Thirty Distinguished Leaders Represent Most Diverse PCAST in U.S. History, Will Develop Science and Technology Recommendations to Address Nation’s Most Pressing Challenges
WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden announced 30 of America’s most distinguished leaders in science and technology as members of his President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). A direct descendant of the scientific advisory committee established by President Eisenhower in 1957 in the weeks after the launch of Sputnik, PCAST is the sole body of external advisors charged with making science, technology, and innovation policy recommendations to the President and the White House.
Drawing from the nation’s most talented and accomplished individuals, President Biden’s PCAST includes 20 elected members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, five MacArthur “Genius” Fellows, two former Cabinet secretaries, and two Nobel laureates. Its members include experts in astrophysics and agriculture, biochemistry and computer engineering, ecology and entrepreneurship, immunology and nanotechnology, neuroscience and national security, social science and cybersecurity, and more.
The members represent the most diverse PCAST in U.S. history. PCAST is traditionally co-chaired by the President’s Science Advisor and 1-2 external co-chairs; since its inception in 1957, no women have ever served as co-chairs. President Biden’s PCAST has two women co-chairs. And, this PCAST reflects the President’s commitment to build an Administration that truly looks like America: for the first time ever, women make up half of PCAST, and people of color and immigrants make up more than one-third of PCAST. Its diversity will help the council bring to bear a wide range of perspectives to address the nation’s most pressing opportunities and challenges, so that science, technology, and engineering benefits all Americans.
“The future of America depends on science and technology like never before,” said PCAST Co-Chair and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Dr. Eric Lander. “President Biden understands that addressing the opportunities and challenges we face – to our health, our planet, our economic prosperity, and our national security – will require harnessing the full power of science and technology. Scientific progress depends on people seeing things in new ways, because they bring different lenses, different experiences, different passions, different questions. This PCAST is uniquely prepared because of its extraordinary scientific breadth, wide range of work experiences, and unprecedented diversity.”
“We are thrilled that some of our most accomplished Americans are willing to step up and serve the nation by being members of PCAST,” saidPCAST Co-Chair Dr. Frances Arnold. “Their vast expertise will help the nation build back better through science and technology.”
“Science and technology permeate so many elements of government decision making,” said PCAST Co-Chair Dr. Maria Zuber. “I am excited to bring this historic and brilliant group’s knowledge, experience, and innovative thinking to bear on the nation’s toughest challenges in science and technology and navigate an equitable and inclusive path forward for the nation.”
As directed in the President’s executive order establishing PCAST, the council includes advisors from outside the federal government who are responsible for advising the President “on matters involving policy affecting science, technology, and innovation, as well as on matters involving scientific and technological information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, the environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics.”
Read more about the PCAST members below. Additional information about PCAST and the PCAST members can be found at www.whitehouse.gov/PCAST.
Frances Arnold, Ph.D., is a biochemical engineer who pioneered how to harness evolution to create proteins, for which she received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and became the first American woman to do so. She holds more than 60 U.S. patents and co-founded three companies in sustainable fuels, chemistry, and agriculture. She is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology.
Eric Lander, Ph.D., is a geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician who serves as the President’s Science Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and is a member of the President’s Cabinet. One of the nation’s leading life scientists, he was a principal leader of the Human Genome Project and was president and founding director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, which propels work on genomic medicine. He was PCAST’s external co-chair during all eight years of the Obama-Biden administration.
Maria T. Zuber, Ph.D., is a geophysicist and planetary scientist who has produced several topography and gravity maps of planetary bodies that exceed the quality and resolution of those for Earth. She has led a dozen experiments on ten NASA missions and was the first woman to lead a NASA planetary mission. She is the Vice President for Research and E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she was the first woman to lead one of the university’s science departments.
Marvin Adams, Ph.D., P.E., is a nuclear engineer and computational physicist who develops and applies complex computational algorithms to problems related to nuclear energy and national security. He has experience in nuclear reactor physics and design, nuclear weapons analysis and modernization, counterproliferation, and arms control. He chairs the Mission Committee at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which oversees the laboratory’s weapons and global security programs, serves on the Nuclear Effects Advisory Panel for the U.S. Department of Defense, and has served for several years on the Stockpile Assessment Team for U.S. Strategic Command. He is the HTRI Professor of Nuclear Engineering, Regents Fellow, and Director of National Laboratories Mission Support in the Texas A&M University System.
