A University of British Columbia physics professor and recent Nobel Laureate is shedding his academic trappings and heading to work for President Barack Obama.

Carl Wieman, who won the Nobel Prize in physics for the creation of a new form of matter in 2001, has officially accepted a position of Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

President Obama praised Wieman and three other new White House administrators in a press release issued to media.

"I am grateful that these exceptional individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."

Wieman joined UBC's Faculty of Science in 2007 as director of the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI) to transform science teaching and learning at UBC and beyond.

He splits his time between Vancouver and the University of Colorado, where he heads a similar program aimed at transforming post-secondary science programs.

UBC President Stephen Toope believes the professor will affect a wider change in science education in the U.S. with his new position.

"We wish him the best in Washington and look forward to him rejoining us," he said in a statement.

Wieman's work with the CWSEI has attracted international attention and support. The program recently received a $2-million gift from Google's founding investor and UBC alumnus, David Cheriton.

Wieman is taking a leave of absence from UBC for the duration of his appointment.