US President Joe Biden on Tuesday nominated Indian American Dr Aarti Prabhakar as the next White House science adviser as his administration aims to leverage science, technology, and innovation.
If confirmed by the Senate, Dr Prabhakar will be the Biden’s Chief Advisor for Science and Technology, a co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and a member of the President’s Cabinet.
“Today, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Dr. Arati Prabhakar to serve as Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and once confirmed to this position, also as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. In this capacity, Dr. Prabhakar will be the President’s Chief Advisor for Science and Technology, a co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and a member of the President’s Cabinet,” the White House said in a statement.
Biden described Dr Prabhakar as a brilliant and highly-respected engineer and applied physicist.
He said that Indian Americans 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 President Biden.
“I share Dr Prabhakar’s belief that America has the most powerful innovation machine the world has ever seen. As the Senate considers her nomination, I am grateful that Dr. Alondra Nelson will continue to lead OSTP and Dr Francis Collins will continue to serve as my acting Science Advisor,” he added.
Ms Prabhakar has been unanimously confirmed by the Senate before, to lead the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and was the first woman to hold that role.
She later served as director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the birthplace of breakthrough technologies like stealth aircraft and the Internet.
“If confirmed to lead OSTP, Ms Prabhakar would become the third Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander to serve in President Biden’s Cabinet, joining Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Today’s nomination is historic, with Ms Prabhakar being the first woman, immigrant, or person of color nominated to serve as Senate-confirmed director of OSTP,” the White House said.
Dr Arati Prabhakar has led two different federal R&D agencies and worked with startups, large companies, universities, government labs, and nonprofits across a wide variety of sectors to create powerful new solutions for critical challenges. She is an engineer and applied physicist with extensive management and leadership credentials.
Ms Prabhakar’s family immigrated from India to the United States when she was three years old – first to Chicago and then settling when she was age 10 in Lubbock, Texas, where she went on to get her electrical engineering degree from Texas Tech University.
She was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology, where she also earned an M.S. in electrical engineering. She started her career in the legislative branch as a Congressional Fellow at the Office of Technology Assessment.
She is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.