Dan E. Arvizu, Ph.D., is a mechanical engineer and an expert in energy materials, process sciences, and technology commercialization with over 30 years of experience in various roles at Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories. He served as Director and Chief Executive of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory during the Obama-Biden administration, in which role he was the first Hispanic to lead a DOE national laboratory. Currently he is a leader in higher education as the Chancellor of the New Mexico State University System, a Land Grant, Space Grant, Hispanic-Serving Institution, bringing a focus on harnessing education, research, and outreach initiatives to foster economic development and social mobility.
John Banovetz, Ph.D., is a chemist, materials scientist, and business leader with over 25 years’ experience in corporate research and technology development, manufacturing, strategy, innovation, and environmental stewardship. He holds multiple patents in polymer science and adhesives, and oversees more than 8,000 researchers worldwide in his role as the Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer and Environmental Responsibility at 3M Company, a leading industrial, worker safety, health care, and consumer goods manufacturing company.
Ashton Carter, D.Phil., is a physicist and technologist who served as the 25th U.S. Secretary of Defense. While serving in the Obama-Biden administration’s Cabinet, he built and restored bridges between the Pentagon and America’s private-sector technology and innovation ecosystem, designed and executed the Defense Department’s strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, opened all the military’s combat positions to women, and lifted the ban on transgender service members. He is Director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Belfer Professor of Technology and Global Affairs at Harvard University.
Frances Colón, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist and science diplomat who served as Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State during the Obama-Biden administration. Her diverse experience in science diplomacy has included coordinating climate change policy for the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, helping American immigrant scientists build networks of scientists to solve problems in their countries of origin, working to advance the careers of women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and leading scientific re-engagement with Cuba. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Colón is currently the Senior Director for International Climate at the Center for American Progress.
Lisa A. Cooper, M.D., M.P.H., is an internal medicine physician, social epidemiologist, and health services researcher who was among the first to document how doctor-patient relationships can help overcome racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. Born in Liberia, she is one of the United States’ leading researchers and practitioners in the field of health equity, having designed innovative approaches to improve physicians’ communication skills, patients’ self-management skills, and the ability of healthcare organizations to address the needs of populations experiencing health disparities. She serves as the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Equity in Health and Healthcare at Johns Hopkins University, and is Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity.
John O. Dabiri, Ph.D., is an aeronautical engineer who designs next-generation wind turbines with the potential to reduce cost, size, and environmental impacts while maximizing the amount of electricity generated. His discoveries on the ideal placement of wind turbines were shaped by his cross-disciplinary research into how jellyfish and schools of fish move throughout the ocean efficiently. A recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship, he is the Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology.
William Dally, Ph.D., is a computer scientist who invented hardware architectures that power parallel computing, modern supercomputers, and artificial intelligence as we know it today; he holds 120 patents and has authored more than 250 papers and 4 textbooks in these fields. The former chair of Stanford University’s computer science department and a frequent consultant to many government defense and intelligence agencies on high-performance computing and artificial intelligence, he is the Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President for Research at NVIDIA, a leading computer chip and technology company.
Sue Desmond-Hellmann, M.D., M.P.H., is a physician-scientist who led the development of the first gene-targeted drug for treating breast cancer. Her medical, scientific, and philanthropic career spans 40 years: from academic medicine and clinical practice studying cancer and HIV/AIDS, to running research and product development at some of America’s top biotechnology companies, to leading higher education at one of California’s marquis graduate institutions, to running the world’s largest private foundation. She is the former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and previously served as Chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she was the first woman to hold that role.
Inez Fung, Sc.D., is an atmospheric scientist and one of the world’s leading experts on climate and the carbon cycle – how carbon dioxide moves throughout the land, oceans, and the atmosphere – and how its movement both depends on and alters our planet’s climate. An immigrant to the United States from Hong Kong and a contributor to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, she is a Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and was the second woman to graduate from MIT with a doctorate in meteorology.
