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Remarks

Photo of Cora Marrett

Dr. Cora Marrett
Acting Director
National Science Foundation
Biography

NSF Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request
Stafford I, Room 1235

March 10, 2014

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

[Slide #1: NSF Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request]
Use "Back" to return to speech.

Good morning to everybody, and welcome to the National Science Foundation.

Last week, when President Obama released the Administration's FY 2015 Budget Request, he did this at the Powell elementary school. He said, "[T]he budget is not just about numbers, it's about our values and it's about our future, and how well we are laying the groundwork for these young people to be able to succeed in America. These kids [he continued] may not be the most excited people in town on budget day, but my budget is designed with their generation and future generations in mind."

As we present the President's 2015 Budget Request for the National Science Foundation, I think the sentiment the President expressed is precisely what we at NSF want to make possible. I will acknowledge too--you might be a bit more excited than the elementary school kids were on budget day. We are excited because the work we do aims to make the world of tomorrow better for America.

[Slide #2: NSF Core Mission: Fundamental Research]

For more than six decades, the core mission of NSF has been to support fundamental scientific research, and that research has had a profound impact on our nation's innovation ecosystem and pushed forward the frontiers of scientific knowledge.

As the only Federal agency dedicated to the support of basic research and education in all fields of science and engineering, NSF empowers discoveries across a broad spectrum of scientific inquiry.

The 2015 budget request for the National Science Foundation is just under $7.3 billion.

Based on the experience of prior years, we can estimate that about 94 percent will be spent on supporting research, education and facilities, meaning that the vast majority of our budget actually goes back to states and localities through the grants and awards we make.

Overall, we expect to receive about 50,000 grant proposals during the year, from which our competitive merit review process will result in funding about 11,000 awards.

NSF provides 24 percent of total federal support of academic basic research in all science and engineering fields in the U.S., meaning we expect some 2,000 U.S. colleges, universities, and other institutions to receive NSF funding.

Each year, NSF awards thousands of grants that engage the talents of about 300,000 researchers, postdoctoral fellows, trainees, teachers and students. That support is distributed among individuals, teams, centers and major facilities across a vast array of disciplines.

Because of our comprehensive commitment to empower discoveries, NSF helps keep our nation at the very forefront of the world's science-and-engineering enterprise.

[Slide #3: The Big Picture]

With this budget request, the Administration has conveyed its determination to build on the nation's history of success in leading-edge discovery and innovation.

The budget request calls for $7.255 billion, an increase of $ 83 million--or 1.2%-- over the FY 2014 Estimate.

[Slide #4: FY2015 Budget Request]

The major elements of the budget request are cited here, allocated among the six major NSF accounts.

"Research and Related Activities"--representing just over 80% of the budget request -- is devoted to grants for fundamental research and discovery. NSF has been known for years as the place "where discoveries begin," and we take that mission very seriously.

"Education and Human Resources" is slated to receive an increase of $43 million, which I'll discuss in a moment.

In other areas, the NSF budget is in line with previous budgets, except for "Agency Operations & Award Management," representing an increase of $40 million. This increase is primarily due to the costs associated with the future headquarters of the Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia. This is currently projected for completion in 2016. This re-location will generate savings over the time of the new lease.

Now overall, NSF has identified critical funding priorities that will provide long-term benefits to the nation. We have made difficult choices to reduce or eliminate lower priority programs, and we've seized opportunities to leverage resources for maximum impact. All of this is embedded in the budget that the President has proposed for NSF, and we look forward to presenting it to the U.S. Congress.

Now although today's primary focus is the presentation of the budget request, we are also releasing the 2014-2018 Strategic Plan for NSF--the title of it is "Investing in Science, Engineering, and Education for the Nation's Future." The plan--and you can get copies of the trifold--presents the following Strategic Goals:

  • First, "Transform the Frontiers of Science and Engineering."

  • Second, "Stimulate Innovation and Address Societal Needs through Research and Education."

  • And third, "Excel as a Federal Science Agency."

Again, the summaries of the Plan are available, but for more detailed information, please go to the NSF website.

[Slide #5: Clean Energy Technology]

The President has noted that scientific discovery, technological breakthroughs, and innovation are the primary engines for expanding the frontiers of human knowledge and are vital to responding to the challenges of the 21st century. The budget we are proposing today is in line with the Administration's science and technology priorities.

For FY 2015, NSF proposes to invest $362 million in fundamental research that will lead to future clean energy and energy efficient technologies. Specific activities include research related to sustainability science and engineering, including the conversion, storage, and distribution of diverse power sources, and the science and engineering of energy materials, energy use, and energy efficiency.

