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Arati Prabhakar confirmed as Biden’s science adviser

The former head of DARPA and NIST now leads White House OSTP

by Andrea Widener
October 6, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 36


Prabhakar and Nelson stand facing each other in front of a sign that reads Office of Science and Technology Policy. Prabhakar has her right hand raised.
Credit: White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Arati Prabhakar is sworn in as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy by Deputy Director Alondra Nelson.

The new director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and President Joe Biden’s science adviser, Arati Prabhakar, was sworn in Oct. 1, after being confirmed by the US Senate. She is the first woman, first immigrant, and first person of color to serve as OSTP director.

Prabhakar is an experienced government leader. She was director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) from 2012 to 2017 and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) from 1993 to 1997. She also spent 15 years working in Silicon Valley, most recently at Actuate, a nonprofit that aims to use R&D to address societal challenges like climate change and prevention of chronic diseases. She has a PhD in electrical engineering and applied physics from the California Institute of Technology.

“Her wide array of academic, government, and private sector experience make her uniquely qualified to serve as OSTP Director,” Mark Becker, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, says in a statement. “She brings a big, bold vision for pathbreaking science that solves grand challenges, saves lives, and improves quality of life.”

Prabhakar takes over OSTP from Acting Director Alondra Nelson, who will return to her role as the office’s deputy director for science and society. The previous OSTP director, Eric Lander, was forced to resign in February after allegations surfaced of harassment and bullying behavior.



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