The group includes high-profile academics and industry representatives, including from Google and Microsoft.
Highlighting a historic level of diversity, White House officials released the names of 30 individuals from industry and academia who will advise the president on science and technology issues.
“The members represent the most diverse [Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology] in U.S. history,” according to a White House announcement Wednesday. “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.”
Biden’s PCAST is also much larger than the previous iteration of the council under President Trump, who revived the body after its dissolution following the Obama and Bush administrations. A Sept. 13 executive order renewing the council says it shall be composed of no more than 32 members; Trump’s PCAST allowed room for 16.
The new council “include[s] 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 White House release said.
The council will be co-chaired by Director of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Eric Lander, and—for the first time—two women. One, Frances Arnold, is a biochemical engineer who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry and started companies working on agriculture and sustainable fuels. The other, Maria Zuber, is a trailblazer for women in geophysics and planetary science with experience leading experiments on missions at NASA.
Among the other 27 members of the group are former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Google Cloud Chief Information Security Officer Phil Venables, and Microsoft Chief Scientific Officer Eric Horvitz.
According to a video the White House released Tuesday on the reformation of the PCAST, the president has tasked the council with answering five key questions:
- What can we learn from the pandemic to address our public health needs?
- How can we create bold new solutions to address climate change?
- How can we lead the world in new technologies?
- How do we guarantee innovation to benefit all Americans?
- How can we strengthen the American research and innovation enterprise?