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Mathematics professor to represent UCLA in President’s Council of Advisors

UCLA professor of mathematics Terence Tao was selected as a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on Wednesday. (Courtesy of Reed Hutchinson/UCLA)

By Victoria Li

Sept. 22, 2021 6:07 p.m.

This post was updated Sept. 24 at 11:03 p.m.

UCLA professor Terence Tao will join the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, according to a Wednesday White House press release.

A professor of mathematics dubbed the “Mozart of Math” by fellow mathematicians, Tao will join 29 other leaders in science and technology on the council in advising President Joe Biden and the White House in policy surrounding science, technology and innovation.

“Certainly this is a great honor and also a great responsibility – it is not so often in my field that we have the opportunity to provide input on broader STEM policy issues that extend beyond the academic community,” Tao said in an emailed statement.

Originally from Australia, Tao joined UCLA in 1996 at the age of 20 as a professor after obtaining his doctorate from Princeton University.

Tao’s research spans a number of fields, including prime numbers, differential equations and harmonic analysis – a sophisticated form of calculus involving physics equations. In 2006, his work earned him a Fields Medal, which is given to mathematicians under the age of 40 and is one of the highest honors in the field of mathematics.

“It’s going to be a substantial amount of work, and there will be a lot for me to learn regarding the technical and policy of all the issues we’ll be discussing, but I am looking forward to the challenge,” Tao said.

Other members of the council include experts on astrophysics, agriculture, ecology, immunology, cybersecurity and social science, as well as two Nobel laureates and two former Cabinet members.

According to the press release, Biden’s council is the most diverse in history, with more than half of the members being women and one-third of members being people of color or immigrants. 

Dr. Eric Lander, PCAST co-chair and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in the press release that diversity was important to ensure scientific progress by allowing experts to contribute their unique experiences and perspectives.

“The future of America depends on science and technology like never before,” said Lander. “This PCAST is uniquely prepared because of its extraordinary scientific breadth, wide range of work experiences, and unprecedented diversity.”

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Victoria Li | Science and Health editor
Li is the 2021-2022 science and health editor. She was previously a contributor for the science and health beat. She is also a third-year human biology and society student at UCLA who enjoys writing about research and public health.
Li is the 2021-2022 science and health editor. She was previously a contributor for the science and health beat. She is also a third-year human biology and society student at UCLA who enjoys writing about research and public health.
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