These diverse, deeply experienced scientists and experts will play a key role in shaping America’s future — and will prepare us to lead the world in the 21st century and beyond.
WASHINGTON ― President-elect Joe Biden announced his White House science team — a deeply respected group of diverse and eminently qualified scientists who will marshal the force of science to drive meaningful progress in the lives of people. They will help the Biden-Harris administration confront some of the biggest crises and challenges of our time, from climate change and the impact of technology on society to pandemics, racial inequity and the current historic economic downturn.
The president-elect announced that Dr. Francis Collins will continue in his role as Director of the National Institutes of Health. The president-elect also wrote a letter to Dr. Eric Lander, the Presidential Science Advisor-designate and nominee for Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, tasking him to work broadly and transparently with the diverse scientific leadership of American society and make recommendations on how the Biden-Harris administration can harness the full power of science and technology on behalf of the American people. As a part of this announcement, the president-elect is elevating the role of the Presidential Science Advisor to the Cabinet level for the first time.
President-elect Joe Biden said, “Science will always be at the forefront of my administration — and these world-renowned scientists will ensure everything we do is grounded in science, facts, and the truth. Their trusted guidance will be essential as we come together to end this pandemic, bring our economy back, and pursue new breakthroughs to improve the quality of life of all Americans. Their insights will help America chart a brighter future, and I am grateful they answered the call to serve.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said, “From the coronavirus pandemic to our climate crisis, this past year has reaffirmed the importance of listening to scientists when it comes to meeting the unprecedented challenges facing the American people. These world-renowned scientists and experts reflect the very best of our nation and we are sending a clear message by naming them to these important roles: in our administration, decisions will be informed by the best available science and evidence.”
The science team includes:
- Dr. Eric Lander will be nominated as Director of the OSTP and serve as the Presidential Science Advisor. The president-elect is elevating the role of science within the White House, including by designating the Presidential Science Advisor as a member of the Cabinet for the first time in history. 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 to serve as Presidential Science Advisor.
- Dr. Alondra Nelson will serve as 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.
- Dr. Frances H. Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber will serve as the external Co-Chairs of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). An expert in protein engineering, Dr. Arnold is the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize 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. They are the first women to serve as co-chairs of PCAST.
- Dr. Francis Collins will continue serving in his role as Director of the National Institutes of Health.
- Kei Koizumi will serve as OSTP Chief of Staff and is one of the nation’s leading experts on the federal science budget.
- 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.
The following announcements for the new White House science teams were made by the transition team this week.
Eric S. Lander, Ph.D., OSTP Director and Presidential Science Advisor
Eric Lander is one of the leading and most highly cited scientists in the country, and was one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project. He played a pioneering role in the reading, understanding, and medical application of the human genome — including developing powerful methods for discovering the molecular basis of human diseases.
Lander is president and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, one of the leading non-profit biomedical research institutes in the world, which brings together biologists, clinicians, chemists, engineers, mathematicians, software engineers and computational scientists to propel the understanding and treatment of diseases — and which, since March 2020, has also been a major COVID-19 viral testing lab, processing about 1 in every 30 COVID-19 tests nationwide in recent months and focusing on the needs of public and non-profit settings.
Lander served as co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) during the Obama-Biden administration. He served as a member of the Defense Innovation Board, advising the Secretary of Defense on matters related to technological and organizational innovation. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine, and has received many awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. He was appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences by Pope Francis in 2020. Lander is also Professor of Biology, MIT and Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School. He received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his DPhil from the University of Oxford.
Alondra Nelson, Ph.D., OSTP Deputy Director for Science and Society
Alondra Nelson, President of the Social Science Research Council and Harold F. Linder Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, is an acclaimed researcher and author who explores questions of science, technology, and social inequality.
Nelson serves on the Board of Trustees of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Russell Sage Foundation, and on the Board of Directors of the Teagle Foundation and the Data & Society Research Institute.
Nelson is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Medicine. Nelson received her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her Ph.D. from New York University in 2003. She lives in New York City with her husband and stepson.
Frances H. Arnold, Ph.D., Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
Frances Arnold, Ph.D. is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry and Director of the Rosen Bioengineering Center at the California Institute of Technology. Arnold is the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2018). Active in technology transfer, Arnold co-founded three biotechnology companies in sustainable chemistry and agriculture and has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Arnold is a Director of Illumina and Alphabet. Arnold received the Charles Stark Draper Prize of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama. Arnold was the first woman to be elected to all three National Academies (of Science, Medicine, and Engineering); she was appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences by Pope Francis in 2019. Arnold received her B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
Maria Zuber, Ph.D., Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research and E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics, is responsible for research administration and policy. She oversees MIT Lincoln Laboratory and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research laboratories and centers. She leads MIT’s Climate Action Plan. Zuber has held leadership roles associated with scientific experiments or instrumentation on ten NASA missions, notably serving as principal investigator of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission.
Zuber is the first woman to lead a science department at MIT and the first to lead a NASA planetary mission. She has won numerous honors, including membership in the National Academy of Sciences and American Philosophical Society, and fellowship in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, President Obama appointed Zuber to the National Science Board, and in 2018 she was reappointed by President Trump; she served as board chair from 2016 to 2018. Zuber earned a B.A. in astronomy and geology from the University of Pennsylvania and an Sc.M. and Ph.D. in geophysics from Brown University.
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., will continue in his role as Director of the National Institutes of Health. He was appointed the 16th Director of the NIH by President Barack Obama, confirmed by the Senate, and sworn in on August 17, 2009. On June 6, 2017, President Donald Trump selected Collins to continue to serve as the NIH Director. Collins oversees the world’s largest supporter of biomedical research, spanning basic to clinical research. He plays a pivotal role in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with a mapping of all the genes of the human genome. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH from 1993-2008.
Collins is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007, and received the National Medal of Science in 2009. In 2020, he was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (UK) and was named the 50th winner of the Templeton Prize.
Kei Koizumi, OSTP Chief of Staff
Kei Koizumi (he/him) is the Lead for the National Science Foundation Agency Review team and a member of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Agency Review team on the Biden-Harris Transition. Prior to the Transition, he was Senior Advisor for Science Policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). In the Obama-Biden administration, Mr. Koizumi was Assistant Director for Federal Research & Development and Senior Advisor to the National Science and Technology Council at OSTP. He was also the OSTP representative to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Previously, he was previously the Director of the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, he is from Columbus, Ohio, and now lives in Washington, D.C. with his husband Jeffrey Dutton, who is currently serving overseas with the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service. Mr. Koizumi is a graduate of Boston University and George Washington University.
Narda Jones, OSTP Legislative Affairs Director
Narda Jones most recently served as the Senior Technology Policy Advisor for the Democratic staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. She started working in the United States Senate in 2014 after spending over a decade in senior roles at the Federal Communications Commission.
Previously, Ms. Jones worked at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office. She was also part of the inaugural class of the AmeriCorps Legal Fellowship program and spent her fellowship time aiding homeless families secure housing and public benefits in St. Paul, Minnesota. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Ms. Jones is a graduate of Wesleyan University and Brooklyn Law School.
― Source and photo: Biden-Harris Transition