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U.S. Science Policy - Some Challenges. Arthur Bienenstock October 7, 2000 Innovative Structures in Basic Research Conference of the Max Planck Society. Bienenstock. Physicist & Materials Scientist Physics and structure of disordered and amorphous materials

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u s science policy some challenges

U.S. Science Policy - Some Challenges

Arthur Bienenstock

October 7, 2000

Innovative Structures in Basic Research

Conference of the Max Planck Society

  • Physicist & Materials Scientist
  • Physics and structure of disordered and amorphous materials
  • Director of Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory through much of its development
  • Since 11/97, OSTP associate director for science
    • Concerns about funding for physical sciences & engineering

OSTP Director

  • Neal Lane
  • Assistant to the President (President's Science Advisor)
  • Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy

OSTP Mission

  • Advise the President on policy related to science and technology
  • Advise the President on other policy matters where science and/or technology is relevant
  • Coordinate interagency activities
u s almost unique among industrialized nations
U.S. almost unique among industrialized nations
  • No national universities (except for military)
  • Instead, system of private and state-funded universities
  • Federal support of university-based research
    • >60% of Federally supported basic research
    • ~1/3 of Federally supported civilian R&D
  • Federal government is extremely dependent on a system which it does not support or control directly
  • Large fraction of research support is provided to individuals, or groups of individuals, on basis of competitive, peer-reviewed proposals.
  • Any faculty member, junior or senior, can apply
some federal agencies supporting s t related research
Some Federal Agencies Supporting S&T-Related Research
  • Agriculture
  • Commerce
  • Defense
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Health and Human Services
  • Interior
  • Justice
  • National Aeronautics & Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation
  • Transportation
importance of research to the united states
Importance of Research to the United States
  • Economy
  • Health
  • Environment
  • National Security
  • Transportation
  • Justice
  • Human Curiosity
  • Science and Technology Workforce Development
x rays
  • Discovered in 1896 by Roentgen as part of particle physics experiments (1901 Nobel Prize in Physics)
  • Used for diagnostic and therapeutic radiology within year
ct scan image of brain tumor
CT-Scan Image of Brain Tumor
  • FromThe Whole Brain Atlas
  • Neuroimaging Primer, Keith A. Johnson, M.D.
  • http://www.med.harvard.edu/AANLIB/hms2.html
why cat scans so long after x rays
Why CAT-Scans So Long After X-rays?
  • Computers
    • Solid-state physics
    • Materials scientists
    • Engineers
    • Computer scientists
  • Detectors
    • Physicists
    • Engineers
  • Algorithms
    • Mathematicians
    • Computer scientists
  • Almost all working on goals unrelated to CT-Scans

In vivo microscopy of trabecular bone

image area


J.H. Kinney, N.E. Lane, D.L. Haupt, J Bone Miner Res 10:264–270 (1995)

estrogen deficiency induces rapid bone loss and altered architecture
Estrogen deficiency induces rapid bone loss and altered architecture

before estrogen loss

after estrogen loss

Scan bone volume(%) connectivity(mm-3)

Baseline 23.0±2.5 (n=5) 100±5 (n=6)

Post OVX 9.2±5.6 (n=3) 15±10 (n=3)