Andrea Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a pioneer in the field of wireless communications whose discoveries have influenced cellular and WiFi networks all over the world: from powering the latest generations of high-speed wireless, to enabling smart home appliances, to preventing cell phone calls from dropping when we walk or drive down the street. She is the Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Princeton University, and was the first woman to win the Marconi Prize, the highest honor in telecommunications research.
Laura H. Greene, Ph.D., is a physicist and expert in quantum mechanics known for her discoveries and research in unconventional superconducting materials and high magnetic fields. She is also a leading advocate for diversity in science and a champion for women in scientific and engineering fields, having promoted the impact of women and young scientists around the world, particularly in developing countries. She is the Chief Scientist of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (at Florida State University, the University of Florida, and Los Alamos National Laboratory) and the Marie Krafft Professor of Physics at Florida State University.
Paula Hammond, Ph.D., is a chemical engineer who designs nanoscale materials that can deliver drugs to specific parts of the body. Her work includes designing tiny particles that target chemotherapy drugs directly to tumor cells, and nanostructured dressings that rapidly stop bleeding to save the lives of soldiers wounded on the battlefield. She is a leading researcher in how to use polymers, nanotechnology, and biomaterials to improve human health. In her past work, she has designed polymers to improve batteries, solar cells, and alternative fuel cells. She is Head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering – where she was the first woman and person of color to hold that position – and an Institute Professor and member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.
Eric Horvitz, Ph.D., M.D., is a computer scientist and a leading researcher in artificial intelligence (AI) and issues at the intersection of technology, people, and society – including the technical and societal challenges and opportunities presented by AI’s uses. He has made influential contributions with developing and fielding frontier technologies in biomedicine, transportation, aerospace, and computing systems and services, and he has been awarded the Feigenbaum Prize and the Allen Newell Award for advances in AI. He is Chief Scientific Officer at Microsoft, where he previously led Microsoft Research.
Joe Kiani, M.S.E.E., is an engineer and entrepreneur who invented breakthrough technologies – now used in hospitals, homes, and even on our wrists – that use light to measure how much oxygen is in a person’s blood. He is listed on more than 500 patents or patent applications on advanced signal processing, optical sensors, and wearable technologies. An immigrant to the United States from Iran at age nine, he is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Masimo Corporation, a global medical technology company known for its pulse oximetry devices and other noninvasive patient monitoring technologies.
Jonathan Levin, Ph.D., is an economist and academic leader widely recognized for his research in industrial organization, technological change, health insurance, allocation of radio spectrum, and the economics of internet markets. In 2011, he was awarded the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal – awarded each year to the American economist under age 40 who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge – which is considered to be among the most noteworthy prizes in the field of economics, second only to the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. He is currently the Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean of the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.
Steve Pacala, Ph.D., is an ecologist and environmental biologist who designs and tests mathematical models to investigate interactions between greenhouse gases, climate, and the biosphere, and to predict their effects on local and global ecosystems. He is the co-author of the climate stabilization “wedge” approach, which argued over 15 years ago that climate change could be solved using science, technologies and industries already within humanity’s grasp. He is the Frederick D. Petrie Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University.
Saul Perlmutter, Ph.D., is an astrophysicist and cosmologist who received the Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering that the expansion of our universe is accelerating. He leads one of NASA’s science teams for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, and also develops and teaches courses on scientific-style critical thinking for scientists and nonscientists alike. Further honors for his groundbreaking research include the Shaw Prize in Astronomy, the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, and the Albert Einstein Medal. He is the Franklin W. and Karen Weber Dabby Professor of Physics and Director of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science at University of California, Berkeley and Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
William Press, Ph.D., is a computer scientist, computational biologist, and astrophysicist who co-discovered the mathematical model for predicting the distribution of masses of galaxies throughout the universe. He previously served as deputy director of Los Alamos National Laboratory and as the Vice-Chair of PCAST during the Obama-Biden administration. He has wide-ranging experience as a researcher and manager across the physical and life sciences in universities and national laboratories, including applications to national security issues. He is the Leslie Surginer Professor of Computer Science and Integrative Biology at The University of Texas at Austin.
