Dr Aarti Prabhakar who was on Tuesday nominated by President Biden as as his top science adviser has led two different federal R&D agencies and worked with startups, large companies, universities, government labs, and nonprofits across a wide variety of sectors to create powerful new solutions for critical challenges. She is an engineer and applied physicist with extensive management and leadership credentials.
She served as director of Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) from 2012 to 2017. She oversaw teams that prototyped a system for detecting nuclear and radiological materials before a terrorist can build a bomb, developed tools to find human trafficking networks in the deep and dark web, and that enabled complex military systems to work together even when they were not originally designed to do so. She also established a new office to spur novel biotechnologies, the White House
said. Under her leadership, Darpa kick-started the development of a rapid-response mRNA vaccine platform, making possible the fastest safe and most effective vaccine development in world history in response to Covid-19.
Prabhakar was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate to lead the National Institute of Standards and Technology, taking the helm at age 34 as the first woman to lead the agency, the White House said. Her family immigrated from Delhi to the US when she was age three. She was the first woman to earn a PhD in applied physics from California Institute of Technology. Between 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.