> psychologist and neuroscientist will become the next head of the world's largest general science society. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today announced that Alan Leshner, currently head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), will become its new chief executive officer. Leshner, 57, will take over from the retiring Richard Nicholson, 63, on 3 December.
AAAS has nearly 140,000 members, 300 staff, and an $80 million budget. In addition to publishing the journal Science (and ScienceNOW), the group sponsors programs that aim to improve science and math education, boost public understanding of science, and influence government policy. During Nicholson's 12-year tenure, AAAS solidified its finances, built a state-of-the art headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C., and entered the Internet age, putting Science and other information services online.
Leshner hopes to build on that success, he told ScienceNow, but isn't ready to discuss specifics. "AAAS is in terrific shape and that provides an incredible opportunity to expand its leadership role in American science," he said. Leshner leaves NIDA after a 7-year term as director, during which he became known as a politically savvy spokesperson on drug abuse prevention and treatment. After earning a doctorate in psychology at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, in 1969 Leshner became a professor at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1979 he became a staffer at the National Science Foundation and moved to the National Institutes of Health a decade later.
Alan Kraut, director of the American Psychological Society in Washington, D.C., says Leshner is "a perfect choice--he's very excited about putting science front and center in national policy debates."