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Remarks

Photo of Kathie L. Olsen
Credit: Sam Kittner/kittner.com

Dr. Kathie L. Olsen
Deputy Director
National Science Foundation
Biography

"Science and Education in the 21st Century: Samarbeid Innen Forskning"

Norwegian Science Week
Washington, D.C.

October 21, 2008

[Slide 1: Science and Education in the 21ST Century: Samarbeid Innen Forskning]
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Good afternoon. My greetings to our many friends from Norway: Ambassador Strommen and Dr. Johne;1 Arvid Hallén and Karl Kveseth of the Research Council of Norway; Kyrre Levke of the Research and Education Ministry; and all distinguished guests from Norway and the United States. It is a privilege to celebrate Science Week with you.

In 2003, Dr. Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation, and I, in my role as associate director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, spoke at a similar symposium hosted by the Royal Norwegian Embassy. We spoke about conducting a transatlantic dialog on this century's converging scientific frontiers. We spoke also of the historic importance of the friendship and scientific cooperation that the United States and Norway share, based on the "common waters of our experience."

Today, I'd like to again emphasize the importance of that samarbeid innen forskning--collaboration in research--that we share.

Most nations recognize that science and technology serve as the foundations for building national prosperity and addressing common challenges. Strategic partnerships in research and education move us effectively along that path, to mutual benefit.

At the U.S. National Science Foundation, we are delighted to count Norway as a partner that uses its vast store of science and engineering talent, skills, and resources to thrive and prosper.

U.S.-Norwegian collaborations have flourished since I last spoke with many of you at the Norwegian Embassy. Today I want to review some of our joint accomplishments since then, and join you in a preview of the transformative research and education projects that will help shape prosperity for the remainder of this century.

[Slide 2: Partners in Discovery and Innovation]
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Many nations have contributed to the global history of invention, innovation, and discovery. The nations who work together increase their likelihood of success.

The United States and Norway share a commitment to keeping science and technology at the forefront of our domestic and international priorities. We devote a healthy proportion of our human and financial capital to this goal.

Our collaborative research has contributed enormously to the science needed by decision-makers to solve the 21st century's most pressing problems.

[Slide 3: My Dad – On Top of the World]
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Many of you know that I also have personal and family ties to Norway. Here is my father, literally standing almost on top of the world.

[Slide 4: International Polar Year]
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Again and again, research in the Arctic and Antarctic has proven its value as a bellwether of the effects of a changing environment and changing climate.

The International Polar Year, or IPY, brought global recognition of the need for close attention to conditions in the polar regions. The United States and Norway were among those who took advantage of the enhanced focus on polar research to expand our scientific partnerships.

[Slide 5: East Antarctic Traverse]
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The Norwegian-U.S. Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica demonstrated that we will literally go to the ends of the earth to meet our goals.

Last winter, a team of Americans and Norwegians set out across the frozen continent toward the South Pole. The expedition was outfitted with tracked vehicles, ice core drills, and lots of warm clothes. The team's mission was to gather data on the role of the Antarctic icecap on climate, and the effects of climate change on ice and snow.

This December, the team is scheduled to begin a second traverse.

[Slide 6: Observing Extent of Arctic Sea Ice]
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While the U.S.-Norway team began their trek across the ice, the U.S. and Norway joined other nations in an IPY initiative to link individual Arctic observing systems into a circumpolar network. This network gives us a comprehensive picture of the interactions of ocean, ice, and atmosphere above the Arctic Circle.

Our ability to combine datasets, and work together to analyze them, gave us a better understanding of why sea ice in the Arctic Ocean reached its lowest levels in decades, during the summers of 2007 and 2008.

[Slide 7: Exploring the Upper Atmosphere]
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An incoherent scatter radar captures a record of activity taking place far above the ice and snow, in the upper atmosphere and ionosphere.

This is the realm of space weather--the region between the Sun and Earth's atmosphere. Space weather disturbances can disrupt technological systems here on Earth, such as communication systems and power grids.

During IPY, a network of U.S. and Norwegian radars operated almost continuously for a year and a half, obtaining the first ongoing observations of space weather effects in the ionosphere.

[Slide 8: 50 Years of Atmospheric Radar Observations]
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Today, October 21st, marks the 50th anniversary of the first incoherent scatter radar experiment.

Last year, the atmospheric science community mourned the passing of one of its pioneers--Tor Hagfors--who contributed a number of important innovations to radar facilities in both the United States and Norway. He is shown here, at left, at NSF's Arecibo telescope, along with Bill Gordon, another pioneer.

Even as we celebrate our past accomplishments, the U.S. and Norway are working together to design a new generation of radar capability.

[Slide 9: Exploring the Earth's Hazards]
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The activity taking place underground is just as important as what's going on high in the sky, and on the surface of the planet.

At locations ranging from Monterey Bay, California, to Finneidfjord, Norway, a team of geo-scientists is analyzing soils and probing the seabed to determine the role of sediment in the formation of earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural hazards.

Australia joins the U.S. and Norway in supporting this work. The 5-year project, known as an NSF Partnership for International Research and Education, engages junior as well as established researchers from the three countries.

[Slide 10: Beginning Scientists Building Bridges]
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From the outer reaches of the atmosphere to the depths of the underground, our partnerships promise the citizens of the world a vast library of discovery and knowledge about the richness of our planet.

The United States and Norway share the goal of building a 21st century workforce with a global perspective and skills in cross-cultural teamwork to carry on this work. Helping to realize that vision are beginning scientists and engineers building bridges in a number of scientific areas.

