Washington Update

President Biden Nominates New Science Advisor

By: Jennifer Zeitzer
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
On June 21, President Joseph Biden announced his intent to nominate Arati Prabhakar, PhD, as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and assistant to the president for science and technology. The dual titles indicate that Prabhakar will be Biden’s chief advisor for science and technology and attend cabinet meetings. She will also co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Former OSTP Director Eric Lander also held both titles prior to leaving the administration.

“Dr. Prabhakar is a brilliant and highly respected engineer and applied physicist and will lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy to leverage science, technology, and innovation to expand our possibilities, solve our toughest challenges, and make the impossible possible,” said Biden in a statement confirming her nomination.

Prabhakar was previously unanimously confirmed by the Senate to lead the National Institute of Standards and Technology and as director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. If confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first woman, immigrant, or person of color to serve as OSTP Director.

In 2019, she founded Actuate, a nonprofit organization working to develop solutions to the challenges of climate change, health, and trustworthy data and information technology. She has a degree in electrical engineering degree from Texas Tech University and an MS in electrical engineering and PhD in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology. 

The White House issued a subsequent statement noting that Prabhakar’s nomination received strong support from members of Congress, former presidential science advisors, other federal agency officials, and the scientific community. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee is expected to consider Prabhakar’s nomination although the schedule of confirmation hearings has not yet been announced.