Politics Biden chose the first woman, a man of color,...

Biden chose the first woman, a man of color, as a science advisor

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WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden has nominated a former head of two federal science and engineering agencies as his science adviser, becoming the first woman of color and immigration to hold that cabinet-level position, if confirmed by the Senate. .

Biden nominated engineer and physicist Aarti Prabhakar, who during the Obama administration advanced the James Bond-like Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with the Internet and stealth aircraft management, including the White House. Office of Science and Technology Policy. Prabhakar helped start work at DARPA, which eventually led to the RNA vaccine type. Used to develop shots for COVID-19. In the 1990s, at the age of 34, she became the first woman and youngest person to run the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Prabhakar will take over after Biden’s initial science adviser Eric Lander resigns He threatened staff amid complaints about how he behaved with colleagues during the White House trial. This is the first time the Biden government has resigned. Lander It has been criticized in the past for undermining the contribution of women in science. He was replaced by Prabhakar, the first woman to receive a doctorate in Applied Physics from Caltech after earning a Masters and Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.

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    “She’s a very intelligent, obvious, philosopher who makes things happen,” said Kelvin Drogenmeer, Trump’s science adviser, who said he did not know her personally but had heard a discussion about her at the National Academy of Sciences. Did not belong. “

    Drogenmeer said Prabhakar’s first and foremost role was to restore confidence and integrity in the OSTP, and I have no doubt she can do it.

    In nominating her, Biden called Prabhakar “a brilliant and highly respected engineer and applied physicist” who assisted in the use of science and technology to “solve our difficult challenges and make the impossible possible”. This job involves dealing with climate change, public health, defense, energy and technical issues.

    Sudeep Parikh, Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Prabhakar’s work at DARPA, the largest general science society, has led to guidance on RNA technology. Underlying COVID-19 vaccines. “

    Prabhakar immigrated with her family from New Delhi to Chicago and Texas when she was 3 years old. After receiving her PhD, Prabhakar worked for DARPA and later became the first person to run its microelectronics office. She then ran the NIST on Engineering Standards. Among government platforms, she has served as Executive and Venture Capitalist in Silicon Valley and in 2019 founded her research nonprofit Actuate.

    When Lander resigned earlier this year, he was replaced by Francis Collins, former director of the National Institute of Health, and Alondra Nelson, deputy director of policy at the Office of Science and Technology. Nelson and other women previously headed the Office of Science and Technology on an acting basis, but no one until Prabhakar was nominated for a permanent Senate-certified position.

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    Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter Boren Bears



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