Among those poised to lead tomorrow's atmospheric science experiments is Norwegian Anja Stromme, funded by the National Science Foundation to conduct postdoctoral studies at radar facilities in both the United States and Norway.

[Slide 11: Beginning Scientists Building Bridges]
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Nina Karnovsky, a young biology professor from Pomona College near Los Angeles, has been supported by NSF and the Norwegian Polar Institute to study little auks in their Arctic habitats on Svalbard and Greenland. She first received an NSF International Research Fellowship, then an Arctic program grant.

[Slide 12: Beginning Scientists Building Bridges]
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U.S. postdoc Kenyon Mobley, using an NSF International Research Fellowship, joined colleagues from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology to study environmental influences on the breeding of gobies found in Norwegian waters.

At NSF, we are confident that by supporting international research opportunities early in a scientist's career, we are sowing the seeds for a lifetime of potential partnerships.

[Slide 13: Educating & Training the Workforce]
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Attracting students to study science and technology is the prelude to our shared commitment of training a workforce for the 21st century.

For six years, groups of U.S. undergraduates have traveled to Svalbard with their professors to conduct research in environmental monitoring. They are funded by the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

Norwegian students are now joining their US peers each summer, supported by the University Centre in Svalbard, as a result of a U.S.-Norwegian collaboration begun during IPY.

[Slide 14: Educating & Training the Workforce]
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Yet another partnership between U.S. and Norwegian universities allows undergraduate students to conduct hands-on research in carbon sequestration--a potential tool in the climate change toolbox. They are funded by the NSF program International Research Experiences for students.

Here is one of the students outside the Nobel Institute, perhaps anticipating his future Nobel prize.

[Slide 15: Educating & Training the Workforce]
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Graduate research programs are the critical link in retaining students in the many professions available to science and engineering graduates.

I'm very excited about a Nordic pilot program proposed by the National Science Foundation and Research Council of Norway. It will allow NSF-supported graduate research fellows to apply for research tours of up to one year in Norway. I am grateful to Bonnie Thompson, of NSF's international office, and Bill Hahn, of NSF’s education directorate, for their hard work in establishing this pilot program for a graduate student partnership.

We see a bright future for this kind of student-focused activity, and we believe it will strengthen our growing partnership, while helping to shape a globally focused workforce for both of our countries.

[Slide 16: Expanding Our Boundaries]
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As we move forward, I am confident that many nations will come to recognize U.S.-Norwegian partnerships as a rich source of invention and innovation on which to build future prosperity.

[Slide 17: From Studying the Brain...]
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There are many fields in which we have just begun to explore opportunities for partnerships, and others which have not yet appeared on our radar screens.

We are making great strides in the realm of understanding and enhancing human performance. In my own field, neuroscience, the United States and Norway are among the partners in an international neuroinformatics network.

Edvard Moser is well-known in the United States for his founding work at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for the Biology of Memory in Trondheim, which complement and collaborate with U.S. neuroscience research centers.

On behalf of NSF, I congratulate Norway on being welcomed into the Human Frontier Science Program, a venue for innovative research on the complex mechanisms of living organisms, including systems and cognitive neuroscience.

[Slide 18: ...To Sustaining the Environment]
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One area of deep concern is finding ways to protect and preserve the natural resources on which the world relies. This is a topic on which U.S. and Norwegian scientists are finding common ground.

Potential energy and environmental solutions may come from our growing ability to shape -- and reshape -- molecules and materials.

Through the Materials World Network, we have a framework for partnering with each other and with other nations to conduct groundbreaking research and train a future workforce in materials science and nanoscale science and technology.

[Slide 19: Social Science & Science Policy]
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Aside from the advances in physical infrastructure, we face challenges in the social sciences--especially where national economies, resources, and cultures combine to influence science and technology policy.

There, too, the United States and Norway are working together toward common goals.

I am especially excited about the U.S.-Norway workshop being planned to shape future research in an emerging field, the Science of Science and Innovation Policy.

Together, U.S. and Norwegian policy experts will examine how scholarly research can contribute more fully to the needs of decision-makers responsible for formulating science and technology policy.

At NSF, this work has the potential for helping to shape our future model for investments in research and education.

[Slide 20: International Cyberinfrastructure]
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Assisting us in our globally oriented pursuits are the cyber-networks that encircle the earth. The high-performance connections of NorduNet link the Scandinavian countries and other regions of Europe to GLORIAD, the ambitious project that allows scientists and educators worldwide to share ideas and data.

The GLORIAD network is supported by a consortium of countries, including the United States and Norway. Many terabytes of data are moving each month through the GLORIAD networks, and in the not-too-distant future, we expect that to increase to petabytes.

[Slide 21: Samarbeid Innen Forskning]
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The projects I've mentioned are just a small sampling of the opportunities we are pursuing to deepen our relationship.

Many of you know that the U.S. and Norwegian governments have established a framework for greater collaboration in scientific research and education. NSF's director, Dr. Arden Bement, signed the agreement in Washington, D.C., in December 2005, on behalf of the US government.

There is great enthusiasm for international collaboration among government officials, working scientists, and science educators. We are especially pleased to count Norway, with its highly advanced research and education enterprises, as a trusted partner.

I know that we have mountains to climb to restore confidence in the economy. At the same time, we must move forward on other global challenges. I also know that, by climbing those mountains together, we can be sure that invention, innovation, and discovery will serve as a firm foundation for a more prosperous future.

Thank you again for inviting me to participate in Science Week. May our collaboration in research -- "samarbeid innen forskning" – long continue!

NOTES

1 Wegger Chr. Strommen, Ambassador, and Berit Johne, Counselor for Science, Royal Norwegian Embassy, Washington, DC. (Return to speech)

 

 

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