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Indian-American Arati Prabhakar nominated as top science advisor by Biden

Indian-American Arati Prabhakar nominated as top science advisor by Biden

Washington: Joe Biden has nominated Indian-American scientist, Dr Arati Prabhakar, as a top science advisor to the US President. The White House as well as the Indian-American community has welcomed this decision and has termed it as "historic."

If this nomination is confirmed by the Senate, that would make Dr Prabhakar the first woman, immigrant, or person of colour to head Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), in a feat of history. She will also be the latest among the highly-qualified professional from the Indian-American community to be given a key position in the Biden administration.

"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," Biden said on Tuesday.

"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 said.

Once her post is confirmed, she would be the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. Dr Prabhakar will also 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.

In addition, if confirmed to lead OSTP, Prabhakar, 63, would become the third Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander to serve in President Biden's Cabinet, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai. "Today's nomination is historic, with Prabhakar being the first woman, immigrant, or person of colour nominated to serve as Senate-confirmed director of OSTP," the White House said.

The Senate had previously unanimously confirmed Dr Prabhakar to lead the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), making her 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.

Prabhakar's nomination was welcomed by the Indian Americans. "Indian American Impact is thrilled to learn that President Biden intends to nominate Dr Arati Prabhakar as Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). We applaud the President for his historic decision, which uplifts not only the exceptionally qualified Dr Prabhakar, but all South Asians and Asian Americans who aspire to reach new heights and become leaders within public service and the scientific community," said Neil Makhija from the Indian American Impact Fund.

"It's incredible to see the President nominate Dr Prabhakar to be the first woman, the first person of colour, and the first immigrant to lead OSTP as we observe Immigrant Heritage Month this June," said Varun Nikore, executive director of AAPI Victory Alliance.

Dr Prabhakar has to date led two different federal R&D agencies and collaborated with startups, large companies, universities, government labs, and nonprofits in various fields to create robust new solutions to serious challenges. She is an engineer and applied physicist with extensive management and leadership credentials.

The White House also said that from 2012 to 2017, Prabhakar served as director of DARPA. In this capacity, she supervised teams that prototyped a system for identifying nuclear and radiological objects before a terrorist can build a bomb, created tools that assisted them to find human trafficking networks in the deep and dark web, and enabled complex military systems to work together even when they were not originally designed for the same. A new office to spur novel biotechnologies was also established by her.

the development of a rapid-response mRNA vaccine platform was started by the DARPA Under her leadership, that enables the fastest, safest and most effective vaccine development in world history in response to COVID-19, it said.

The White House also said that Prabhakar at the age of 34 was unanimously confirmed to lead the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by the US Senate becoming the first woman to lead the agency.

When she was three, Prabhakar's family immigrated to the United States from Delhi - first to Chicago and then to Lubbock in Texas at the age of 10, where she graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University.

She was the first woman to receive a PhD in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology, where she also earned an MS degree in electrical engineering. She began 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. Between her Federal leadership roles, Prabhakar spent 15 years in Silicon Valley, helping bring R&D to deployment as a company executive and as a venture capitalist.

Source -PTI

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TAGS:Arati Prabhakar Joe Biden White House 
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