George H. Atkinson


Distinguished Alumni Service Award (2004)
Ph.D., 1971


In August 2001, Dr. George Atkinson served as the first American Institute of Physics Senior Fellow for Science, Technology, and Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State. He was selected as the result of a national competition. He focused on identifying future Science and Technology (SUT) directions of importance to US foreign policy while working in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Bureau for European and Eurasian Affairs. These efforts included extended reviews of U.S. bilateral S&T policies during is its to France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Sweden, the initiation of a new generation of U.S./E.U. dialogues on advanced S&T topics for foreign policy-makers designed to identify those "at-the-horizon" research areas meriting international attention and eventually mutual support 9"Perspectives on the Future of Science and Technology" conferences), and an expanded analysis of US-Russian S&T research under non-proliferation programs resulting in a new public-private partnership ("Market-based Commercialization Initiative (MCI)").

Independently, Dr. Atkinson formulated a novel program ("Jefferson Science Fellows (JSF)" program) that would create a new relationship between the American scientific and engineering communities and the U.S. Department of state (the planning effort is supported by a MacArthur Foundation grant). Tenured American scientists and engineers from universities would spend one year in the Department of State before returning to their academic careers while remaining available as consultants to the Department for an additional five years. The MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corp., together with a large number of distinguished American universities, have recently agreed to support a three-year pilot program to initiate the JSF program in 2003. About $4 million in non-government support has been committed to the JSF program.

Currently, Dr. Atkinson serves in the Department of State as a Senior Advisor for Science and Technology. As such, he remains engaged in a wide range of international science policy issues and in creating a new governmental framework within which the societal consequences of scientific and technological advances can be rapidly identified and accurately evaluated. Of particular interest has been the formulation of a new series of "Global Symposia on Emerging Science and Technology" being organized with the U.S. National Academies and an effort to engage the S&T community in Iraq not engaged in WMD activities. The latter focuses on creating a mentoring relationship between the Iraqi and American S&T communities located in Universities through a grants program to rebuild the Iraqi educational and basic research infrastructure and personnel.

Dr. Atkinson is also a Professor of Chemistry and Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona (on leave). He is the recipient of the Senior Alexander von Humboldt Award (Germany), the Senior Fulbright Award (Germany), the Lady David Professorship (Israel), and the SERC Award (Great Britain). He has been a visiting professor at distinguished Universities and research institutions in Japan, Great Britain, Germany, Israel and France. He has more than 170 publications in referred scientific journals and books, as well as more than 66 U.S. and foreign patents. He has also received numerous awards in recognition of his teaching including "outstanding teacher at the University of Arizona" as selected by the students.