U.S. President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate physicist Patrick Gallagher to be the 14th director of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, www.nist.gov). Gallagher, 46, is currently the NIST deputy director.

If confirmed by the Senate, Gallagher will direct the agency with an annual budget of approximately $800 million and approximately 2,900 scientists, engineers, technicians, support staff and administrative personnel at two primary locations: Gaithersburg, Md., and Boulder, Colo. Gallagher will succeed William Jeffrey, who left NIST in 2007.

The NIST provides the nation’s standard time service and conducts research in measurement science, standards, and related technologies in physical sciences, engineering and information technology.

The agency also is home to the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (www.mep.nist.gov), a nationwide network of local centers offering technical and business assistance to smaller manufacturers; the Technology Innovation Program, which provides cost-shared awards to industry, universities and consortia for research on potentially revolutionary technologies that address critical national and societal needs; and the Baldrige National Quality Program (www.baldrige.nist.gov), which promotes performance excellence among U.S. manufacturers, service companies, educational institutions, health care providers and nonprofit organizations.

Gallagher, who has a doctorate in physics from the University of Pittsburgh (www.pitt.edu), came to the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) in 1993 to pursue research in neutron and X-ray instrumentation and studies of soft-condensed matter systems such as liquids, polymers and gels.

In 2000, Gallagher was a NIST agency representative at the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC, www.ostp.gov/cs/nstc) and became active in U.S. policy for scientific user facilities. In 2006, he was awarded a Department of Commerce Gold Medal, the department’s highest award, in recognition of this work. In 2004, he became director of the NCNR, a national user facility for neutron research that is considered one of the most productive and heavily used facilities of its type in the nation. In September 2008, he was appointed deputy director of NIST.

Gallagher is active in a variety of professional organizations and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (www.aaas.org).