[Slide #6: Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability ]

The budget calls for NSF to invest $139 million in Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability--or SEES. This video incorporates findings from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, helping to reveal the fine-scale structure of storms and improve forecasts in the future.

SEES is intended to increase our understanding of how an integrated system of supply chains, society, the natural world, and human activities can create a sustainable world.

[Slide #7: Cognitive Science and Neuroscience]

NSF will invest $29 million in FY 2015 in ongoing cognitive science and neuroscience research, including NSF's contributions to the Administration's Brain Research through Advancing Innovation and Neurotechnologies--that's the formal name for the BRAIN Initiative. Improved understanding of the brain will promote brain health, enable engineered solutions that address lost neurological functions, improve the effectiveness of formal and informal educational approaches, and lead to brain-inspired smarter technologies for improved quality of life.

[Slide #8: Cyber-enabled Materials, Manufacturing, and Smart Systems]

Cyber-enabled Materials, Manufacturing, and Smart Systems--or CEMMSS--will receive $213 million in this budget. CEMMSS aims to integrate a number of science and engineering activities across the Foundation, including breakthrough materials, advanced manufacturing, robotics and cyber-physical systems.

This video illustrates NSF-funded research into self-assembling nano boxes that open the door to "smart" particles with multiple medical and advanced manufacturing applications.

CEMMSS will address pressing technological challenges facing the nation and promote U.S. manufacturing competiveness. CEMMSS is aligned with key interagency activities, including the Administration's Materials Genome Initiative, Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, and the National Robotics Initiative.

[Slide #9: Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science Engineering, and Education]

We will invest $ 125 million in our Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science, Engineering, and Education--or CIF21. You understand why we have to do these acronyms; to remember all these words would be a bit difficult. CIF21 will accelerate and transform the process of scientific discovery and innovation by providing advanced cyberinfrastructure and new capabilities in computational and data-enabled science and engineering. In FY 2015, NSF will continue to lead the Big Data program, which strives to enable breakthrough discoveries and innovation in science, engineering, medicine, commerce, education, and national security.

[Slide #10: Innovation Corps]

The Foundation’s Innovation Corps--or I-Corps--will receive $ 25 million, improving NSF-funded researchers' access to resources that can assist in bridging the gap between discoveries and downstream technological applications.

On the left, we have a photo of Ayanna Howard, who used an NSF grant to develop an input device that allows children with disabilities to operate tablet computers. I-Corps funding enabled her to commercialize the technology to get it to the children who need it.

On the right is Stephen DiMagno, who founded a company that manufactures molecules that become imaging agents for managing cancer, cardiac disease and neurological disorders.

In FY 2015, NSF will continue to support I-Corps Nodes and I-Corps Sites to further build, utilize, and sustain a national innovation ecosystem that augments the development of technologies, products, and processes that benefit the nation.

[Slide #11: BioMaPS]

We will invest $ 29 million in Research at the Interface of the Biological, Mathematical and Physical Sciences--or BioMaPS. This is a collaboration among the Directorates for Biological Sciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and Engineering, that seeks to discover fundamental knowledge at the intersections of these established disciplines. This effort will produce critical knowledge needed to catalyze the development of new technologies essential again for the nation’s prosperity for economic competitiveness and will advance emerging areas of the bioeconomy. There is actually a document from the Administration entitled The National Bioeconomy Blueprint. The plans here are fully aligned with that blueprint.

[Slide #12: Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace]

The Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace--or SaTC--investment of $100 million will enhance the knowledge base in cybersecurity that enables discovery, learning and innovation, and will lead to a more secure and trustworthy cyberspace. Through a focus on long-term, foundational research, SaTC will develop the scientific foundations for cybersecurity research for years to come. SaTC aligns NSF's cybersecurity investments with several initiatives outlined in the national cybersecurity strategy, entitled Trustworthy Cyberspace: Strategic Plan for the Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Program.

[Slide #13: Antarctic Logistics]

NSF aims to increase the operational efficiency of U.S. activities in the Antarctic by investing $ 19 million, continuing the progress on a multi-year commitment toward more efficient and cost-effective science support as recommended by the 2012 U.S. Antarctic Program, the Blue Ribbon Panel report. Someone looking at this slide said you can see why we need so desperately to improve the logistics – if this is Antarctica and this is the way people have to get around when the weather is good. These logistical investments will include safety and health improvements, investments with positive net present value, and facilities renewal at McMurdo and Palmer stations. Additionally, NSF aims to plan and execute more effective observational approaches to the Antarctic science community, again, as enhanced and outlined in the 2011 National Research Council report, Future Science Opportunities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

[Slide #14: Graduate Research Fellowship Program]

Now earlier I cited Education and Human Resources funding, so let me now return to that category.

