Quantum expert Birgitta Whaley appointed to White House science advisory council

October 22, 2019

K. Birgitta Whaley

Quantum expert Birgitta Whaley. (photo by Michael Barnes)

K. Birgitta Whaley, a UC Berkeley professor of chemistry and co-director of the Berkeley Quantum Information and Computation Center, has been appointed to the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), the White House announced today (Tuesday, Oct. 22).

Whaley, who is also a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was among seven new advisers, the first PCAST members appointed by President Donald Trump since his inauguration three years ago. Upon signing an executive order this morning launching PCAST, President Trump indicated that he would appoint another nine advisers, for a total of 16.

“I am honored to serve on the PCAST advisory council,” Whaley said.

The council was created in 1990 to advise the president on “policy that affects science, technology, and innovation, as well as science and technology information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, energy, environment, public health, national and homeland security, and other topics.” Among other areas, the council will provide policy recommendations on strengthening American leadership in science and technology, building the workforce of the future and supporting foundational research and development across the country.

PCAST is co-led by the president’s science adviser, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), a position that had remained unfilled for two years until Kelvin Droegemeier was appointed in January 2019.

“Under this administration, science and technology in America continues to advance by leaps and bounds. PCAST will be critical to our continued efforts, with each member bringing a unique expert perspective to the table. By convening a diverse group of our nation’s foremost leaders across a broad range of fields, we can leverage the full innovation ecosystem, solve some of the nation’s greatest challenges and ensure America’s science and technology leadership for generations to come,” Droegemeier said.

Whaley is a foremost expert in the fields of quantum information, quantum physics, molecular quantum mechanics and quantum biology. She has authored more than 230 scientific publications and is a recipient of awards from the Bergmann, Sloan and Alexander von Humboldt foundations. Whaley is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science, and has served as chair of the Division of Quantum Information in the American Physical Society. She earned a B.A. in chemistry from Oxford University and a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Chicago.

The other new advisers are Catherine Bessant of North Carolina, chief operations and technology officer of Bank of America; Dario Gil of New York, director of IBM Research; Sharon Hrynkow of Virginia, senior vice president for medical affairs for Cyclo Therapeutics; H. Fisk Johnson of Wisconsin, CEO and chairman of the board of S. C. Johnson & Son Inc.; Attiganal Sreeram of Michigan, chief technology officer and senior vice president of Dow Inc.; and Shane Wall of Oregon, chief technology officer for HP and director of HP Labs.

See article on UC Berkeley website: