NSF & Congress
Dr. Rita Colwell
National Science Foundation
Before the House Committee on Science
U.S. House of Representatives
April 25, 2001
Chairman Boehlert, Ranking Member Hall, members of
the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify
at this important hearing. I welcome the opportunity
to discuss the National Science Foundation's budget
request for fiscal year 2002.
Mr. Chairman, before I begin with the details, I would
like to express my deep appreciation for your many
years of dedication to research and science education,
particularly at NSF. Without this sustained support,
NSF would not be where it is today. This Committee
and its members have been instrumental in bringing
a greater awareness to Congress and society of the
importance of basic research to the economic wellbeing
of our nation.
This year's NSF budget request contains sizeable increases
in education and human resources activities and research
priority areas, underscoring the Administration's
commitment to the future of our nation. We look forward
to working with the Congress as the process proceeds.
Let me first lay out the big picture of what's being
proposed for FY 2002. NSF is requesting a total of
$4.47 billion--that's $56 million more, or a 1.3 percent
increase, above FY 2001. The highlight is the request
for Education and Human Resources (EHR), which receives
an 11 percent increase. We have also provided solid
increases for administrative accounts, which are very
important in insuring wise stewardship of tax dollars.
In other areas, the Research and Related Activities
account will basically maintain its current level
of support, and the Major Research Equipment account
will drop by one-fifth.
Let me put these numbers in a different context. The
FY 2002 Budget Request reflects the strength of the
Foundation--a broad base of research and education
activities that provides the nation with the people,
the ideas, and the tools needed to fuel innovation
and economic growth.
In our FY 2002 request, investments in people are up
13 percent from last year. We cover kindergarten to
career development. This investment encompasses much
of our Education and Human Resources Directorate as
well as many activities funded across the Foundation.
NSF directly supports about 200,000 people -- including
teachers, students, researchers, postdocs, and others.
Moreover, the benefits of NSF programs are felt throughout
the population in terms of new discoveries, scientific
and technological advances, and improved math and
science educational opportunities that affect all
of our lives.
Now, let's look at the highlights.
Math and Science Partnerships
We are particularly pleased that the President's budget
has designated NSF to lead the Math and Science Partnerships
element of the No Child Left Behind education initiative.
At the center of the FY 2002 request is an initial
$200 million of a planned $1 billion over 5 years
which will be used to improve K-12 science and math
education through partnerships. NSF will provide funds
for states and local school districts to join with
institutions of higher education--mathematics, science,
and engineering departments of local colleges and
universities--to strengthen K-12 math and science
education. The request includes $90 million in new
funds and a redirection of $110 million from existing
EHR programs with similar strategies and goals.
This investment will provide K-12 students with enhanced
opportunities to perform to high standards. This important
component of the President's education initiative
will help states address teacher quality; math and
science curricula and textbooks; enrollment numbers
in advanced science and math courses; and assessment.
Graduate Student Stipends
The second key opportunity this request addresses is
something that is long overdue: increasing graduate
student stipends. The FY 2002 Budget provides $8 million
to increase stipends for the Graduate Research Fellowships,
the Graduate Teaching Fellowships in K-12 Education,
and the Integrative Graduate Education and Research
Traineeship programs. Stipends will increase from
$18,000 to $20,500 for academic year 2002-2003.
This increase is extremely important. According to
an NSF survey of recent S&E bachelor's recipients,
more than one-third stated that they were not pursuing
graduate studies because of financial reasons. We
must work to ensure that adequate numbers of students
are willing and able to enter graduate S&E programs.
Although graduate student enrollment in U.S. science
and engineering programs increased in 1999 after five
consecutive annual decreases, students with temporary
visas accounted for the entire upswing. If we do not
boost the number of skilled U.S. workers the nation
will certainly suffer.
A centerpiece of NSF's core investments in FY 2002
is the Interdisciplinary Mathematics Research program
funded at $20 million. Our total investment in mathematical
sciences will increase 16.5%. Mathematics is a powerful
tool for insight and a common language for science
and engineering. This emphasis on the mathematical
sciences recognizes its increasingly critical role
in advancing interdisciplinary research. This investment
will bring cutting-edge mathematics to address problems
in the physical, biological, and social sciences.
Some examples include studies of brain function, communication
networks, modern economic behaviors, and the modeling
and prediction of major weather events, such as tornadoes
In addition to investments in core research and education,
NSF identifies and supports emerging opportunities
in priority areas that hold exceptional promise to
advance knowledge. The FY 2002 Budget emphasizes four
priority areas - Biocomplexity in the Environment,
Information Technology Research, Nanoscale Science
and Engineering, and Learning for the 21st Century.
All of these areas receive increased investment over
last year's amounts.
Biocomplexity and the Environment
The FY 2002 budget request builds on past investments
in our Biocomplexity in the Environment portfolio
and increases funds by nearly 6 percent, to $58 million.
Computational and information technologies, real time
sensing techniques, and genomics are providing insight
into the interactions among ecological, social, and
physical earth systems. For example, recently investigators
have been studying contaminant flux of the lower Mississippi
River, dynamics of an invasive non-native species
on the Pacific Coast, and marine mammal abundance
in the western Arctic Ocean. Developing new research
instruments and software that advance cross-disciplinary
studies in the environment will continue to improve
our understanding of the planet and its systems.
Information Technology Research
The Information Technology Research budget request
expands fundamental research in another multidisciplinary
area. Our requested $273 million investment, 5 percent
over last year, allows us to explore ways of making
large-scale networking, software, and systems more
reliable, stable, and secure. This will permit diverse
applications from telemedicine, to interactive education,
to the remote operation of experimental apparatus--such
as the telescope at the South Pole. Other research
will improve our understanding of human-computer interactions
and investigate the impact of IT on our society, on
our economy, and on our educational system. Because
the information technology sector has contributed
significantly to recent U.S. economic growth, these
investments remain a top priority.
Nanoscale Science and Engineering
In nanoscale science and engineering--colloquially
known as nanotechnology--activities range from investigation
of biologically based systems that exhibit novel properties
to the study of nanoscale control of the structure
and composition of new materials. Recognizing the
importance of this emerging discipline, NSF is increasing
its investment by 16.1 percent to $174 million in
Fundamental research programs will investigate biosystems
at the nanoscale--such as nanoscale sensors to detect
cancer. Research will focus on system architectures,
nanoscale processes in the environment--for instance,
the trapping and release of contaminants--multi-scale
modeling, and large-scale computer simulation of processes
at the molecular or atomic level. Grand challenges
include major long-term research objectives in nanoscale
electronics, nano-based manufacturing, and nanostructured
materials by design.
Learning for the 21st Century
Learning for the 21st Century addresses two interrelated
challenges: understanding how we learn; and transferring
that knowledge for use in schools, homes and other
learning environments. Research, development, and
testing of educational tools incorporating information
technology will give us a much better understanding
of how they can be used effectively in the classroom.
Accordingly, the NSF request for these activities,
$126 million, is a 3.3 percent increase over last
A key component of this priority area is the Centers
for Learning and Teaching program. Like the Math and
Science Partnerships, these link K-12 and higher education.
They allow opportunities for teachers to gain new
skills in the use of information technology in education,
new knowledge in science and mathematics, and--most
importantly--allow them to integrate these with new
research on learning. Applications of research results
will increase opportunities for higher achievement
and, ultimately, produce a workforce able to meet
the challenges of rapid scientific and technological
Other FY 02 highlights
I'd like to bring this overview to a close by sharing
some other highlights.
I am a firm believer in the Experimental Program to
Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR--which enables
researchers to participate more fully in NSF research
activities. FY 2002 funding for EPSCoR will total
nearly $100 million. This includes about $75 million
provided through the EHR appropriation and another
$25 million provided through NSF's Research and Related
The FY 2002 budget provides about $65 million to support
ongoing research on the genomics of plants that have
major economic importance. The long-term goal of this
program is to understand the structure, organization,
and function of plant genomes that are very important
to agriculture, the environment, and health.
Along that same line, the 2010 project will support
research to determine the functions of the 20,000
to 25,000 genes in the recently sequenced Arabidopsis
On another front, the FY 2002 budget provides about
$26 million to initiate a new cohort of Science and
Technology Centers in areas that span the range of
disciplines supported by NSF.
As provided in recent legislation to strengthen the
technology workforce, approximately $144 million is
anticipated to be received from H-1B nonimmigrant
visa application fees. These funds support Computer
Science, Engineering and Mathematics (CSEM) Scholarships
and Private-Public Partnerships in K-12.
The budget request also includes $26 million for the
GK-12 program. That will put a lot of graduate students
in K-12 classrooms to learn the art of teaching. They
share their research with younger students and serve
as role models that are so important, especially in
Major Research Equipment
Finally, the Major Research Equipment account for
FY 2002 will fund three continuing projects:
First, $24.4 million is requested for the George E.
Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation.
This is a national collaboration of approximately
20 geographically-distributed, shared-use experimental
research equipment sites that seeks to improve the
seismic design and performance of U.S. civil and mechanical
We will invest $16.9 million to continue funding the
Large Hadron Collider, the internationally supported
collaboration at CERN. This superconducting particle
accelerator will advance our fundamental understanding
Additionally, $55 million is requested to support the
infrastructure to allow access to terascale computing
systems. This will enable all researchers and engineers
access to leading-edge computing capabilities.
We know from past experience that NSF funding should
cover a broad base of disciplines to make sure we
have excellence in everything we fund. It should open
the potential for every field to be connected and
to contribute. Science and engineering today are integrated
and answer each other's questions, and inspire future
In order for the nation to be able to use new knowledge
for economic and social progress, we have to make
a national commitment to support these efforts. In
the current fiscal climate, this budget lays the foundation
for sustained increases over the long term while also
providing opportunities in all fields of science and
We have a responsibility to convince the public and
Congress that long-term investments in science and
engineering make our economy stronger and our lives
easier and more rewarding. As we work more efficiently
within budget constraints, we definitely can plan
for the future--ensuring a steady stream of investments.
Working together, we can set the stage for increased
investments over the long haul. Thank you.