Biden has newly appointed the White House science advisory team. Who are the bigwigs?
Unlike Trump, who elected the White House Science Advisor 18 months after taking office, on January 16, US time, Biden announced the new White House Science Leadership Team members before his official appointment. Trump’s disbelief in the COVID-19 virus and global warming is well known. During his tenure, he set a record for the longest time spent in selecting White House scientific advisers. And the selected scientific advisory team has never been taken seriously by Trump.
And Trump’s attitude very different, Biden on the appointment ceremony, ceremony that he will always use science and truth as the guide for future work, and reiterated the importance of the views of experts and scholars. Biden also stated that he would promote the post of OSTP director to cabinet level, setting a historical precedent.
| Significantly enhance the status of the scientific consultant team
Since Franklin Roosevelt, almost every American president has a scientific adviser. However, in different terms of office, the influence of scientific advisers on the president’s administration varies from person to person.
For example, Obama’s scientific adviser John Holdren played a very important role during his tenure, executing a series of projects including climate change research, precision medicine, advanced computing, etc. In contrast, Bush’s scientific adviser，John Marburger’ had little influence, and Nixon even cancelled the position.
Although the president’s chief scientific adviser is free to choose, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) candidate must be appointed by the president.OSTP was founded by the U.S. Congress in 1976. It is responsible for providing advice to the President and coordinating the scientific and technological activities of various government agencies. According to regulations, one director and four deputy directors of OSTP are nominated by the president and approved by Congress.
But after Trump took office, not only did he not choose a scientific adviser, but he also never appointed an OSTP candidate. The director of OSTP at the time was temporarily appointed by Michael Kratsios. He had no scientific and technical background and was only 31 years old.
According to reports, in response to the long-term vacancy of science advisers, Bill Gates suggested at a meeting that Trump appoint a suitable person to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Trump asked Gates if he would take the job. In the face of this joking invitation, Bill Gates rejected it directly on the grounds of “delay in making money.”
Finally, after more than 560 days, Trump announced the appointment of meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on July 31, 2018. Droegemeier is considered to be a “goody-goody” who maintains neutrality and is good at giving interpretation power to those in power.
But obviously, technology consultants cannot influence Trump’s choice. Not long ago, “Nature” magazine counted the key events that caused damage to American science, such as Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, weakening of environmental protection and public health regulations, and delays in epidemic prevention and control. the damage will take decades to repair.
This time, Biden’s high-profile appointment of the White House science team is undoubtedly a continuation of Obama’s ruling style. This time Biden also announced the inclusion of the chief scientific adviser in the cabinet, which greatly enhanced the status of the scientific adviser team.
The President’s Cabinet is the executive branch of the United States federal government, and its members generally include the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and the Ministers of the Treasury and Defense Departments, and the White House Chief of Staff. This change is also the first time in the history of the United States that the president’s chief scientific adviser has enjoyed this treatment.
Biden said that the new team has gathered some of the brightest minds in the world and is committed to “how to make the impossible possible.” It was announced that the scientific team will focus on researching and conquering some key areas in the next few years, including COVID-19 virus, cancer research, climate change, clean energy, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and other advanced technologies.
| Which celebrities have been nominated?
The members of the White House Science Team nominated this time include: Eric Lander, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Presidential Science Advisor; Alondra Nelson, Deputy Director of OTP Science and Society; OSTPco-chairman’s held by Frances H. Arnold and Maria Zuber
At the same time, Francis Collins will continue to serve as the Director of the National Institutes of Health, Kei Koizumi will serve as the Secretary-General of OSTP, and Narda Jones will serve as Director of OSTP Legislative Affairs.
Judging from the people selected this time, I think that Biden’s appointment of the scientific team has two major characteristics: First, it emphasizes interdisciplinary and diversity. Most of the appointed scholars are experts in interdisciplinary fields. Women scholars account for more than half, and they include African Americans and Asians. Second, it is highly consistent with Biden’s policy priorities. Scholars’ main research areas include biology, new energy, and social diversity.
Next, let’s get to know some of the scientific leaders appointed this time.
OSTP Director and Presidential Scientific Advisor: Eric Lander
Eric Lander will serve as Biden’s scientific adviser and the first OSTP director to be included in the cabinet. Eric Lander, 63, is a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the founder of the Broad Institute, a famous biological gene research institute jointly established by MIT and Harvard.
As one of the leaders in mapping the human genome, his research results have been cited nearly 5 million times in scientific literature, and he has won many scientific awards including MacArthur “Genius” Scholarship and Life Science Breakthrough Award.
Prior to this, Lander served as the external co-chair of the President’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee during Obama’s term. This time Lander became the President’s scientific adviser and the first life scientist to hold this position.
Deputy Director of OSTP Science and Society: Alondra Nelson
Alondra Nelson is an interdisciplinary social scientist and writer, and one of the most outstanding scholars in the American social sciences. She was a professor of sociology at Columbia University, and served as the first dean of Columbia University’s Department of Social Sciences and the director of the Institute of Women and Gender. She is currently the chairman of the American Social Science Research Council, focusing on the intersection of science, technology, and social inequality. .
She established the African Futurist online community in 1998, and edited the magazine “Social Writing” of the same name in 2002. She is also one of the founders of African-American futuristic social theorists. The appointment of Alondra Nelson is also in line with Biden’s consistent proposition of emphasizing social diversity.
OSTP Co-Chair: Frances H. Arnold
Frances H. Arnold is the director of the Rosen Bioengineering Center at the California Institute of Technology, specializing in chemical engineering, bioengineering, and biochemistry.
Her research on “directed evolution of enzymes” won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018, becoming the fifth female scientist in the 118-year history of the Nobel Prize to receive the Chemistry Prize, and the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
This technology can be widely used in various biotechnology industries in the fields of science, medicine, chemical industry and energy, such as green chemistry and renewable energy. The application of this technology will make more industries no longer need to rely on non-renewable raw materials to achieve Continuous development. In addition to the energy industry, its research in the pharmaceutical industry makes this technology more efficient in diagnostic methods and drug production procedures, and plays an important role in the treatment of depression, Parkinson’s disease and other diseases.
OSTP Co-Chair: Maria Zuber
Maria Zuber is the vice president of MIT for research. She is responsible for the management of MIT Lincoln Laboratory and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research laboratories and centers. She is also responsible for MIT’s climate action plan. She has participated in more than ten NASA planetary missions and held leadership roles related to scientific experiments or instrumentation, especially as the lead researcher on gravity recovery and internal laboratory (GRAIL) missions.
Zuber was the first woman to lead the Department of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the first woman to lead NASA’s planetary mission. She is a well-known geophysicist in the United States with deep research in the field of planetary and space science.
On the whole, Biden publicly emphasized the importance of scientific advisors this time, and greatly improved the status of the team. It also indicates that the current US government may plan to integrate the professional opinions of experts in various fields into policy formulation.
And what kind of advice these big academics will make for Biden’s next administration, and whether they will exert a strong influence like in the Obama era, we will wait and see.