Joe Biden Nominates Indian-American Dr Arati Prabhakar as Top Scientific Adviser

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden nominated Indian-American scientist, Dr Arati Prabhakar, as Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Once confirmed by the Senate, Dr Prabhakar will make history as the first woman, immigrant or head of the OSTP. “Dr Prabhakar is a brilliant and highly respected engineer and applied physicist, and he will lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy for Science, Technology and Innovation to expand our potential, solve our most difficult challenges and make the impossible possible,” Biden said.

If confirmed, Prabhakar will be the third Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific islander to serve in President Biden’s cabinet, which will be joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and US Trade Representative Katherine Tie. Today’s nomination is a historian, Prabhakar, the first woman, immigrant or person of colour to be nominated as OSTP’s Senate-confirmed director, the White House said.

Arati Prabhakar was previously unanimously confirmed by the Senate as head of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the first woman to hold the position. She later served as the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) director, an agency with breakthrough technologies such as stealth aircraft and the Internet. Indian-Americans welcomed the nomination.

To date, Dr Prabhakar has led two different federal R&D agencies and has worked with start-ups, large corporations, universities, government labs and non-profit organisations in various industries to create powerful new solutions to key challenges. She is an engineer and applied physicist with broad management and leadership qualifications.

Prabhakar served as DARPA director from 2012 to 2017. At DARPA, she oversaw a team that prototyped a system to detect nuclear and radioactive material before terrorists could build bombs and developed tools to find human-trafficking networks in the deep and dark web to allow sophisticated military systems to Work together, even if they weren’t originally designed that way. She also opened a new office to advance the development of novel biotechnologies, the White House said.

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