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Photo of Dr. Subra Suresh

Dr. Subra Suresh
National Science Foundation

NSF FY 2013 Budget Presentation

February 13, 2012

Photo by Sandy Schaeffer

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.

[Slide: Title ]

Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the National Science Foundation. Thank you for your interest in NSF and for coming here today for our presentation of the President's fiscal year 2013 budget request for the Foundation.

Collaboration with our scientific community partners not only advances science and engineering knowledge but also furthers policymakers' understanding of our shared objectives. So we deeply value our longstanding relationships with many of you in the room today, as well as those participating by webcast.

In that regard, I would like to recognize Dr. Ray Bowen, Chairman of the National Science Board, who has joined us today. Ray, thank you for your continuing leadership, insight and support of the Foundation.

I would also like to publicly thank and recognize our 1,500 employees. World-class research requires a world-class workforce, and I am extremely proud of the efforts of our exceptional team in supporting our mission.

I have good news to report today. NSF has fared very well in the President's budget request. But before I give you the numbers, I would like to comment on why good news for NSF is good news for America--and for science everywhere. In times of constrained budgets, we need to be crystal clear about why NSF matters and why it matters especially now.

[Slide: Science and Technology: the New Frontiers of American Prosperity]

In today's changing economic landscape, science and technology are the new frontiers of American prosperity. The nation's well being and global competitiveness depend, more than ever before, on the steady stream of new ideas and the highly skilled science, technology, engineering and mathematical talent that the National Science Foundation supports, and particularly the young researchers that NSF so skillfully nurtures.

The globalization of science and engineering has not only led to healthy competition for ideas, but also stiff competition for science and engineering talent, and for leadership in turning knowledge into technologies and benefits for society.

For the last half century, the U.S. has held a commanding position in all three areas. Our universities rank among the best in the world. Our scientists and engineers have led the world in discovery and innovation. Our entrepreneurial spirit and know-how have created a vibrant private sector and good jobs.

It is NSF's mission to support the full breadth of science and engineering research and education. We are constantly alert to emerging ideas with the potential to transform the world, establish new paradigms, and even foster new industries. NSF has helped to make the U.S. an undisputed world leader in science, technology and innovation.

There is overwhelming consensus worldwide that frontier research and technological innovation, driven by a creative and skilled science and engineering workforce, are the new engines of economic growth. It is a measure of our success that other nations are emulating the NSF model.

The rapid growth of research and education capacity worldwide is not only desirable, but necessary. In tandem with today’s stiffer competition, there are also enormous opportunities for greater international collaboration. Science and technology can improve the prospects for economic prosperity and a rising standard of living around the globe. Few--if any other--sources can provide this measure of growth and security. The U.S. can be both a partner and a leader in this global enterprise.

As President Obama once said, "America does not stand still. We move forward." The NSF budget request moves America forward by connecting the science and engineering enterprise with benefits for Americans in areas critical to job creation, a growing economy, and a higher standard of living.

[Slide: Big Picture]

Now for the best news of the day. The President is requesting a total of $7.373 billion dollars for NSF in FY 2013. That's an increase of $340 million, or 4.8 percent above the FY 2012 enacted level. The budget request includes substantial increases for core programs in frontier research and for education and human resources.

The Administration and Congress have conveyed their clear determination to build on the nation's history of success in leading-edge discovery and innovation. That is the unambiguous message of the President's 2013 budget request for NSF. Bipartisan support in Congress for the 2.5 percent increase in our 2012 budget reinforces that message.

NSF has identified critical funding priorities that will provide long-term benefits for the nation. We have also made tough choices to reduce or eliminate lower priority programs, and seized opportunities to leverage resources for maximum impact. We have also held the line on operating expenses. I have no doubt that NSF merits the $7.373 billion that the President has proposed and that I anticipate Congress will approve.

This budget presents a well-targeted portfolio of innovative investments that align closely with the Administration's priorities. It provides increased support for fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. This core research, which constitutes the largest share of NSF expenditures, lays the foundation for progress in science and technology and enhances our ability to address emerging challenges. NSF investments in advanced manufacturing, clean energy technologies, cybersecurity and STEM education will support the Administration’s government-wide priorities in these critical areas.

[Slide: OneNSF]

These investments in fundamental research and education and interdisciplinary challenges are vital to the nation's future. Adopting new ways to work will help NSF reach our goals faster and more effectively. OneNSF is a comprehensive vision of how NSF operates in partnership with the science and engineering community to support the NSF mission.

OneNSF empowers the Foundation to respond to new challenges in a global science and engineering environment that is changing rapidly. It aims to leverage financial and human resources for maximum impact. It encourages leadership by promoting innovative practices and programs inside and outside of the Foundation to advance scientific knowledge and STEM education. These capabilities--responsiveness, leverage, and leadership--are the core characteristics of OneNSF.

