Dr. Arati Prabhakar serves as Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. In this capacity, Prabhakar is the President’s Chief Advisor for Science and Technology, a co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), and a member of the President’s Cabinet.
An engineer and applied physicist with broad management and leadership experience, Prabhakar has led two different federal R&D agencies and worked with startups, large companies, universities, government labs, and nonprofits across a wide variety of sectors to create new solutions for critical challenges. She served as director of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, from 2012 to 2017. In 1993, she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), becoming the first woman to lead the agency. Between these federal leadership roles, Prabhakar spent 15 years in Silicon Valley as a company executive and as a venture capitalist. In 2019, she founded Actuate, a nonprofit organization to develop new approaches to innovation for society’s essential challenges.
Prabhakar’s family immigrated from India to the United States when she was three years old, moving first to Chicago and then Lubbock, Texas, where she went on to earn an electrical engineering degree from Texas Tech University. She also earned an M.S. in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology. She started her career in the legislative branch as a Congressional Fellow at the Office of Technology Assessment.
She is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.