William B Bonvillian


Director, MIT Washington Office Adj. Ass't Professor, Georgetown - STIA


Science, Technology and International Affairs (STIA)
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available Thursdays following each Thurs. class, STIA 463.1, MICB 604


William B. Bonvillian --

William B. Bonvillian, since January 2006, has been Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Washington, D.C. Office, reporting to MIT’s President. At MIT, he works to support MIT’s strong and historic relations with federal R&D agencies, and its role on national science policy. He has assisted with major MIT technology policy initiatives, on energy technology, the “convergence” of life, engineering and physical sciences, advanced manufacturing and most recently online higher education. Prior to MIT, he served for seventeen years as a senior policy advisor in the U.S. Senate. His legislative efforts included science and technology policy and innovation issues. He worked extensively on legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security, on Intelligence reform, on climate change, on defense and life science R&D, and on national competitiveness and innovation legislation leading to the America Competes Act in 2007.

He is on the adjunct faculty at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins SAIS, and has taught courses in science and technology policy at Georgetown, Hopkins, MIT and George Washington. He has lectured and given speeches before numerous organizations on science, technology and innovation questions, including the 2012 annual Alan Bromley Memorial Lecture at the University of Ottawa, and invited lectures and talks at the National Graduate Research Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo, American University in Cairo, Carleton College, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Southern Illinois University. He is on the National Academies of Sciences’ standing committee for its Innovation Policy Forum and served for seven years on the Board on Science Education of the Academies, and on four other Academies’ Committees. He also is on the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy, the American Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) Commission on the Science and Mathematics Teaching Imperative (SMTI), the Board of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the Governor of Connecticut’s Transportation Finance Panel, and on the Advisory Council of the Mystic Seaport Museum. He was the recipient of the IEEE Distinguished Public Service Award in 2007 and was elected a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011 for “socially distinguished” efforts “on behalf of the advancement of science and its applications.”

His book (with Distinguished Prof. Charles Weiss of Georgetown), Technological Innovation in Legacy Sectors, concerns the challenge of innovating in legacy economic sectors, was published in the fall of 2015 by Oxford University Press and is summarized at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/technological-innovation-in-legacy-sectors-9780199374519?cc=us&lang=en&.

His book, with Prof. Weiss, entitled Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution, was published by MIT Press in 2009 and is summarized at: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/structuring-energy-technology-revolution.

His book chapters include: “The Problem of Political Design in Federal Innovation Organization” appeared in the Stanford Univ. Press book The Science of Science Policy (spring 2011); “The Connected Science Model for Innovation” appeared in the National Academy book 21st Century Innovation Systems for the U.S. and Japan (May 2009) and “The Once and Future DARPA” in the book Blindside (Brookings Press, Francis Fukuyama, ed., 2007).

His articles in recent years include: in Science: “Advanced Manufacturing Policies and Paradigms for Innovation”, (December 6, 2013); “Two Revolutions in Learning” (with S. Singer), (March 22, 2013); in Science and Public Policy: “New Model Innovation Agencies – An Overview” in (July 2014), v.41 n.4, 425-437; in the Journal of Technology Transfer: “ARPA-E and DARPA: Applying the DARPA model to energy innovation” (with R.VanAtta), (Oct. 2011); in Nature: “A New Strategy for Energy Innovation” (with J. Alic, D. Sarewitz, and C. Weiss), (July 15, 2010); in Environment: “Stimulating a Revolution in Sustainable Energy Technology” (with C. Weiss, July/Aug. 2009); in Innovations: “Reinventing American Manufacturing: the Role of Innovation” (special manufacturing issue Summer 2012), “Complex, Established ‘Legacy’ Sectors: The Technology Revolutions that do Not Happen” (with C. Weiss, Spring 2011); “Taking Covered Wagons East: A New Innovation Theory for Energy and Other Established Sectors” (with C. Weiss, special energy issue Fall 2009); in Technology Analysis and Strategic Management: “Legacy sectors: barriers to global innovation in agriculture and energy” (with C. Weiss), v. 25, no. 10 (Nov. 2013), 1189-1208; in American Interest: “All that DARPA Can Be” (Sept./Oct. 2015); “The Innovation State” (July/Aug. 2009); “Power Play – The DARPA Model and U.S. Energy Policy”, (Nov./Dec. 2006) (reprinted in the book Blindside – above); in Issues in Science and Technology: “Forum: DOD’s Role in Energy Innovation” (Winter 2015) 10-14; “The Online Challenge to Higher Education” (with S. Singer, Summer 2013); “Time for Climate Plan B” (Winter 2011); “Stimulating Innovation in Energy Technology” (with C. Weiss, Fall 2009); “The Politics of Jobs” (Summer 2007); “Meeting the New Challenge to U.S. Economic Competitiveness” (2004); “Organizing Science and Technology for Homeland Security”, (with K.V. Sharp, 2002); in Bridges: “Will the Search for New Energy Technologies Require a New R&D Mission Agency?” (2007); in Technology in Society: “Science at a Crossroads" (2002), and reprinted in the FASEB Journal.

Prior to his work on the Senate, he was a partner at a large national law firm. Early in his career, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Director of Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, working on major transportation deregulation legislation. He received a B.A. from Columbia University with honors, an M.A.R. from Yale Divinity School in religion; and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he also served on the Board of Editors of the Columbia Law Review. Following law school, he served as a law clerk to Hon. Jack Weinstein, a Federal Judge in New York. He has been a member of the Connecticut Bar, the District of Columbia Bar and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar.

See generally, http://www.bonvillian.org.


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  • JD (1974) Columbia Law School ,
  • MAR (1972) Yale Univ., Religion
  • BA (1969) Columbia Univ. , History