Skip To Content Skip To Left Navigation
NSF Logo Search GraphicGuide To Programs GraphicImage Library GraphicSite Map GraphicHelp GraphicPrivacy Policy Graphic
OLPA Header Graphic

Dr. Colwell's Remarks


Dr. Rita R. Colwell
National Science Foundation
NSF 2002 Budget Briefing

April 9, 2001

See also: slide presentation

Good afternoon and welcome to NSF. It's such a beautiful spring day today. I'm sure all of us can imagine any number of diversions from cherry blossoms to chocolate bunnies. Thank you for joining us here at NSF.

As we were gathering today, we were treated to a few examples of major advances supported by NSF that got media attention last year. The breadth and scope of these highlights underscores that progress comes through a long supportive and nurturing process, which requires reliable funding over the long-term. It was a great 50th anniversary year for NSF, and I want to thank you and so many others for supporting these vital investments.

The budget cycle this year has had its share of the uncertainties that accompany any Presidential transition. The Administration, to its credit, is determined to hold the line on discretionary spending. As a result, agencies across the government are facing tight constraints.

We at NSF consider ourselves fortunate this cycle. Several agencies, which appear to be less fortunate, look with envy on our budget request, and we look forward to working with the Congress as the process proceeds.

NSF's FY 2002 proposed budget [slide].
(Use "back" to return to the text.)

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% increase, above FY 2001.

NSF budget request by appropriation

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.

The highlight is the Education and Human Resources (EHR) appropriation, which receives an 11% increase.

We have also been able to provide solid increases for administrative accounts which is very important.

The research 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.

NSF's strategic goals

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.

We see here these three goals identified in the NSF strategic plan.

FY 2002 budget request

People are NSF's most important resource. They represent both the focus of our investments and the most important products of them. Support for programs specifically addressing NSF's Strategic Goal of People totals more than $1 billion in FY 2002.

And in addition, about 40% of the funding for research grants--an amount approaching $900 million in FY 2002 -- provides support for researchers and students, making up about 60,000 post doctorates, trainees, graduate, and undergraduate students.

People generate the ideas that are the currency of the new knowledge-based economy. Tools enable scientific discovery, and they provide access to unique educational opportunities. They also open new opportunities for innovative applications well beyond basic research. Advances in information technology are a particularly striking example of this.

NSF budget request by strategic goal

These three goals work in concert. They reinforce each other in ways that boost U.S. leadership in all aspects of science and engineering research and education.

You'll see these goals highlighted throughout the budget documents. The different categories tell a fuller and better story than the appropriations accounts.

Investments in people are up 13 percent. We cover kindergarten to career development. This investment encompasses much of our Education and Human Resources Directorate, as well as, many activities funded right across the Foundation.

NSF supports about 200,000 people -- teachers, students, researchers, postdocs, and others.

No Child Left Behind education initiative

Now, let's look at the highlights. 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 $1 billion over 5 years which will be used to improve K-12 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.

This investment will help ensure that all K-12 students have the opportunity to perform to high standards. We'll support the direction of the President's education initiative by addressing teacher quality; math and science curricula and textbooks; enrollment numbers in advanced science and math courses; and assessment.

No Child Left Behind education initiative

We anticipate two major categories of partnership activities: infrastructure and action. Each requires the establishment or strengthening of partnerships, plans for improving math and science education, and, very importantly, accountability mechanisms.

Infrastructure partnerships will provide frameworks for states to partner with institutions of higher education to gauge their current status with respect to math and science education. Infrastructure activities are expected to be broad in scope and aim at state-specific issues, such as, teacher training and certification, data generating capabilities, or aligning assessments to high standards.

Action partnerships are more regionally focused so that reform efforts in math and science education are closely tailored to local needs and realities.

Graduate fellowships

The second key opportunity addresses something that is long overdue: 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 adequate numbers of students willing and able to enter graduate S&E programs. Although graduate student enrollment in U.S. science and engineering programs increased in 1999 after 5 consecutive annual decreases, students with temporary visas accounted for nearly the entire increase. Efforts to boost the number of skilled U.S. workers must continue.

Graduate student stipends

Currently, the average stipend level for graduate students in science and engineering disciplines is about half the average wage for bachelor's degree recipients.

This increase is a very important step to address the income disparity. It's also a very positive step toward our goal of $25,000 annual stipends.

Interdisciplinary mathematics

A centerpiece of NSF's core investments in FY 2002 is the Interdisciplinary Mathematics program funded at $20 million.

Mathematics is a powerful tool for insight. It's a common language for science and engineering. This emphasis on the mathematical sciences recognizes its increasingly critical role in advancing interdisciplinary research. It will bring cutting-edge mathematics to problems in the physical, biological, and social sciences.

Some examples include studies of brain function, communication networks, modern economic behaviors, and the prediction of major weather events, such as tornadoes or hurricanes.

Priority areas

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.

Biocomplexity in the Environment

The FY 2002 budget request builds on past investments in our Biocomplexity in the Environment portfolio. 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.

This investment 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 have to 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.

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.

The research will also look into the potential impact of nanotech on society, which some claim will be extraordinary.

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 collective learning environments. This research will expand our fundamental knowledge about learning and teaching.

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.

We will make investments in Centers for Learning and Teaching. 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 change.

Other FY 2002 highlights

Let's bring this overview to a close by sharing some other exciting highlights.

The Children's Research Initiative, which studies children, learning, and the influence of families and communities on child development, will stay at $5 million.

Funding for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR--which enables researchers to participate more fully in NSF research activities--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 Activities account.

As provided in recent legislation to strengthen the technology workforce, approximately $144 million is anticipated to be received from H1-B nonimmigrant fees. These funds support Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics (CSEM) Scholarships and Private-Public Partnerships in K-12.

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.

Other FY 2002 highlights

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 genome.

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.

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 inner-city schools.

In the management arena with the aim of further increasing efficiency, NSF will evaluate the need for management reforms in several areas, including grant size and duration and large facilities management.

Major research equipment

And finally, the Major Research Equipment account for FY 2002 will fund three continuing projects:

First, the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, which is now 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.

We will also continue funding the Large Hadron Collider, the internationally funded collaboration at CERN. This superconducting particle accelerator will advance our fundamental understanding of matter.

Additionally, funding will support infrastructure to allow access to terascale computing systems. This will enable all researchers and engineers access to leading-edge computing capabilities.

Where discoveries begin

Well, I think it's clear that NSF is a wellspring of discovery and learning at the frontiers. We know from past activities that 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 generations.

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 engineering.

This budget offers challenges to the entire scientific and engineering community. We have a responsibility to convince the public, the Congress, and the new Administration 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 again for joining us at NSF today.

Note: For additional information about the NSF FY02 Budget Request, see the budget page.



National Science Foundation
Office of Legislative and Public Affairs
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22230, USA
Tel: 703-292-8070
FIRS: 800-877-8339 | TDD: 703-292-5090

NSF Logo Graphic