Engineering Management & Systems Engineering;
School of Engineering & Applied Science

Doctoral Student Named Executive Director of the White House National Science and Technology Council


In February 2009, doctoral student Christyl C. Johnson was named Executive Director of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) in the Executive Office of the President.

In her new position, Christyl says that “the re-establishment of the National Science and Technology Council is going to be an amazing challenge - loaded with fun. With a president that has a real interest in the utilization of science and technology to address the challenges facing our nation, the NSTC's role is going to be greater than it ever has been in the past. I am very hopeful that we will be able to increase our role and contribute in a significant way to addressing challenges in energy, the environment, and natural resources.”

The National Science and Technology Council is a Cabinet-level council that coordinates science and technology policy within the Executive Branch of the Federal government. Chaired by President Obama, the membership of the NSTC is made up of the Vice President, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Cabinet Secretaries and Agency Heads with significant science and technology responsibilities, and other White House officials.
A primary objective of the NSTC is the establishment of clear national goals for Federal science and technology investments in a broad array of areas spanning virtually all the mission areas of the Executive Branch. The Council prepares research and development strategies that are coordinated across Federal agencies to form investment packages aimed at accomplishing multiple national goals. The work of the NSTC is organized under four primary committees: Science, Technology, Environment and Natural Resources and Homeland and National Security. Each of these committees oversees subcommittees and working groups focused on different aspects of science and technology and working to coordinate across the federal government.

Before going to the White House, Christyl was an Assistant Associate Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In that position, she assisted the Associate Administrator in the oversight of the agency's technical mission areas and field center operations.

Christyl came to the Office of the Administrator from the Office of the Chief Engineer. There she served as the Deputy Chief Engineer for Program Integration and Operations providing an integrated focus for the development, maintenance, and implementation of agency engineering and program/project management policies, standards and practices.

Prior to her appointment to the Office of the Chief Engineer, Christyl served as the Associate Director for Exploratory Missions in the Office of Earth Science, managing the formulation and development for all exploratory space missions. She also worked with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Goddard Space Flight Center, Langley Research Center, as well as several international and industry partners for the mission development activities.

Christyl began her career in 1985 at Langley Research Center in the Remote Sensing Technology Branch, designing and building laser systems for advanced active remote sensors. In 1991 she was selected as the program manager and lead engineer for the Diode-Pumped Cr:LiSAF Technology Development Program. Under her leadership a state-of-the-art, first of its kind, laboratory for stress optic coefficient measurement of laser crystals was established.

Prior to starting her gradute work at GW, Christyl got her Bachelor’s degree in physics from Lincoln University, and a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from Penn State.