President Obama will nominate Patrick Gallagher, the acting head of the Commerce Dept.'s National Institute of Standards and Technology, to be its director, the White House announced on Sept. 10.

NIST, Gallagher
Photo: D.Anderson/NIST
Gallagher has been NIST deputy director since 2008.

For the construction industry, NIST's key unit is its Building and Fire Research Laboratory, which includes the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, as well as applied economics, material and construction research, building environment and fire research offices.

The lab's best-known recent project was a three-year building and fire safety investigation of the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center disaster. NIST's final report of that probe was released in October 2005.

The 46-year-old Gallagher joined NIST in 1993 in its Center for Neutron Research to work in neutron and X-ray instrumentation and study liquids, polymers and gels. He was named the neutron-research center's director in 2004 and promoted to NIST deputy director in September 2008. He also has been serving as NIST's acting director since that time.

Gallagher received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pittsburgh in 1991.

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke said, "Pat Gallagher has come up through the ranks and his continued leadership will be critical to an agency that is central to the nation�s ability to innovate and compete in global markets."

To read more about NIST's Building and Fire Research lab, see

NIST, which has facilities in Gaithersburg, Md., and Boulder, Colo., began in 1901 as the National Bureau of Standards. In 1988, Congress changed the bureau's name to the National Institute of Standards and Technology and gave it new responsibilities in technology and manufacturing.