This is an interview with Arati Prabhakar, founder and CEO of Actuate, a nonprofit organization that aims to accelerate American research and development systems. Prabhakar recounts her family’s Indian heritage, and her mother’s decision to immigrate to the United States on her own and pursue a degree in social work. She describes her childhood in Lubbock, Texas and describes being the only student with an Indian background in high school. Prabhakar discusses her undergraduate education at Texas Tech in Lubbock where she majored in electrical engineering, and she describes the opportunities leading to her graduate work in applied physics at Caltech where she worked with Tom McGill on developing quaternary materials. She explains that her interests in real-life problem solving led to a fellowship with the Office of Technology Assessment in Congress, which in turn led to her government service at DARPA. Prabhakar describes her initial work at DARPA on gallium arsenide technology, and she explains the impact of the end of the Cold War on DARPA and on her career. She explains the circumstances leading to her move to NIST to lead the Institute where she focused on building up the Advanced Technology Program and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Prabhakar discusses the personal and professional reasons she decided to move to California to work at Raychem in 1997 and then Interval Research, and then Venture Capital, where she worked on funding semiconductor research. She describes her interests in clean energy and how she came back to Washington to head DARPA where there was a major focus on clean energy and pandemic preparedness. Prabhakar explains how and why DARPA operates in the realm of biological research and how she navigated the existential paradox of a leading an agency built on nimbleness within the world’s largest bureaucracy. At the end of the interview, Prabhakar explains how her career in both the private and public sectors prepared her for her current interests in utilizing research and development to confront macrosocial challenges.