Technologists as policy advisors: A conversation with Dr. Arati Prabhakar

Natalie D. Gehred* and Luke Petersen*

Edited by Laura Shupp

Interview | Aug. 31 2023

*Emails: ngehred@g.ucla.edu and lukep@mit.edu

DOI: 10.38105/spr.zvofsm6s3h

Banner image made by Manraj Gill

Article Summary

MIT Science Policy Review spoke with Dr. Arati Prabhakar about the role scientists and engineers play in public policy. Dr. Prabhakar is the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), where she works to harness “the power of science, technology, and innovation to achieve America’s greatest aspirations” [1]. In her current role, Dr. Prabhakar is the President’s Chief Advisor for Science and Technology, a member of the President’s Cabinet, and co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Previously, Dr. Prabhakar served as the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Between Directorships, Dr. Prabhakar worked to advance innovation in the private sector as an industry executive and venture capitalist, focusing on early-stage semiconductors and cleantech. In 2019, Dr. Prabhakar co-founded Actuate, a nonprofit research and development organization tackling issues in climate change, data security, and health outcomes. We spoke with Dr. Prabhakar about her career journey to OSTP and how the White House guides U.S. scientific and technological priorities.

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Natalie D. Gehred

Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA

Luke Petersen

Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA