The Senate yesterday gave its nod to President Obama's picks for key science slots in his administration. Both appointees are leading advocates of aggressive government action to stem and reverse climate change.

Lawmakers confirmed Harvard physicist John Holdren as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Jane Lubchenco as chief of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Lubchenco, 61, a marine biologist, becomes the first woman to head the agency, which oversees the National Weather Service and ocean and atmospheric research.

Holdren is well-known for leading the charge to reduce the threat of global warming as well as to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. As Obama's top science adviser, he will help sculpt science and tech policy.

Lubchenco, formerly at Oregon State University, has also been a strong advocate of tackling climate change and has been sounding the alarm on the dangers of overfishing and pollution on the world's oceans.

Echoing the sentiments of Obama, the new NOAA chief told the Associated Press that she will rely on science—and not politics—to fashion policy and decisions.

"This is a new era," she said. "Many issues will be seen through a different lens."

Both Holdren and Lubchenco were former heads of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the nation's largest science organization.

Photo of Jane Lubchenco courtesy of the Obama–Biden Transition Project; John Holdren/Tom Fitzsimmons