US science policy: Biden nominates physicist as “scientific advisor”

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday called on physicist Dr. The White House announced that Arati Prabhakar has been nominated to head the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). She will be his new scientific advisor.

Four months after the former head of the OSTP, Professor Eric Lander, resigned over allegations of bullying and harassment, President Biden nominated his successor. Prabhakar has been tasked with spearheading Biden’s science agenda, drawing conclusions from the coronavirus pandemic, and tackling issues such as climate change and clean energy. The Biden government has so far made little progress in these areas because the US Congress is blocking it, the media reported. Biden’s Democratic Party has a slim majority in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, it’s lower than 48 seats to 50 Republicans, but with the help of two independent senators, it could level with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris, who holds the Senate chair, and is considered a majority.

Prabhakar, born in India and raised in Texas, holds a Ph.D. in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. She was the first woman in history to serve as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) under former President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997 and as director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under Barack Obama until 2017—both state agencies, who are engaged in research and development.

Prabhakar’s candidacy for OSTP presidency has not been confirmed by the US Senate. If confirmed, Prabhakar will become the first woman and person of color to serve as a scientific advisor to a US President and President of OSTP. According to media reports, Senate approval could take months.

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