advancing measurement science, standards, and technology to promote American competitiveness. It also partners extensively with academia and private industry. Gallagher, with his research-science background and ability to quickly grasp technical issues, started with a bachelor's degree in physics and philosophy from Benedictine College and then earned a physics Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He says measurement science plays a crucial role in scientific and technological advances: "If you know how to measure it, then you can begin to learn how to control it, design it, and to shape it." Gallagher oversaw a major reorganization of NIST and also chairs the White House National Science and Technology Council's Standards Subcommittee. He says NIST, which employs scientists, engineers, and others, "is a magnet for some of the coolest people I've ever met. They're smart, they're focused, and they're really dedicated to public service in a way I think would surprise most citizens."

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