As preparations for Wednesday’s inauguration ramp up, President-elect Joe Biden introduced his slate of scientific advisors. He promises that his picks will summon “science and truth” to create policies that combat the coronavirus pandemic and other challenges. And in a White House first, Mr. Biden has made the presidential science advisor a Cabinet-level position.
Mr. Biden chose geneticist Eric Lander as his new science advisor and the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Lander will serve as an official member of the presidential Cabinet. Other offices represented in the Cabinet include Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Defense, Energy, Education, and more.
Some people have long believed the OSTP director should be part of the Cabinet. “I think it marks a very important moment in the history of science in the government,” says Harold Varmus, former head of the National Institutes of Health.
“This is the most exciting announcement I’ve gotten to make,” Mr. Biden said after weeks of nominations and appointments. “This is a team that is going to help restore your faith in America’s place in the frontier of science and discovery.”
Mr. Biden emphasized how scientific research can lead to practical progress and better quality of life. His examples ranged from COVID-19 vaccines to clean energy expansion.
“Science is discovery. It’s not fiction,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s also about hope.”
The President-elect said one of his team’s tasks will be to gird public faith in science and its usefulness. Of course, “arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5) are neither truthful, hopeful, or useful. Science serves the Creator—not the other way around! It should be used in keeping with biblical truth.
Mr. Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris both sought to hold up scientists as examples to children across the country.
“Superheroes aren’t just about our imagination,” Harris says. “They are walking among us. They are teachers and doctors and scientists, they are vaccine researchers . . . and you can grow up to be like them too.”
The President-elect has named two prominent female scientists to co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Frances Arnold, a California Institute of Technology chemical engineer who won the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry, and MIT vice president for research and geophysics professor Maria Zuber will lead the science advisory council.
Mr. Biden picked Princeton’s Alondra Nelson, a social scientist who studies science, technology, and social inequality, as deputy science policy chief.
The President-elect noted the team’s diversity and promised that his administration’s science policy and investments would target historically disadvantaged and underserved communities.
Nelson celebrated that commitment, saying, “I believe we have a responsibility to work together to make sure that our science and technology reflects us . . . who we truly are together.”
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. — Romans 15:13 NASB
(President-elect Joe Biden, right, listens as Eric Lander speaks during an event at The Queen theater, Saturday, January 16, 2021, in Wilmington, Delaware. AP/Matt Slocum)