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Vernon J. Ehlers, PhD Former U.S. Representative
U.S. Representative Vernon J. Ehlers of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was sworn in on January 6, 2009, to serve his eighth and final full term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was first elected to the 103rd Congress in a special election on December 7, 1993. The first research physicist to serve in Congress, Dr. Ehlers has been recognized for his strong work ethic and proven leadership skills in his duties on Capitol Hill. He joined Congress following a distinguished tenure of service in teaching, scientific research, and public service. He has served on numerous boards and commissions and was elected to the Kent County (Mich.) Board of Commissioners and the Michigan House and Senate.
As a member of the 111th Congress, Ehlers served on three standing House committees, including the Science and Technology Committee (previously known as the House Science Committee). During his tenure on the committee, he oversaw the writing of the nation’s first major statement on science policy since 1945. He also co-chaired the STEM Ed Caucus, which is dedicated to improving the nation's K–12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Ehlers was also a member of the Education and Labor (previously the Education and the Workforce) Committee, where he blended his efforts with the Science Committee on improving math and science education. From 1995 to 2008, he served as Ranking Republican and Chairman on the House Administration Committee. During his tenure on the committee, he was instrumental in the effort to connect the House of Representatives with the Internet and the creation of the Library of Congress’s Thomas website, which allows anyone to look up legislation being considered by Congress, laws that have been passed, and other information about Congress.
Prior to Congress, Ehlers served eleven years in the Michigan Legislature, with just over two years in the House and nine years in the Senate, where he finished his tenure as President Pro-Tem. He also served eight years on the Kent County Board of Commissioners, including three years as chairman. In 1960, after three years of studying at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Ehlers transferred and received his undergraduate degree in physics and his PhD in nuclear physics from the University of California at Berkeley. After six years of teaching and research at Berkeley, he moved back to Grand Rapids, where he taught physics for sixteen years at Calvin College, and later served as Chairman of the Physics Department. During his tenure there, Ehlers also served as a volunteer science advisor to then-Congressman Gerald R. Ford.
Roles of Industry, Academia, and Government in Addressing Competitiveness Through Education and Technology
as author at MIT World Series: Learning without Barriers / Technology without Borders,
together with: Lawrence S. Bacow, Richard Lampman, Richard (Rick) F. Rashid, Diane Jones, Deborah Wince-Smith (moderator),