President Biden announced the members of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), which is tasked with making science, technology, and innovation policy recommendations to the President and the White House.

Per President Biden’s executive order establishing PCAST, the council includes advisors from outside the federal government who are responsible for advising the President “on matters involving policy affecting science, technology, and innovation, as well as on matters involving scientific and technological information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, the environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics.”

“The future of America depends on science and technology like never before,” PCAST Co-Chair and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Dr. Eric Lander said. “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.”

“Scientific progress depends on people seeing things in new ways because they bring different lenses, different experiences, different passions, different questions,” Lander said. “This PCAST is uniquely prepared because of its extraordinary scientific breadth, a wide range of work experiences, and unprecedented diversity.”

PCAST, which the White House says is a direct descendant of the scientific advisory committee established by President Eisenhower in 1957 in the weeks after the launch of Sputnik, includes 30 members with backgrounds in astrophysics, agriculture, biochemistry, computer engineering, ecology, entrepreneurship, immunology, nanotechnology, neuroscience, national security, social science, and cybersecurity, among other fields. Included in the council 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.

“We are thrilled that some of our most accomplished Americans are willing to step up and serve the nation by being members of PCAST,” PCAST Co-Chair Dr. Frances Arnold said. “Their vast expertise will help the nation build back better through science and technology.”

The White House noted that President Biden’s PCAST is the most diverse in U.S. history. This council is the first council to have a woman serve as a co-chair, with two women co-chairs. The White House also noted that for the first time, women make up half of PCAST, and people of color and immigrants make up more than one-third of PCAST.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.