Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Lab heard from a man who has the president's ear on science and technology.

Dr. John Holdren is the assistant to the president for science and technology, and the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

He spoke at ORNL Thursday as part of a distinguished lecture series.

Holdren addressed budget concerns, noting that despite some cutbacks, science and technology remain a top priority for President Obama.

That focus includes research and development and education.

"And he puts that high priority there because he understands how important science, technology and innovation and STEM education are for the future of our economy, for the future of the health of the American people, for the future of our environment, for how we manage the challenge at the intersection of energy supply and climate change and of course for national and homeland security," said Dr. John Holdren.

Holdren praised ORNL's efforts to encourage partnerships with private businesses that help launch research and development ideas into usable products in the market place.