White House Recruits Engineering Professor

February 12, 2024
White House side by side with a portrait of Andrés Clarens

Andrés Clarens, whose research focuses on understanding decarbonization of infrastructure systems, will be an assistant director of the White House’s Office of Science Technology Policy . (Photo by Tom Cogill)

Andrés Clarens, a University of Virginia professor of civil and environmental engineering and associate director of UVA’s Environmental Institute, has been named an assistant director of the White House’s Office of Science Technology Policy.

Clarens’ research focuses broadly on understanding decarbonization pathways for infrastructure systems, including industrial sectors such as cement, chemicals and mining. He works on developing efficient strategies for mitigating the emissions that are driving climate change. Biden administration officials contacted Clarens in November about the one-year appointment, which starts Monday. Clarens plans to return to full-time teaching at UVA after his appointment ends.

“My specific role will be to focus on industrial innovation policy in the United States,” Clarens said. “We are in the midst of a major energy transition in our country and that is going to require public and private alignment to transition our energy and materials infrastructure away from fossil fuels and toward renewables.”

Final Exercises 2024, Learn More
Final Exercises 2024, Learn More

Clarens will report to Arati Prabhakar, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and assistant to the president for science and technology.

“The Biden administration and Congress have passed a series of three major bills dealing with computer chips, infrastructure and inflation reduction that have huge implications for American industry, and my job in the White House will be to support implementation of these activities,” Clarens said.

Clarens said it will be exciting working at the White House on initiatives that will have a major impact on America’s future. 

“Technological transitions happen slowly at first and then snowball quickly – think electric cars, renewable energy, or, in the past, fracking or nuclear power – and we have a great opportunity in the U.S. to prioritize innovation and emerging technologies for a prosperous future,” Clarens said. “We don’t want to get left behind by other countries that are investing in this space.”

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Matt Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications