A University of British Columbia physics professor has been nominated for a position in President Barack Obama's White House.

The U.S. president nominated Prof. Carl Wieman as his associate director of science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Wieman won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics for the creation of a new form of matter.

He divides his time between UBC's Vancouver campus and the University of Colorado, where he heads similar programs aimed at transforming science instruction at post-secondary institutions.

UBC president Stephen Toope says it's not surprising Obama would seek Wieman out for the White House role because in the three years since he arrived at UBC, his work has attracted international attention.

Wieman will take an unpaid leave of absence from UBC if his appointment is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.