Dr. Prabhakar was appointed the tenth Director of NIST by President William Clinton and took office May 28, 1993. Previously, she served for seven years at the Defence Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), of which two years were as the Director of the Microelectronics Technology Office.
As Director of NIST, Dr. Prabhakar manages the primary technology research agency of the Department of Commerce and the only federal laboratory explicitly charged with supporting U.S. industry. With a staff of approximately 3,000, NIST pursues research, measurement, and standardization programs in physics, chemistry, materials, manufacturing engineering, electronics and electrical engineering, building and fire technology, computing and applied mathematics, and computer systems. NIST's mission also includes programs to assist industry in technology development and commercialization including the Advanced Technology Program, which supports industrial research in precompetitive generic technologies; the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which aids the transfer of modern design and production techniques to small and mid-sized manufactoring firms; and the Quality Program, which supports the nationally recognized Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
Dr. Prabhakar spent seven years at the Advanced Research Projects Agency managing research in advanced electronics. Her most recent activity was the creation of the Microelectronics Technology Office with the mission to drive research, development, and demonstration of advanced microelectronics technologies critical for national security, with an emphasis on dual-use technologies. She had strategic responsibility for programs in semiconductor manufacturing technology, including SEMATECH and advanced lithography. The overall manufacturing programs were designed to stimulate and challenge the U.S. semiconductor industry to achieve cost-effective flexible manufacturing capability for high-value-added, differentiated products. Other areas of technology for which she was responsible included next-generation devices in optoelectronics, nanoelectronics, and neural networks as well as flexible manufacturing and multispectral arrays for infrared focal plane arrays. While at ARPA, she worked in close partnership with industry, academia, and other national research laboratories. She managed one of the largest ARPA offices with an annual budget of $300 million and contracts with many companies, including large electronics manufacturers, traditional defense contractors, small and mid-sized technology firms, universities, and other laboratories.
Dr. Prabhakar served as a Congressional Fellow in the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress from 1984 to 1986. At OTA, she conducted a study for the House Science, Research and Technology Subcommittee on Microelectronics Research and Development and participated in a study on intellectual property issues entitled Intellectual Property in an Age of Electronics and Information. While at the California Institute of Technology's Department of Applied Physics, she served as a Research Rellow from 1979 to 1984 and as a Teaching Assistant from 1982 to 1984.
Dr. Prabhakar is a member of Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Physical Society. She received a Congressional Office of Technology Assessment Science Fellowship as well as a fellowship from the Bell Laboratories Graduate Research Program for Women.
Dr. Prabhakar was born in New Delhi, India. She received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas Tech University (1979), and her M.S. in Electrical Engineering (1980), and her Ph.D. in Applied Physics (1984) from the California Institute of Technology.