About Bina

Bina Venkataraman is a writer and leader whose work lies at the intersection of social progress & environmental change. Currently, she teaches in the program on science, technology, and society at MIT and serves as the Director of Global Policy Initiatives at the Broad Institute of Harvard & MIT.  She is also a fellow at New America and a former journalist for The New York Times and The Boston Globe

Bina previously served as Senior Advisor for Climate Change Innovation in the Obama White House, where she forged partnerships among communities, companies, and government to combat carbon emissions and prepare for climate disasters. She also advised the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in responding to the Ebola epidemic, promoting patient access to cancer therapies, and reforming public school science education.  Her first book, The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age, will be published by Riverhead in August 2019.

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credit: Daria Bishop

credit: Daria Bishop

Bina is an alumna of Brown University and Harvard’s Kennedy School.  She is the recipient of Fulbright, a Princeton in Asia fellowship, a Metcalf fellowship, and a James Reston fellowship. She serves on the Brown University President’s Leadership Council, the advisory council of the Institute at Brown for the Environment and Society, and the Board of Earthwatch. She was named a 2015 Global Young Leader by the French-American Foundation.

Bina has worked in India, Alaska, Cuba, Mexico, Vietnam, and Guatemala; she grew up in Ohio. Her endeavors abroad and at home have included translating Spanish and English in emergency rooms, teaching writing to Harlem high school students, working the graveyard shift at a  hotel in the Arctic wilderness, lobster fishing in Baja California Sur, and cataloguing films for a cinema critic in Havana. 


Selected Commentaries and Articles


It’s Time to Rethink the Forced Quarantine
Slate, October 2018

The Breathtaking Beauty of Our Planet's Destruction

Foreign Policy, September/October 2016

Frankenstein and the Problem with "Playing God"

Slate, January 2017

A Future We Can Imagine

Slate, September 2017

Should We Engineer Future Humans?

New America Weekly, December 2015

What Experiments to Block out the Sun Can’t Tell Us

Slate, January 2016


The Race to Preserve Disappearing Digital Artifacts
The Boston Globe, May 2015


Finding Order in the Apparent Chaos of Currents

The New York Times, September 2009


The US and Cuba: Reflections on Waiting

The Boston Globe, December 2014


An Emerging Threat to State Innovation

The Boston Globe, April 2015


Why We Were Not Better Prepared for an Ebola Outbreak

The Boston Globe, November 2014


The New York Times’ Book of Mathematics

(Contributor). Published 2013


The Queen of the Rubik’s Cube

The New York Times, December 2008


Microbes Eat Away at Pieces of History

The New York Times, June 2008

The Other Global Warming: A Cosmic View of the Planet’s Energy Crisis

The Boston Globe, January 2009


Where War Once Raged, Nature Now Prevails: A Sampan Tour on the Mekong River

The Boston Globe, December 2006


$1 Million to Inventor of a Tracker for ALS

The New York Times, February 2011


Block Island Embraces Offshore Wind Farm

The Boston Globe, October 2008


The Politics of Puppetry

The Christian Science Monitor, July 2007


Countries Make Push to Increase Eye Donors

The New York Times, July 2008


DNA from Ancient Coral Unlocks Climate Clues

The Boston Globe, December 2008


Contests Increasingly a Top Draw for Innovators

The Boston Globe, November 2009


Country, the City Version: Farms in the Sky Gain New Interest

The New York Times, July 2008


Why Can’t a Woman Man the Grill?

The Christian Science Monitor, June 2007


Sushi and Global Trade: A Review of The Sushi Economy

The Christian Science Monitor, June 2007


A Path Toward a STEM Teacher Corps

For the President of the United States, April 2013


Prepare and Inspire: A Report to President Obama on K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education

On behalf of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology, 2010


Selected Appearances


The Uninhabitable Earth
New America conversation with author David Wallace-Wells, February 2019

Data for Black Lives at MIT Media Lab
The Seas Are Rising and So Are the People, January 2019

University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Watershed: Climate, Art, & Social Justice, September 2018

Center for American Progress
Silencing Climate Science, June 2018

Aspen Ideas Festival
Climate Solutions after Paris, June 2017

New York University Institute of Fine Arts
Rejuvenate and Repeat, April 2017

Cambridge Science Festival
Tipping the Scales on Climate ChangeApril 2017

Arizona State University
From Abstraction to Action on Climate Change, October 2016

Acadia Science Symposium
From the Ground Up and Satellite Down: Science in Service of Action
on Climate Change, Bar Harbor, Maine, October 2016

Communicating Science for PolicyMicrosoft, June 2016

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab
Challenging Equations: Reflections on Shaping Policy with Science in the Obama Administration, MIT, May 2016

Atmospheres Conference
Windspeed: Aligning Political and Planetary Time HorizonsBrown University, April 2016

Knight Fellows Seminar
Shaping Policy with Science in the Obama Administration. MIT, March 2016

Future Tense Event: Can We Engineer Away Zika Virus?
New America, DC, February 2016 

Aspen Ideas Festival, June 2015
Enough to Go Around: The Ethics of Agriculture
Advice From Women Who Lead  
Hot Air: Whither the Fight Against Climate Change?  

Fermilab Colloquium
Keynote: A Challenging Equation: Shaping Policy with Science. July 2015.

WBUR Radio Boston Interview
Preserving Disappearing Data in the Digital Age. May 2015.

Muddy River Symposium Keynote
From the Ground Up & Satellite Down: How we Can Tackle the Climate Crisis. April 2015

Cambridge Science FestivalAssociation for Women in Science Keynote
Shaping Policy with Science: A Call to Action. April 2015

Food Almanac, hosted by SlowFood NYC
Climate Change, Agriculture, & Resilience, February 2015

Earthwatch Institute Annual Gala Keynote
The Changing Planet: Getting from Science to Action, November 2014

Stanford University Roundtable with Lesley Stahl
The Climate Conversation You Haven’t Heard. October 2014

VERGE Conference - San Francisco
Addressing Climate Change Through Data Innovation. October 2014
(time stamp: 3hr 35min)

Aspen Ideas Festival 2014
Crunching the Climate Numbers. June 2014

VERGE NYC Keynote  
Driving Climate Action through Innovation. September 2014
(time stamp: 1 hr 37 min)

Brown University 250th Fall Forum
Land, Sea & Sky: How Science, Policy & Politics Influence Planet Earth. September 2014

MIT Climate and Crowds Conference
Big Data and Climate Change. November 2013

American Academy for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting
Communicating Science to Policymakers, February 2013