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White House taps two MIT leaders

Eric Lander was named to a Cabinet-level post and Maria Zuber will cochair a presidential advisory council.

February 23, 2021

On January 15, President-elect Joseph Biden named Broad Institute director Eric Lander and MIT’s vice president for research, Maria Zuber, to top science and technology posts in his administration.

Biden appointed Lander presidential science advisor, a position he elevated to the Cabinet level. He also nominated him to serve as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Lander, an MIT biology professor, will take a leave of absence from MIT and the Broad.

Eric Lander
Broad Institute director Eric Lander
DAVID FOX
Maria Zuber
Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research
BRYCE VICKMARK

Zuber, a professor of geophysics, was named cochair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) with Caltech chemical engineer and Nobel laureate Frances Arnold. They will be the first women to cochair PCAST.

“From covid-19 to climate change, the nation faces urgent challenges whose solutions depend on a broad and deep understanding of the frontiers of science and technology. It is enormously meaningful that science is being raised to a Cabinet-level position for the first time,” says President L. Rafael Reif. “With his piercing intelligence and remarkable record as a scientific pioneer, Eric Lander is a superb choice for this new role. And given her leadership of immensely complex NASA missions and her deep engagement with the leading edge of dozens of scientific domains as MIT’s vice president for research, it is difficult to imagine someone more qualified to cochair PCAST than Maria Zuber. This is a banner day for science, and for the nation.”