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News Release 96-004

NSF Supports PBS "Breakthrough" Series

NSF Funds Substantial Portion of Tribute to Scientists, Engineers of Diverse Cultural Backgrounds

January 26, 1996

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation is supporting more than half of the 20 American scientists and engineers whose successful careers will be highlighted in a six-hour, prime time Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) series, "Breakthrough: The Changing Face of Science in America."

The "Breakthrough" project has received a grant of nearly $1.8 million from NSF's Informal Science Education Program. Eleven of the scientists and engineers portrayed in the series also have received education or research grants from the agency.

NSF supports all aspects of non-medical science, mathematics and engineering, through grants to support basic research, as well as formal and informal science education at all levels. "We're excited about this project. Not only does the series focus on the scientists' successes in their work, but it dramatically presents how these individuals of such diverse backgrounds had to overcome challenges to achieve their goals," Hyman Field, Section Head for Science Literacy at NSF, said.

"The 'Breakthrough' series also provides the motivation and the resources to engage students, teachers, guidance counselors and a whole range of community leaders," Field continued. "There is a substantial, wide-ranging outreach component to the project that is very important as well."

After each program in the "Breakthrough" series, a toll free number will appear which viewers can call. They will receive specific information about informal science activities, science mentoring resources, science career information and scholarships available across the country.

An activity guide will also be made available to teachers and students nationally as part of the NSF-supported outreach effort. NSF has also provided support for a data base of several hundred scientists from various ethnic origins whose names will be available to the media as experts for science related stories.

"Breakthrough" will contribute to NSF's important goals of ensuring broad access to science, mathematics, engineering and technology educational opportunities, and helping every American to become educated citizens and live fulfilling, productive lives.


Media Contacts
Bill Noxon, NSF, (703) 306-1070, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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