NSF has put the OneNSF operational philosophy into practice in shaping our strategic budget priorities. Let’s look at how NSF will fuel advances through the 2013 budget and beyond.

[Slide: Fundamental Research and Education across All Fields of Science and Engineering]

NSF is the only federal agency with a mandate to support research and education in every discipline. The results of frontier research have a long record of improving lives and meeting national needs. They are the very bedrock of economic growth; the path to energy, agricultural, and environmental sustainability; the seeds of the next technology revolution; and the foundation for advances in medicine. Sustained momentum in NSF's core programs is essential for progress in science and engineering. The broad scope of NSF puts us in a unique position to integrate the natural sciences and engineering with the social, behavioral and economic science to address the complex societal challenges of today. For all these reasons, the 2013 budget provides increased support for the core fundamental research programs across NSF. You will hear more about these investments in the sessions for the directorates and offices that follow this presentation

The most rapid returns to NSF investments accrue when research is integrated with the education and training of undergraduate and graduate STEM talent at the nation's colleges and universities. These institutions are the training grounds for the next generation of science and engineering leaders. Many freshly minted graduates move into the private sector, carrying with them the new knowledge that could generate the next technology revolution. NSF expects to support the efforts of almost 285,000 researchers, postdoctoral fellows, trainees, teachers and students in FY 2013.

The Foundation's core research programs also fuel multidisciplinary initiatives. In the spirit of OneNSF--a description of which can be found in your handout--these initiatives leverage NSF resources in new ways to boost innovation and meet national needs. While I will mention a few examples here, additional interdisciplinary efforts will be described in the breakout sessions with the directorates and offices.

[Slide: SEES]

Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) is NSF's flagship portfolio to address pressing issues of clean energy and sustainability. SEES research is designed to capture the interplay among ecosystems, economic forces, and energy. SEES will provide the knowledge we need to solve a wide range of highly complex challenges. These include sustainable energy pathways; agricultural and environmental sustainability; sustainable chemistry, engineering and materials; water scarcity; ocean acidification; and natural disaster prediction and response.

[Slide: CIF21]

NSF has a long history of investments in cyberinfrastructure. Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21) provides a framework for integrating cyberinfrastructure in research at all scales, and across every discipline. These powerful tools will increase the productivity of research and promote new ways for discovery.

[Slide: CIF21: Advanced Computing Infrastructure]

As the first pillar of the CIF21 initiative, today we are announcing an updated Vision and Strategic Plan for NSF investments in Advanced Computing Infrastructure. The Plan calls for increased fundamental research to support grand challenges in computing, modeling and simulation, networking and big data for the coming decades. The goal is ambitious: to put the entire spectrum of science and engineering communities at the cutting edge of technologies in computing hardware and software. The new Plan represents a common vision across every directorate and office of NSF. Copies will be available in the breakout sessions that follow my remarks.

[Slide: CEMMSS]

NSF's Cyber-enabled Materials, Manufacturing, and Smart Systems (CEMMSS) is a path-breaking effort to develop "smart" systems that can sense, respond and adapt to changes in the environment. The program brings together researchers and educators from the areas of advanced manufacturing, materials science, cyber-physical systems and robotics to build an integrated community of interest and stimulate new directions in research.

[Slide: President's Advanced Manufacturing Initiative]

This research includes support for the President's Advanced Manufacturing Initiative, and includes NSF participation in the Materials Genome Initiative and the National Robotics Initiative. These cross agency initiatives will help stem the decline in U.S. manufacturing as a share of GDP and employment. This "leap-ahead" effort is needed to meet challenges to U.S. competitiveness.

[Slide: SaTC]

Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) is a broad research and education program designed to protect the Nation's critical information technology infrastructure, including the Internet, from a wide range of threats that challenge its security and reliability.

As President Obama has pointed out, the "cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation." 1 The cybersecurity vulnerabilities in our government and critical infrastructure are a risk to national security, public safety, and economic prosperity.

SaTC also addresses the social, behavioral and economic aspects of cyber security. NSF will continue to support the Federal Cyber Service: Scholarships for Service program with the goal to ensure that the federal government can recruit and retain talented individuals.

[Slide: INSPIRE]

Integrated NSF Support for Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) provides opportunities for innovative discovery through multidisciplinary research. INSPIRE aims to capture interdisciplinary ideas that fall outside the scope of more directed solicitations. The intent is to create a culture that encourages collaboration, innovation, intelligent risk-taking, and experimentation. INSPIRE creates strong incentives for researchers from different fields to work together.

