President Biden Announced Key Picks for OSTP and PCAST

January 21, 2021

Days before taking office, then President-Elect Biden announced appointments to the Office of Science Policy and Technology (OSTP) and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The timing of these appointments demonstrates a strong interest in and commitment to science in the next administration. Under the previous administration, the position of OSTP Director sat empty for nearly two years. Acting quickly to make OSTP appointments was a recommendation made by many scientific societies, including FABBS, in a transition memo

Biden further elevates the role of science within the White House by designating the Presidential Science Advisor as a member of the Cabinet for the first time in history.

In the announcement, then President-Elect Biden underscored the importance of science in advancing his top priorities: addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice, economic recovery, and climate change. Biden also listed positioning the United States as a leader in new technologies and industries of the future as a priority for the team. 

Biden tasked the team with looking towards the future, including priorities for FABBS societies — to increase engagement with communities traditionally underrepresented in science and technology, and to have a voice in science and technology policy. 

“This team will also work to ensure the long-term health of science and technology in our country  raising the call to service for those interested in science and technology, and thinking of ways to reimagine STEM education.” 

FABBS members should note the inclusion of an expert in social sciences in his list of appointments to ensure decision-making takes into account the impact on society as a whole, particularly vulnerable communities.

Key nominations include:

  • Dr. Eric Lander, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) serving as the Presidential Science Advisor. One of the country’s leading scientists, Dr. Lander was a principal leader of the Human Genome Project and has been a pioneer in the field of genomic medicine. He is the founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, one of the nation’s leading research institutes. During the Obama-Biden Administration, he served as external Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Dr. Lander will be the first life scientist chosen to serve as Presidential Science Advisor.
  • Dr. Alondra Nelson, OSTP Deputy Director for Science and Society. A distinguished scholar of science, technology, social inequality, and race, Dr. Nelson is president of the Social Science Research Council, an independent, nonprofit organization linking social science research to practice and policy. She is also a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, one of the nation’s most distinguished research institutes, located in Princeton, NJ. In her comments Dr. Nelson said, “Science at it’s core, is a social phenomena.” See her remarks here.
  • Kei Koizumi, OSTP Chief of Staff. Koizumi has spent much of his career at the American Association for the Advancement of Science and served in the Obama OSTP with FABBS President-Elect Philip Rubin. He is a friend of FABBS and one of the nation’s leading experts on the federal science budget. 
  • Dr. Frances H. Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber, Co-Chairs of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). They are the first women to serve as co-chairs of PCAST. An expert in protein engineering, Dr. Arnold is the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry. Dr. Zuber, an expert in geophysics and planetary science, is the first woman to lead a NASA spacecraft mission and has chaired the National Science Board.
  • Dr. Francis Collins will continue in his role as Director of the National Institutes of Health.
  • Narda Jones, who will serve as OSTP Legislative Affairs Director, was Senior Technology Policy Advisor and Counsel for the Democratic staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

You may watch the announcement here: Biden Science Team Nominations