Bush Picks Physicist As New NASA Chief

President Bush on Friday picked Johns Hopkins University physicist Michael D. Griffin to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Sean O'Keefe (search) left NASA last month after three years as the space agency's administrator to become chancellor of Louisiana State University. Former space shuttle commander Frederick Gregory has been acting administrator since then.

Griffin currently serves as head of the Space Department at Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Laboratory.

Previously, he was president and chief operating officer of In-Q-Tel, a CIA-bankrolled venture-capital organization.

Earlier in his career, Griffin worked at NASA (search) as chief engineer and as deputy for technology at the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization.

He has a bachelor's degree in physics from Johns Hopkins and advanced degrees from Catholic University, the University of Maryland, the University of Southern California, Loyola College and George Washington University.

In all, Griffin holds seven degrees in physics, electrical engineering, aerospace engineering, civil engineering and business administration.

His earlier stint at NASA was during the administration of Bush's father.

The selection was praised by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

"President Bush's choice for the new administrator of NASA is the right one," DeLay said. "Dr. Griffin will propel NASA into the next phase of America's mission in space."