Update (September 23): The Senate voted 56 to 40 yesterday to confirm Arati Prabhakar as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. She is expected to assume the role in the next week or two, Bloomberg Law reports.
Yesterday (June 21), President Joe Biden nominated Arati Prabhakar to become his chief science advisor, a role she would assume as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Becoming head of the OSTP requires Senate confirmation, a process that could take several months, according to Nature. Prabhakar would become the first Senate-confirmed woman, person of color, and immigrant to head the OSTP and oversee shaping and executing the President’s science agenda, reports the Associated Press.
“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,” President Biden said in the White House’s statement.
When she was three years old, Prabhakar immigrated with her family to the US from India, according to the AP. In 1984, she earned her PhD in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology, reports Science, and in 1993, then-President Bill Clinton appointed her as the first woman to run the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Later, in 2012, President Barack Obama chose her to lead the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where she created a biotechnology office that launched RNA vaccine development, according to Science.
Bart Gordon, a lobbyist and former Democratic representative from Tennessee who chaired the House science committee, says he supports Biden’s choice. “She has all the background you could ask for, and she’s also such a nice person,” Gordon tells Science, adding, “I’m absolutely delighted with the President’s choice.”