NSF's Graduate Research Fellowship program will receive $333 million, continuing this long-standing and national-level competition that supports the outstanding scientists, engineers, educators, and entrepreneurs of the future.

On the left, Anna Normand, a Ph.D. Student and NSF Graduate Research Fellow with the University of Florida’s Soil and Water Science Department, conducts climate research at Abisko Research Station in Sweden.

On the right, Graduate Research Fellow Mark Albins observes an invasive Indo-Pacific Lionfish in a Bahamian sea-grass bed.

The ranks of NSF Fellows include numerous individuals who have made transformative breakthroughs in science and engineering research, with 40 Fellows having been honored as Nobel laureates. In FY 2015, 2,000 new awards will be made and the stipend level will increase from $32,000 to $34,000. The development of additional targeted opportunities for Fellows to enrich their professional growth will continue, as will a longitudinal evaluation study of the Graduate Research Fellowship program for us to determine its impact.

[Slide #15: Improving Undergraduate STEM Education]

The Improving Undergraduate STEM Education--or IUSE--program will receive $118 million for a more extensive coordination of our undergraduate STEM education investments. This is within a framework that’s designed to accelerate improvement and measurable impact of our undergraduate STEM education programs.

The program is built upon a knowledge base accumulated from decades of research, development, and best practices activities across the nation in STEM undergraduate education. The program integrates theories and findings from education research with attention to the needs and directions for frontier science and engineering research.

Two examples of IUSE are shown on the slide. On the left are undergraduates at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. They have been taking part in Mote’s ongoing cancer research that uses sharks as biomedical models.

On the right are an undergraduate and an professor engaged in research at the University of Maine. During the summer of 2014, the school’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology – would you repeat that after me? This LASST will offer the opportunity for a limited number of highly qualified undergraduate students to participate in research under the guidance of various faculty in the area of sensor science and engineering.

[Slide #16: President’s Opportunity, Growth & Security Initiative]

In addition to the FY 2015 Budget Request, the President has put forward a vision for an economy that promotes opportunity for all Americans. This is done through the fully-paid-for Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative--or OGSI--that presents additional investments to enlarge the economy and create jobs.

The President's OGSI Initiative includes an additional $552 million for NSF. The additional funding provided through this Initiative will accelerate progress in broad areas of science and engineering that address clearly defined national priorities, such as advanced manufacturing, clean energy, cybersecurity, neuroscience, and STEM workforce development--areas I've already mentioned. We estimate that this initiative could support an additional 1,000 new research grants--providing us the opportunity to fund at least some of the many good proposals we have to decline every year because of our funding limitations.

[Closing Slide #17: NSF Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request]

In 2015 then, we will continue on our journey of process improvement and community engagement. As a public agency, we must build and sustain trust for our mission through the transparency of our processes and the accountability of our organization. We are making substantial progress on what we have termed the transparency and accountability initiative. We’re making that progress particularly in efforts to improve public understanding of our funding decisions through our research titles and abstracts.

We are continuing our efforts to improve public access to NSF-funded research. We are building on existing technology to track research products, allow investigators and awardees to make their products known and available, and allow the general public, researchers, and policy makers to locate and make use of those products.

NSF is committed to the principle that all Federal agencies have a responsibility to continually look for ways to save funds and deliver services efficiently and effectively. At last year’s Budget Roll-out--and of course you all remember last year's roll-out--we emphasized our support for administrative initiatives to improve the efficiency of operations. We are using improved Information Technology systems to monitor processes and develop strategies for providing more transparency in our operations. The 2015 request continues to set a number of performance goals so that we can ensure progress on our priority program investments, research infrastructure investments and key management initiatives.

As we look forward to the future, I am confident that the Foundation will continue to play a vital role in ensuring that America remains at the epicenter of the ongoing revolution in research and discovery that is driving twenty-first century economies. More than ever, the future prosperity and well-being of Americans depend on sustained investments in science and engineering, and the FY 2015 budget request acknowledges the Foundation’s pivotal role in ensuring America's future through fundamental science and engineering research.

Thank you for the time you’ve taken this morning, and I believe Judy says now I would be happy to answer questions.

 

 

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