[Slide: I-CORPS]

The NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) is a public-private partnership to accelerate the movement of research results from the lab to the marketplace. I-Corps provides NSF-funded researchers with financial resources and puts them in contact with technology developers, business leaders and venture capitalists whose expertise and mentoring can help them bridge the gap between discoveries and downstream technological innovations. I-Corps helps facilitate the development of technologies, tools and processes from NSF-sponsored fundamental discovery. The response to I-Corps since its launch last summer has been remarkable, and some substantial success stories are already on the horizon.

[Slide: The Next Generation of Leaders in Science and Technology]

The programs I've described—and, in fact, all NSF programs—require a world-class 21st Century workforce.

Efforts to maintain national science and technology preeminence in a fiercely competitive global environment rest upon a highly educated workforce. The 2013 budget continues NSF's long history of support for the next generation of leaders in science, technology and innovation. NSF maintains a principled commitment to support young scientists through the Graduate Research Fellowships and CAREER programs.

[Slide: President's Mathematics Education Initiative]

The President is proposing a new K-16 mathematics education initiative to systematically move successful education programs from early research through widespread, effective use. The initiative draws on NSF's strength in mathematics education research and the Department of Education's ability to scale up successful programs at state and local levels. We anticipate that this innovative partnership will have a broad impact on students' mathematics skills.

[Slide: Focus: Undergraduate Education]

Other NSF investments aimed at improving the quality of undergraduate STEM instruction complement the President's new initiative.

The Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program will help undergraduate teaching keep pace with advances in disciplinary knowledge and underpin the creation of new learning materials, teaching strategies, faculty development, and evaluation.

The Widening Implementation and Demonstration of Evidence-Based Reforms (WIDER) program is an education research and development program that will transform the way undergraduate students, including non-STEM majors, are taught and learn general science and mathematics.

Expeditions in Education (E2), is a new interdisciplinary effort to ensure that all of NSF's education and workforce investments are drawing on the latest educational theory, research, and evidence. E2 aims to incorporate cutting-edge science and engineering into the preparation of a world-class scientific workforce.

[Slide: Collage: ALMA, LHC, HIAPER, NCAR Wyoming Supercomputer Center, Sikuliaq]

The excellence of U.S. universities and the preeminence of our scientists and engineers are driving forces of American discovery and innovation. The world-class equipment and facilities that NSF supports are also essential to the task of discovery.

2011 was a banner year for discoveries supported by NSF-funded facilities. The Atacama Large Millimeter Array, the world's most sensitive, highest resolution, millimeter-wavelength telescope "opened its eyes for the first time." Astronomers from around the world submitted almost 1,000 proposals for the limited first season of observations. Among them were 221 U.S. investigators at 55 different institutions who are collaborators on the 112 highest-ranked proposals.

As you know, NSF was a major contributor to the construction of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, and continues to support the work of U.S. physicists who use the facility. Researchers conducting experiments with the LHC announced early, promising results in their search for the Higgs Boson--particles believed to give other particles mass. NSF's High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research, HIAPER, completed its circumpolar mission to generate the first detailed mapping of the global distribution of greenhouse gases, black carbon, and related chemicals in the atmosphere.

The opening of two additional NSF-funded facilities is on the near horizon. The NCAR Wyoming Supercomputer Center will begin operations later this year, and the global-class Alaska Region Research Vessel, Sikuliaq, will be launched in October of this year.

[Slide: Collage: AdvLIGO, OOI, NEON, ATST]

The FY 2013 Budget provides continuing support for the development and construction of four other facilities. These include:

  • The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Advanced LIGO);
  • The Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST);
  • The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI); and
  • The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON).

[Slide: Science, Engineering and Technology: the New Frontiers of American Prosperity]

I am optimistic that NSF will maintain budget momentum in FY 2013, even in a tight budget environment in which resources are constrained.

NSF investments in research and education have returned exceptional dividends to the American people. To keep those benefits flowing, we need to constantly replenish the wellspring of new ideas and train new talent while serving as good stewards of the public trust. That is the fundamental and continuing mission of NSF. With global competition for knowledge and talent reaching a red-hot pitch, we must focus our attention on finding the sophisticated solutions that will ensure a prosperous, secure and healthy future for the nation and the world.

[Slide: OneNSF]

Our OneNSF vision seeks to galvanize and coalesce the enormous talents of NSF staff and the NSF-funded research and education community to secure that future.

The Foundation plays a vital role in ensuring that America remains at the epicenter of the ongoing revolution in research and innovation that is driving twenty-first century economies. More than ever, the future prosperity and well being of Americans depend on sustained investments in our science and technology. NSF has been and continues to be central to that purpose. The FY 2013 budget request for NSF clearly acknowledges NSF's pivotal role in ensuring America's future.

Thank you. Now, I'm happy to answer any questions.

[Slide: Title]


1. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-Securing-Our-Nations-Cyber-Infrastructure/ (Return to speech)



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