By Rich Cooper and David Olive

After a long, protracted confirmation process, Dr. Tara O’Toole was confirmed by voice vote in the U.S. Senate last night to be the new DHS Under Secretary for Science & Technology.

Since her nomination was announced by the White House this past Spring, Dr. O’Toole has been the recipient of a lot of heat and criticism for her research work in the biosecurity areas, as well as her links to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. With all of that now behind her, she begins the task of leading the Research & Development agenda at the only DHS cross-functional component.

She’s got a lot on her plate, such as helping to settle the issue of whether the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) will go to Manhattan, KS (at Kansas State University) as was decided in January of this year (and is now under review). She is also tasked with ensuring greater return on the investment dollars that have already been spent by DHS S&T over the past seven years.

Her next great adventure is about to begin and like her predecessors experienced, it’s gonna be a helluva ride.