Penny Pritzker, J.D., M.B.A., is an entrepreneur, businesswoman, and civic leader who served as the 38th U.S. Secretary of Commerce. As a Cabinet member during the Obama-Biden administration, Pritzker launched and managed the Manufacturing USA network of 16 regional innovation hubs, oversaw the nation’s commercial and atmospheric science and technology agencies, led broadband deployment for underserved communities, administered programs for enhancing cybersecurity, privacy, and intellectual property, and launched the Commerce Department’s first-ever skilled workforce training initiative. She is Chairman and Founder of PSP Partners, Chairman of the Board of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and founded and built several leading businesses over the course of her career.
Jennifer Richeson, Ph.D., is a social psychologist whose research has illuminated how identities – particularly racial identities – are formed and shaped through interactions with others. She is one of America’s leading scholars of interracial interactions, racial identity, bias and prejudice, cultural diversity, social inequality, and injustice. She has received multiple prestigious awards for her work, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship. Richeson is the Philip R. Allen Professor of Psychology and Director of the Social Perception and Communication Lab at Yale University.
Vicki Sato, Ph.D., is a biologist, immunologist, and biotechnology executive with decades of experience leading teams in drug research and development. Molecules and therapeutics developed under her leadership have become critical treatments for HIV, cystic fibrosis, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, and Hepatitis C. She was Chief Science Officer and ultimately President of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, one of the first biotechnology companies to use structure-based and computational chemistries in the design of new drugs. Sato spent several years as Professor of the Practice in the department of Molecular and Cell Biology at Harvard University and Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School, where her work focused on productivity and innovation in biotechnology and pharmaceutical research and development.
Lisa T. Su, Ph.D., is an electrical engineer who is an expert in semiconductor devices and high-performance processors. She pioneered new ways to connect computer chips using copper instead of aluminum, resulting in 20% faster chip speeds. An American immigrant from Taiwan, she is President and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), a leading semiconductor and microprocessor company. She is a recipient of the IEEE Robert N. Noyce Medal (the first woman to receive the award), and has been named Fortune Magazine’s #2 “Business Person of the Year” for 2020 and one of Barron’s “World’s Best CEOs” of 2019.
Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., is a geologist, former NASA astronaut, and oceanographer who served as Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) during the Obama-Biden administration. Sullivan flew on three Space Shuttle missions, including the mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope. She was the first American woman to walk in space, the first woman to dive to the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench (the deepest part of the Earth’s oceans), and is the first and only person to do both. She has previously served in leadership positions in Ohio’s Center of Science and Industry, higher education, the private sector, and the federal government, including as NOAA’s chief scientist.
Terence Tao, Ph.D., is a mathematician known for his breadth of achievement in research covering both pure and applied mathematics, including important contributions to compressive sensing (used in signal processing and cryptography) and number theory. He is a recipient of the Fields Medal, which is often described as the Nobel Prize of mathematics, and a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship. An American immigrant from Australia, he is Professor of Mathematics and the James and Carol Collins Chair in the College of Letters and Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Phil Venables, M.Sc., is a computer scientist, software engineer, and expert in technology, security, and enterprise risk who has co-founded and led multiple corporate and industry-wide cybersecurity initiatives focused on safeguarding critical infrastructure in the financial sector. This includes Sheltered Harbor, FS-ARC, and FS-ISAC, which collectively provide a sector-wide capability to prevent, detect, respond, and recover from cyberattacks against the global financial system. He is Chief Information Security Officer at Google Cloud, a member of the NIST Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board, a Distinguished Expert for the National Security Agency’s Science of Security program, co-founder of the Center for Internet Security, and previously was a Partner, Chief Information Security Officer, and Chief Operational Risk Officer at Goldman Sachs.
Catherine Woteki, Ph.D., is an agriculture and food scientist and nutritionist who served in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics during the Obama-Biden administration, where she oversaw USDA’S Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the National Agricultural Statistics Service. One of the nation’s leading researchers in the fields of human nutrition, food safety, agriculture, and health policy, she previously served as USDA’s first Under Secretary of Food Safety. She is Visiting Distinguished Institute Professor in the Biocomplexity Institute at the University of Virginia and Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University.