Biden to Elevate Top Science Adviser 


The Biden-Harris administration announced a slew of new science- and cybersecurity-related appointments over the weekend.

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Dr. Eric Lander, an Obama alumnus, geneticist and leader of the Human Genome Project, to be the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Biden also will elevate the role Lander will fill to Cabinet rank in an effort to increase the role of science in the Biden-Harris administration.

“I have always said that the Biden-Harris administration will also lead with science and truth,” Biden said in a statement

Lander was one of several key White House science appointments Biden announced over the weekend in the lead-up to his inauguration Wednesday.

Dr. Alondra Nelson, who heads the nonprofit Social Science Research Council, will serve as OSTP deputy director for science and society. Science budget expert Kei Koizumi will serve as OSTP chief of staff, while Narda Jones, who formerly served as the senior technology policy adviser for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, will serve as OSTP’s legislative affairs director.

In addition, Biden announced that Frances Arnold and Maria Zuber will serve as the external co-chairs of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Arnold was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018, and is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology. Zuber was the first woman to lead a science department at MIT and the first to lead a NASA planetary mission.

Biden also announced that National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins will remain in his current role, which he has served in since his appointment in 2009 by former President Barack Obama.

The Biden-Harris administration also made several key cybersecurity personnel decisions in recent days. Biden tapped Michael Sulmeyer as the National Security Council’s senior director for cybersecurity on Monday. Sulmeyer served in various roles in the Trump and Obama administrations, between which he was director of the Belfer Center’s Cyber Security Project at Harvard Kennedy School.

At the Defense Department, Mieke Eoyang is slated to become the deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy, according to Nextgov’s sister publication, Defense One. Eoyang, the senior vice president for Third Way’s National Security Program, was one of dozens of appointments referenced in Pentagon planning documents.  

Last week, Biden announced Anne Neuberger will be deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, leaving a vacancy for director of the National Security Agency’s cybersecurity directorate. NSA announced Rob Joyce will replace Neuberger. Joyce currently serves as a special liaison officer for the NSA and held several previous cybersecurity positions, including serving as cybersecurity coordinator in the National Security Council in 2018.