Kinney & Haupt 94

interdependencies of sciences
Interdependencies of Sciences
  • High energy physics storage ring
  • Developed by materials scientists and solid-state physicists for synchrotron radiation
  • Team of physician, materials scientists and computer scientists apply to osteoporosis
  • Need social scientists to alter women’s behavior
increasing balance
Increasing Balance
  • 15-20% increases for NSF Core Research Divisions
    • Biological Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Mathematical and Physical Sciences
    • Social and Behavioral Science
Question: What instruments does the Office of Science and Technology Policy employ for redirecting research to new frontiers?
  • Answer: Interagency Initiatives
interagency initiatives in fy 2001 budget
Interagency Initiatives in FY 2001 Budget
  • Plant Genome
  • Information Technology - ~$2,200M
  • Nanotechnology - ~$500M
  • Interagency Education Research Initiative - ~$50M
interagency education research initiative
Interagency Education Research Initiative
  • PCAST Panel on Educational Technology calls (3/97) for "major program of experimental research" at $1.5B level
    • basic research in various educationally relevant technologies...
    • early stage research aimed at developing new forms of educational software…
    • rigorous, well-controlled, peer-reviewed, large-scale empirical studies designed to determine which educational approaches are in fact most effective in practice
  • PCAST Education Panel and OSTP consider structure through mid-98
interagency education research initiative1
Interagency Education Research Initiative
  • OSTP brings together, in 1998
    • DoEd's Office of Educational Research & Improvement
    • National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
    • National Science Foundation
  • Single program planned
    • Single solicitation (after many workshops)
    • Single evaluation process
    • "Assignment" of projects to specific agencies for funding as part of evaluation process
    • Interdisciplinary
    • Large scale
second question
Second question
  • How can research and funding organizations reliably identify innovative researchers with radical new programs not yet established within existing disciplines?
"Reliably" ?
  • Demanding reliability in this process will necessarily discourage decision-makers from supporting "innovative researchers with radical new programs not yet established within existing disciplines"
  • There have to be failures - and decision makers will fear being blamed for them
revert to experience as ssrl director
Revert to Experience as SSRL Director
  • Beam time extremely scarce
  • Proposal Review Panel rated "safe" experiments higher than high payoff-high risk
  • I asked them to identify latter anyway
  • On some, I overruled Panel and scheduled experiments anyway - explaining afterwards
  • Viewed such decisions as my responsibility
politicians and universities
Politicians and Universities
  • Many political issues depend on science or technology
  • Few members of Congress understand science
  • Rockefeller statement at PCAST
  • They all went to OUR universities - why didn't we educate them?
workforce view from ostp
Workforce - View from OSTP
  • Very low unemployment rate
  • Statements that unavailability of workers is limiting economic growth
  • Requests for increases in H-1B visas
  • Are these short-term phenomena?
growth in fraction of total u s workforce employed in st e
Growth in Fraction of Total U.S. Workforce Employed in ST&E
  • 1962 - 11%
  • 1995 - 15%

(OSTP analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics statistics)

bls projections job growth
BLS Projections - Job Growth
  • Professional specialty occupations
    • Includes scientists, engineers, medical personnel
  • 1986-1996 - Grew by 34%
  • 1996-2006 - Projected growth - 27%
  • Ten specific occupations with highest projected growth
    • 6 - health-related
    • 4 - computer-related
percent of 22 year olds earning science engineering degrees 1995
Percent of 22 Year Olds Earning Science & Engineering Degrees - 1995
  • African-Americans - 5.7
  • Asians - 21.6
  • Hispanic - 4.8
  • non-Hispanic White Females - 11.8
  • non-Hispanic White Males - 13.8
projections of future situation
Projections of Future Situation
  • If participation rates of all the groups remain the same and demographic projections are correct,
  • then fraction of workforce that is ST&E will decrease significantly at time when increase is likely to be needed.
Calculated Fraction of 22 Year Olds Receiving Bachelors Degrees in Science & Engineering if Award Rates of Various Groups Remain Constant
immigration the st e workforce 1995
Immigration & the ST&E Workforce - 1995
  • 12% of people in U.S. holding S&E bachelor’s degrees were naturalized citizens or non-U.S. citizens
  • Would have to increase immigration significantly to hold ST&E fraction of workforce constant if don’t increase domestic participation rates
  • Nations providing immigrants are building their own ST&E workforces and economies
basic conclusion
Basic Conclusion
  • Must remain attractive for immigration
  • Must increase participation rates of all groups in ST&E
  • Under-represented minorities, women and persons with disabilities represent largest potential pools