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Biden energy official steps down after pushing office to adopt DEI initiatives
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Biden energy official steps down after pushing office to adopt DEI initiatives

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, a top official with the United States Department of Energy, who injected the department's science office with diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives during her tenure, will step down from her position at the end of the month, Fox News Digital reported.

Berhe, a professor of soil biogeochemistry, was nominated in April 2021 by President Biden to serve as the director of the Office of Science within the DOE. She was confirmed by the Senate in a 54-45 vote.

According to the DOE's website, Berhe's areas of expertise include "soil science, global change science, and political ecology with an emphasis on how the soil system regulates the earth's climate and the dynamic two-way relationship between the natural environment and human communities."

During her time as the head of science, Berhe has pushed her office to adopt "equity and inclusion" initiatives. In October 2022, Berhe implemented a policy requiring grant applicants "to submit a Promoting Inclusive and Equitable Research (PIER) Plan as an appendix to their proposal narrative," according to the Office of Science's website. The plan mandated applicants to describe how they would "incorporate to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in their research projects."

"The Office of Science (SC) is deeply committed to supporting diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible work, research, and funding environments that value mutual respect and personal integrity, and SC is committed to promoting people of all backgrounds, including individuals from groups and communities historically underrepresented in STEM fields and SC activities in recognition of our responsibility to serve the public," the website read.

Berhe also oversaw the adoption of two workforce diversity programs: Funding for Accelerated, Inclusive Research and Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce.

The FAIR program provided $35 million in fiscal year 2023 to advance a "diverse, vibrant, and excellent scientific workforce," Fox News Digital reported. In August, the DOE announced $37 million to "build research capacity in historically underrepresented institutions."

The RENEW program provided $56 million to "institutions historically underrepresented in the SC research portfolio."

When the initiative was announced, Berhe stated, "Science needs to hear from all American voices and the RENEW initiative will provide more opportunities to bring diverse perspectives into our disciplines."

"These new and innovative ideas will help solve the big science challenges we are facing now and in the future," she said.

In a statement to Fox News Digital regarding Berhe's upcoming exit, DOE Chief of Staff Christopher Davis said, "Under Dr. Berhe's leadership, the Office saw historic increases in funding, particularly for critical new technologies like artificial intelligence and fusion energy."

"Programs she oversaw have made critical contributions to climate science, energy breakthroughs, and the advancement of emerging technologies, all while infusing the principles of equity, inclusivity, and accessibility. The Secretary and I are grateful for Dr. Berhe's willingness to serve the American people and wish her the very best as she returns to academia," Davis remarked.

Berhe plans to return to the University of California to continue her professorship career. In her departure letter, Berhe called the role "the honor of my lifetime," Science reported. She noted that she is leaving the position with "pride in what we have accomplished, and a heavy heart filled with profound sadness and gratitude."

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →