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Dr. Bordogna's Remarks


Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Deputy Director
Tennessee Valley Corridor Economic Summit 2000
Cannon Caucus Room (345 Cannon HOB)

May 29, 2001

See also slide presentation.

If you're interested in reproducing any of the slides, please contact
The Office of Legislative and Public Affairs: (703) 292-8070.

Good afternoon to all of you. I'm delighted to be here today to talk about the National Science Foundation's research and education priorities for the coming fiscal year. Thanks to Congressman Zack Wamp, Congressman Bud Cramer, and Congressman Van Hillary for hosting this summit and to Tom Ballard for his good work with the Tennessee Valley Corridor.

I've been asked to say a few words about how NSF fits into the overall context for science and engineering - and what are some of the major challenges we see. I hope to pull these two threads together, because today, the context for science and engineering shapes the challenges and opportunities that lie before us.

What do I mean? Consider that today's terascale computing systems give us 2 to 3 orders of magnitude more computing power than we've ever had before. At the same time, advances in nanoscale science and engineering give us the ability to manipulate matter and build machines that are 3 orders of magnitude smaller than ever before.

This means one thing: the future will not look like the past. We can't predict what it will look like, but it's our job collectively to lay the foundation today for these future achievements and opportunities.

The National Science Foundation aims at nothing less than U.S. world leadership in science, engineering, and technology. That's what we're about, and our budget priorities reflect that mission - in both research and education, and their integration.

[NSF Vision Statement]
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I want to set my remarks within the context of the NSF vision statement. It's direct and crisp."

"Enabling the nation's future through discovery, learning, and innovation."

Not too long ago, the vision statement would have focused only on discovery. Now we include learning and innovation on an equal footing. The boundaries that once separated discovery, learning, and innovation are known now not to be as distinct as they once were thought to be. There is a more forthright coupling among them, and constant interaction.

[NSF Outcome Goals: People, Ideas, Tools]
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We've developed a new set of goals to complement the new NSF vision, a sharply focused set on which we can focus our investments, and by which we can be held accountable. We call these People, Ideas, and Tools.

You'll notice that People are at the top of the list. That's intentional. NSF is as much about building a world-class workforce as it is about discovery. We're putting a renewed focus on preparing the science, engineering and technology workforce.

Knowledge workers - scientists, mathematicians, engineers, educators - will be in increasingly high demand. Other nations know this: A 24-year-old in Japan is three times more likely to hold a bachelor's degree in engineering than one in the U.S.

Of course, Ideas, the new knowledge that is powering innovation and productivity in our economy today, will always be central to everything NSF does. And, finally, we need sophisticated Tools to advance the frontiers in nearly every field.

[NSF Core Strategies]
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We've adopted three core strategies to accomplish these goals. These are: develop intellectual capital, integrate research and education, and promote partnerships.

This is where the rubber hits the road. It's where we design the solutions to get the job done effectively.

I've taken this jaunt through NSF planning territory for a reason. As I give you the details of the NSF FY 2002 budget request, I'd like you to keep NSF's vision, goals and strategies in mind. We try to use the budget resources we have in a thoughtful and strategic way to realize our objectives.

Now, on to the budget.

[NSF Budget Request by Appropriation]
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Here's the bottom line. NSF is requesting a total of $4.47 billion. Funding levels for each of NSF's appropriation accounts at the FY 2002 Request and FY 2001 Current Plan levels are shown in this chart.

I'll move right to the top priorities in NSF's budget request for FY 2002.

[Science & Math Partnerships]
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At the center of NSF's budget request is an initial $200 million dollar downpayment on a five year, $1 billion dollar investment K-12 science and math education.

The President has asked NSF to lead the Math and Science Partnerships program as part of the No Child Left Behind education initiative. NSF will fund states and local school districts to join with institutions of higher education.

This program aims to strengthen math and science standards, improve curricula and textbooks, and raise the quality of teacher professional development.

[Graduate student stipends]
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We're also placing a special focus on graduate student stipends. A recent study found that 57 percent of bachelor's degree recipients did not apply to science and engineering graduate programs for financial reasons. The average stipend for graduate students in these fields is less than half the average wage for those who start working as soon as they receive their undergraduate degrees.

The budget includes $8 million dollars to increase graduate stipends for Fellows in a number of NSF programs. The stipends would increase from $18,000 to $20,500. That's a good beginning, but we want to see this figure increase even more in the near years ahead, perhaps on the order of $25 to $30 thousand dollars.

[Interdisciplinary Mathematics]
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Now, let me move on to NSF's $20 million dollar Interdisciplinary Mathematics program. It's the centerpiece of our core investments in FY 2002. The program aims to strengthen fundamental research in mathematics, and at the same time enhance its contributions to other fields.

[Priority Areas]
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We're also continuing to support key emerging capabilities. These are priority areas that hold exceptional promise to advance knowledge. The FY 2002 budget focuses on four of these.

First is Biocomplexity in the Environment. The term "biocomplexity" refers to the dynamic web of relationships that arise when living things at all levels - from cells to ecosystems - interact with their environment, both natural and human-made.

Second is Information Technology Research. NSF funding will deepen fundamental research on software, networking, scalability and communications that will take us to the next generation of applications.

The third priority area is Nanoscale Science and Engineering. If IT can give us the capability to do things three orders of magnitude faster, nanotechnology will let us work on a scale three orders of magnitude smaller.

The final priority area I'll mention is a group of related activities we call Learning for the 21st Century. There's been tremendous progress in research in a range of fields: cognitive neuroscience, computational linguistics, human and computer interactions, and learning environments. The time is ripe to bring these fields together to develop a better understanding of the entire process of learning.

[Where Discoveries Begin]
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Let me conclude my remarks by highlighting a few key points.

  • An economy rooted in science, engineering, and technology can't sustain itself without a vibrant basic research enterprise and a world class cadre of scientists and engineers.

  • We also need to keep lifting the capabilities of our core disciplines through our priority investments while striking out in new directions at the frontiers of research and education.

  • And, we need to continue creating and nurturing our partnerships among industry, academe, and government.

I'll stop there, because that's where you come in.



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