President-elect Joe Biden took action over the weekend that clearly demonstrated his commitment to science and the facts, something Donald Trump had previously made fun of.
“We will lead with science and truth“Biden said Saturday in a speech introducing his new Delaware appointees.” We believe in both. “He added;” These are among the the brightest and most dedicated people not only in the country but in the world. “
Biden told Delaware his science team will focus on five key areas: Coronavirus pandemic, the economy, the climate crisis, technological progress of industry and the long-term health of science and technology in the country.
Who are the seven senior members of Biden’s science team?
Joe Biden elected some of the country’s most senior and distinguished scientists, researchers and policy makers to form his science department.
Eric Lander, if confirmed by the Senate, lead the Office for Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and in addition will serve as scientific advisor to Biden.
Distinguished mathematician and biologist, Lander is professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard Medical School. He is the founding director of a genome research center in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Co-chaired President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on science and technology.
Humble and delighted to serve as a World Heritage Scientific Advisor to the President-elect @Joe Biden. It has assembled a diverse team of brilliant scientists and elevates the role of science. There is so much to do, and everyone will have to work together. #Scienceisback!
– Eric Lander (@eric_lander) January 15, 2021
To Lander’s right will be Alondra Nelson, Deputy Director for Science and Society. Nelson is chairman of the Social Science Research Council and a professor at Princeton. Nelson is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and National Academy of Medicine.
Maria Zuber and Frances H. Arnold
Maria Zuber and Frances H. Arnold will be co-chairs of the Biden Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Frances H. Arnold
Frances Arnold is currently Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, and in 2018 she became the fifth woman in history and first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Maria Zuber is a professor of geophysics and oversees the Lincoln Lab at MIT and more than a dozen interdisciplinary laboratories and research centers, and heads the university’s climate action plan. Zuber has held leadership positions in ten NASA missions. She is the first woman to head a science department at MIT and the first to lead a NASA planetary mission.
Kei Koizumi will be the OSTP Chief of Staff and Narda Jones will be the OSTP Director of Legislative Affairs.
Kei Koizumi was a senior advisor to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Under President Obama, he served as Deputy Director of Federal Research and Development and Senior Advisor to the National Science and Technology Council of OSTP.
Narda Jones most recently served as Senior Technology Policy Advisor to the Democratic staff of the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. She has also held several executive positions with the Federal Communications Commission.
Dr Francis S. Collins
Finally, Dr Francis S. Collins will continue as director of the national institutes of health. He was named the 16th Director of the NIH by President Barack Obama in 2009 and President Trump chose to continue in this role in 2017.
Dr Collins is best known for his discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the International Human Genome Project, which has reached a mapping of all genes in the human genome. He was director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH from 1993 to 2008.
What does “cabinet-raised” mean?
Eric Lander’s role as director of OSTP is a position that will be promoted to cabinet status. This has never happened before; usually the role is in the executive office of the president. The President’s EO communicates the President’s message and takes care of the federal budget, security, and other high priorities. Other offices within the President’s OE include the offices of the National Security Council, drug control policy and economic advisers.
In contrast, cabinet members – what will happen to Lander if his appointment is confirmed – serve as advisers to the president. They include the vice president, chief of staff, heads of executive departments and other senior government officials such as Secretary of State and Director of National Intelligence. Cabinet members are appointed by the president and must be approved by a simple majority of the Senate.
In his unveiling event, Biden explained, “For the first time in history, I will be raising the Presidential Science Advisor to a Cabinet rank, because we think it’s so important.”
Biden’s landmark move couldn’t contrast more with Donald Trump’s scientific approach; the post Lander will occupy has been vacant for almost two years under Trump.
It seems clear that the intention of the president-elect is to send a strong message to the American people – that science, often ignored or even ridiculed during the Trump administration, has a crucial place in the Biden-Harris administration and will exert some influence on its policies.