Washington Update

Arati Prabhakar Confirmed as OSTP Director

By: Ellen Kuo
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
The Senate confirmed Arati Prabhakar, PhD (by a vote of 56-40), as President Biden’s director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and science advisor, a cabinet-level rank. She is now serving in the dual roles. OSTP advises on federal research and development (R&D) and presidential initiatives related to science and technology. Prabhakar is the third Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander to join the cabinet. She is the first female immigrant and person of color to lead OSTP and the first woman to earn a doctorate in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology, where she also earned a master’s in electrical engineering. 

She began her illustrious career in government in the legislative branch as a Congressional Fellow at the Office of Technology Assessment. Additionally, her previous work has involved serving as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and then director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under two administrations. Between her federal service posts, she spent 15 years in Silicon Valley, bringing R&D to deployment as a company executive and a venture capitalist. In 2019, she co-founded Actuate, a private nonprofit, focused on bringing new actors to the table to conduct bold and rigorously managed R&D programs to solve society’s biggest challenges. In her new position, she will work to develop solutions to the challenges of climate, health, trustworthy data and information technology, and open access to opportunity for every person. 

She has received praise from scientific societies and members of Congress, including Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Cantwell underscored Prabhakar’s “exceptional qualifications, experience, and commitment to advancing innovation in science and technology and expanding STEM education and opportunities for women and girls.” 

FASEB sent a letter last week congratulating her and expressing its desire to work with Prabhakar and OSTP on issues critical to the research community.