NSF & Congress
Dr. Rita Colwell
National Science Foundation
Before the Before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on
VA, HUD and Independent Agencies
May 16, 2001
Chairman Walsh, Ranking Member Mollohan, members of
the Subcommittee, it is an honor to be here today
as Director of the National Science Foundation. I
welcome the opportunity to discuss the NSF budget
request for fiscal year 2002.
Before I begin with the budget, Mr. Chairman, I would
like to commend you for your many years of dedication
to sound investments in research and science education.
You and the members of the Subcommittee have shown
strong leadership in stressing the importance of basic
research to the economic wellbeing of our nation.
Without this sustained support and vision, NSF would
not be where it is today. I am deeply appreciative
of your efforts and your wisdom.
Now 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
percent increase, above FY 2001. The highlight is
the request for Education and Human Resources (EHR),
which receives an 11 percent increase. We have also
provided solid increases for administrative accounts,
which are very important in insuring wise stewardship
of tax dollars. In other areas, the Research and Related
Activities 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. 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.
In our FY 2002 request, investments in people are up
13 percent from last year. We cover kindergarten to
career development. This investment encompasses much
of our Education and Human Resources Directorate as
well as many activities funded across the Foundation.
NSF directly supports about 200,000 people -- including
teachers, students, researchers, postdocs, and others.
Moreover, the benefits of NSF programs are felt throughout
the population in terms of new discoveries, scientific
and technological advances, and improved math and
science educational opportunities that affect all
of our lives.
Now, let's look at the highlights.
Math and Science Partnerships
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 a planned $1 billion over
5 years which will be used to improve K-12 science
and math 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. The request includes $90 million in new
funds and a redirection of $110 million from existing
EHR programs with similar strategies and goals.
This investment will provide K-12 students with enhanced
opportunities to perform to high standards. This important
component of the President's education initiative
will help states address teacher quality; math and
science curricula and textbooks; enrollment numbers
in advanced science and math courses; and assessment.
Graduate Student Stipends
The second key opportunity this request addresses is
something that is long overdue: increasing 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 would not pursue
graduate studies because of financial reasons. We
must work to ensure that adequate numbers of students
are willing and able to enter graduate S&E programs.
Although graduate student enrollment in U.S. science
and engineering programs increased in 1999 after five
consecutive annual decreases, students with temporary
visas accounted for the entire upswing. If we do not
boost the number of skilled U.S. workers the nation
will certainly suffer.
A centerpiece of NSF's core investments in FY 2002
is the Interdisciplinary Mathematics Research program
funded at $20 million. Our total investment in mathematical
sciences will increase 16.5 percent. Mathematics is
a powerful tool for insight and a common language
for science and engineering. This emphasis on the
mathematical sciences recognizes its increasingly
critical role in advancing interdisciplinary research.
This investment will bring cutting-edge mathematics
to address problems in the physical, biological, and
social sciences. Some examples include studies of
brain function, communication networks, modern economic
behaviors, and the modeling and prediction of major
weather events, such as tornadoes or hurricanes.
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. All of these areas receive increased investment
over last year's amounts.
Biocomplexity and the Environment
The FY 2002 budget request builds on past investments
in our Biocomplexity in the Environment portfolio
and increases funds by nearly 6 percent, to $58 million.
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. Our requested $273 million investment, 5 percent
over last year, 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 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. Recognizing the
importance of this emerging discipline, NSF is increasing
its investment by 16.1 percent to $174 million in
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.
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
schools, homes and other learning environments. 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. Accordingly, the NSF request for
these activities, $126 million, is a 3.3 percent increase
over last year.
A key component of this priority area is the Centers
for Learning and Teaching program. Like the Math and
Science Partnerships, 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
Other FY 02 highlights
I'd like to bring this overview to a close by noting
some other highlights.
I am a firm believer in the Experimental Program to
Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR--which enables
researchers to participate more fully in NSF research
activities. FY 2002 funding for EPSCoR 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
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.
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
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.
As provided in recent legislation to strengthen the
technology workforce, approximately $144 million is
anticipated from H-1B nonimmigrant visa application
fees. These funds support Computer Science, Engineering
and Mathematics (CSEM) Scholarships and Private-Public
Partnerships in K-12.
The budget request also includes $26 million for the
GK-12 program. That will put hundreds of graduate
students in K-12 classrooms to learn the art of teaching.
They will share their research with younger students
and serve as role models that are so important, especially
in inner-city schools.
Major Research Equipment
Finally, the Major Research Equipment account for FY
2002 will fund three continuing projects:
First, $24.4 million is requested for 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 that seeks to improve the
seismic design and performance of U.S. civil and mechanical
We will invest $16.9 million to continue funding the
Large Hadron Collider, the internationally supported
collaboration at CERN. This superconducting particle
accelerator will advance our fundamental understanding
Additionally, $55 million is requested to support the
infrastructure to allow access to terascale computing
systems. This will enable all researchers and engineers
access to leading-edge computing capabilities.
We know from past experience that NSF funding should
cover a broad base of disciplines to insure constant
sources of innovation. NSF 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
We all have a responsibility to convince the public
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 must 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.