US space agency NASA has named Indian-American Bhavya Lal as the acting chief of staff. “NASA has named appointees for senior positions. Bhavya Lal joins as acting chief of staff, Philip Thomson will serve as White House liaison,” the US agency said in a statement. The new appointee, Lal has served as a member of Biden Presidential Transition Agency Review Team for NASA and oversaw its transition under the administration of President Joe Biden.
According to NASA, Lal brings “extensive experience” in engineering and space technology, serving as a member of the research staff at the Institute for Defence Analyses Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) from 2005 to 2020. There, she led the analysis of space technology, strategy, and policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and National Space Council, as well as federal space-oriented organisations, including NASA, the Department of Defence, and the intelligence community, the US space agency said in a statement on Monday.
She co-founded and is co-chair of the policy track of the American Nuclear Society’s annual conference on Nuclear and Emerging Technologies in Space (NETS) and co-organises a seminar series on space history and policy with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. For her many contributions to the space sector, she was nominated and selected to be a Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics, the statement said.
Lal earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in nuclear engineering, as well as a Master of Science degree in technology and policy, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and holds a doctorate in public policy and public administration from George Washington University. She is a member of both nuclear engineering and public policy honour societies.