Biden Announces Nominations for Department of Education, OSTP as Term Begins

January 2021

Prior to the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on January 20, the Biden transition team announced the nominations of Cabinet members and key advisors to join the administration.

On December 22, Biden announced the nomination of Miguel Cardona to serve as Secretary of the Department of Education. Cardona is the Connecticut Commissioner of Education, and previously served as assistant superintendent for the Meriden (CT) Public Schools, an elementary school principal, and fourth grade teacher. Cardona received a doctorate degree in education from the University of Connecticut, where he is also an adjunct professor in education leadership.

“We are excited to see the nomination of Dr. Cardona as education secretary, especially with his background in education research, in addition to his extensive leadership as a principal and superintendent, as well as at the state level,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “We look forward to working with Dr. Cardona to advance the role of research and statistics in education policy and practice.”

On January 19, Biden announced the nomination of Cindy Marten to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Education. Marten is superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, and, like Cardona, is a former teacher and principal.

Both of these nominations require Senate confirmation. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold hearings prior to a full Senate vote.

On January 15, Biden announced the appointment of leaders of his science team, naming Eric Lander as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and as science advisor to the president, effectively elevating OSTP to the Cabinet.  Lander is the president and founder of the Broad Institute, based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. He was a leader on the Human Genome Project and also served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) during the Obama administration.

Biden also nominated Alondra Nelson, president of the Social Science Research Council and Harold F. Linder Chair in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, to serve in the newly created position of OSTP Deputy Director of Science and Society. Nelson is an expert on the intersection of race, inequality, science, and technology.

“We applaud the nomination of such distinguished scientists as Dr. Lander and Dr. Nelson to lead OSTP, as well as President Biden’s recognition of OSTP as a Cabinet-level agency to elevate the importance of science in decision-making,” said Levine. “We look forward to working with them both as the U.S. continues to respond – and hopefully soon recover – from the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in addressing the inequalities that have been exacerbated during the past year.”

In rounding out key scientific appointments, Biden announced the nomination of Francis Arnold and Maria Zuber to serve as co-chairs of President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Arnold is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry and Director of the Rosen Bioengineering Center at the California Institute of Technology. Zuber is vice president for research and E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Zuber is also a member of the National Science Board and served as chair in 2016-18.

These nominations will be considered by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee prior to a full Senate vote.