Arati Prabhakar is an Indian American engineer and a US government official. She came into the limelight on 3 October 2022 when she was designated as the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the chief science advisor to Joe Biden, President of America. She served as the head of the DARPA, the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, from 2012 to 2017. She is the founder of Actuate, a non-profit venture. She is considered the first woman to head the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) from 1993 to 1997.
Arati Prabhakar was born on Monday, 2 February 1959 (age 63 years; as of 2022) in New Delhi, India. Her zodiac sign is Aquarius. Soon after completing her school education, she joined Texas Tech University in the US in 1976 and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Electric Engineering in 1979. From 1979 to 1984, she pursued a Master of Science degree in Electric Engineering from California Institute of Technology, US. When Arati was three years old, her mother shifted to the United States from Delhi, India. Thereafter, her mother earned a master’s degree in social services administration at the University of Chicago. At the age of ten, Arati moved to Lubbock, Texas along with her family. In a media talk, Arati once recalled her childhood incident in which she said that Arati’s mother used to motivate her to pursue a PhD degree in future. According to Arati Prabhakar, she was the first woman who received a PhD degree in applied physics from Caltech in 1984.
Height (approx.): 5′ 7″
Weight (approx.): 65 kg
Hair Colour: Grey
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Her father’s name is Jagdish Chandra Prabhakar. Her father was a former employee at Texas Instruments and was a PhD degree holder from SMU, Southern Methodist University, in Dallas. Later, her father was designated as a faculty member at Texas Tech in Lubbock. Her mother’s name is Raj (Madan) Prabhakar. Arati told a media house in 2020 that her mother worked as a social worker. She added in the same conversation that her mother divorced her father when her mother was in her early thirties. She said,
My parents were married in India in 1950 just as the country was forming and standing up as an independent nation. They had an arranged marriage, and it was an unhappy marriage. They later divorced, something that was inconceivable for an arranged marriage in 1950 from India, but that would happen many, many years later. I have a particularly unusual mother.”
Husband & Children
She has two children.
In 1984, Arati Prabhakar joined Office of Technology Assessment, Washington, District Of Columbia and began working as a Congressional Fellow and Analyst and served the position till 1986. In 1986, she joined Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Arlington, Virginia and began working as a Program Manager at its DSO department and Director at ita MTO department. In 1993, she started working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland as the Director and served the position till 1997. In 1997, Arati Prabhakar joined Raychem, Menlo Park, California and began working as its as the Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President and worked there till 1998. Form 1998 to 2000, she served as the vice president and then president of Interval Research, Palo Alto, California.
In 2001, Arati Prabhakar began working at U.S. Venture Partners in Menlo Park, California as its Partner and worked till 2011. She looked after investment programs in green technology and information technology startups in the US during her tenure at Venture Partners. In July 2012, Arati Prabhakar joined the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Virginia as its Director and worked in the role till January 2017. From September 2017 to June 2018, she was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford, CA. On 1 October 2022, Arati Prabhakar joined the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as its Director. She was also given the charge of President Joe Biden’s science adviser. Reportedly, she became the is the first woman, first immigrant, and first person of colour to be appointed as the director of OSTP.
In 2012, Arati Prabhakar became a member of the board of directors of SRI International, a member of the U.S. National Academies’ Science Technology and Economic Policy Board, and the College of Engineering Advisory Board at the University of California, Berkeley.
A non-profit organisation named Actuate Innovation was founded by Arati Prabhakar in 2018 where she works as a CEO. This venture focuses on forming innovative technologies that could help the society to face its challenges.
Arati Prabhakar is the recipient of the title ‘Texas Tech Distinguished Engineer and a Distinguished Alumna of California Institute of Technology.”
- Apart from being a US government official, Arati Prabhakar is also a motivational speaker who often speaks about the new innovations of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at the renowned online public speaking platform TED talk since November 2015.
- Arati Prabhakar is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the National Academy of Engineering in America, the governing board for the Pew Research Center, the U.S. National Academies of Science Technology, and the Economic Policy Board.
- Arati Prabhakar was the fellow for the research work “leadership in partnering between industry and government to promote economic growth through the development of manufacturing technologies for semiconductor devices” in 1997. Later, she received a fellowship from the Bell Laboratories Graduate Research Program for Women.
- The computing cards in the US once featured Arati Prabhakar as the Notable Woman.
- Arati Prabhakar’s contribution to the DARPA was once appreciated by Craig Fields, a former director of Darpa, in a media talk. Craig Fields said that Arati had an unusual combination of technical knowledge, entrepreneurial flair, and individual responsibility. He added,
Ms Prabhakar has the unusual combination of technical knowledge, entrepreneurial flair and the ability to get things done within government in an agency that emphasized individual responsibility. She had the ability to work with her military customers and understand the needs of the companies involved. She was able to think about long-term goals at the same time, which is a pretty rare set of skills.”
- In June 2022, in an interview with a media house, Arati Prabhakar revealed that the President of America, Joe Biden, invited her to be a part of his cancer moonshot initiative in the future.