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Bullet policy · Sep 27, 2021

White House Expands Presidential Science Advisory Panel

President Biden issued an Executive Order on September 13 to expand the maximum size of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) from 26 to 32 members. Last week, he announced the names of 30 panel members who would constitute the “most diverse PCAST in U.S. History.”

PCAST is a panel of external advisors charged with making science, technology, and innovation policy recommendations to the President and the White House. Among the newly appointed members of Biden’s PCAST are 20 elected members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, five MacArthur “Genius” Fellows, two former Cabinet secretaries, and two Nobel laureates. The panel includes experts in agriculture, biochemistry, ecology, entrepreneurship, immunology, neuroscience, national security, astrophysics, social science, computer engineering, and cybersecurity.

PCAST is traditionally co-chaired by the President’s science advisor and one or two external co-chairs. President Biden announced prior to his inauguration that his PCAST will be co-chaired by Dr. Frances H. Arnold, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, and Dr. Maria Zuber, a geophysicist. Biden’s science adviser Dr. Eric Lander also co-chaired the PCAST under President Obama.

“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,” said PCAST Co-Chair and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Dr. Lander. “This PCAST is uniquely prepared because of its extraordinary scientific breadth, wide range of work experiences, and unprecedented diversity.”

Newly appointed PCAST members include Dr. Steve Pacala, an ecologist and environmental biologist; Dr. Vicki Sato, a biologist, immunologist, and biotechnology executive; Dr. Catherine Woteki, an agriculture and food scientist; Dr. William Press, a computer scientist, computational biologist, and astrophysicist; Dr. Frances Colón, a neuroscientist and science diplomat; and Dr. Lisa Cooper, an internal medicine physician, social epidemiologist, and health services researcher. See the full roster.

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