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Photo of Dr. France A. Cordova

Dr. France A. Córdova
U.S. National Science Foundation


Harold Rorschach Lecture
At the
Baker Institute Commons - Rice University
Houston, TX

April 10, 2017

Photo: NSF/Stephen Voss

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

Slide title: TEN BIG IDEAS
Realizing NSF's Vision for Future Research and Discovery

Slide words: Dr. France A. Córdova
Director, National Science Foundation

Harold Rorschach Lecture
Baker Institute | Houston, Texas
April 10, 2017

Slide image: conceptual illustration showing global interconnectivity

Image credit: ©

Thank you, Neal [Lane] and Doug [Natelson] for your warm welcomes and for the great honor of inviting me to give this 2017 Harold Rorschach Lecture.

Both Rice University and the Baker Institute are important partners with the National Science Foundation in a number of areas, and I'm delighted to renew some long-standing friendships and to meet many new friends this afternoon.

I must make special note of Neal's remarks because we share a special bond -- that of serving as Directors of NSF and experiencing all the joys and challenges that are part of that responsibility. I will always be grateful to Neal for the support and guidance he gave me when I was at NASA and he was at NSF and the government was going through a rather long shutdown. Neal was always available to share his thoughts with me on how to weather that uncertain environment.

Slide words: Harold "Bud" Rorschach, Jr.

Slide image: photo of Dr. Harold E. Rorschach, late chairman of the Physics Department at Rice University

Image credit: Rice University/CC-BY-3.0


Dr. Harold E. Rorschach, Space Physics and Astronomy Department, 1966-73 and 1991-1993

Bud Rorschach was a beloved figure in the Rice Physics Department. And we are very honored to be joined today by Bud's wife, Virginia Rorschach, and their daughter, Kelly. Ginny and Kelly, would please stand and be recognized?

Thank you.

Slide words: Vannevar Bush

Slide image: illustration of Vannevar Bush

Image credit: ©Estate of S.J. Woolf

We at NSF have a similar reverence for a prominent figure in our past - Vannevar Bush, commonly recognized as the guiding intellect behind the formation of the Foundation.

Both men had a passion for research in science and engineering, and a recognition that educational institutions should play a prominent role in conducting that research.

Bush's vision for NSF saw frontiers of science and engineering that were ripe to be explored, and the nation should use its celebrated boldness, and drive - and above all, its people - to do so. That entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive in NSF today.

NSF works every day to support basic -- or fundamental -- research that engages the scientific curiosity of hundreds of thousands of scientists, engineers, educators and students across the country.

Our research has had real-world impact, enhancing the lives of millions of people around the world - including everyone here!

Slide title: Our Mission

Slide words: "To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense..."

Slide image: photo of National Science Foundation new headquarters, Alexandria, VA

Image credit: NSF

From its inception in 1950, NSF has had an extraordinary mission: "To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense..." That mission remains as urgent and meaningful today.

By the way, we will soon pursue that mission in our new headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, shown in the slide.

And I might add that we have not been able to move all the furnishings to the building - so, Neal, I wanted to let you know that we'll be shipping those plastic Palm Trees that you were so fond of from the atrium to Rice!

Slide title: NSF by the Numbers

Slide image: diagram showing NSF funding
(Other than the FY 2017 Budget Request, numbers shown are based on FY 2016 activities.)

On the left:
$8 billion FY 2017 request
93% funds research, education and related activities
50,000 proposals

In the middle:
12,000 awards funded
2,000 NSF-funded institutions
362,000 people NSF supported

On the right:
Fund research in all S&E disciplines
Fund STEM education & workforce
223 NSF-funded Nobel Prize winners

Image credit: NSF

NSF is the only federal agency dedicated to the support of basic research and education across the full spectrum of science and engineering. We operate with an annual budget for which we requested about $8 billion in FY2017, and 93 percent of that budget goes to support research and educational activities in states and communities across the country, engaging the talents of more than 360,000 professionals. 85% of our research grants go to universities.

We must be doing something right, because at last count we supported 223 Nobel Laureates early in their careers - long before they were recognized for their breakthrough discoveries.

Slide title: NSF Funds Research and Education across all Fields of Science and Engineering

Slide words: (top row left to right) Biological Sciences; Engineering; Mathematical & Physical Sciences; Computer & Information Science & Engineering; Geosciences (including Polar Programs) (bottom row left to right) Integrative Activities; Education & Human Resources; Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences; International Science & Engineering

Slide images: (top row left to right) image of a cancer cell and lymphocytes; illustration of a carbon nanotube; illustration of an exoplanetary system; photo of Stampede supercomputer; photo of Ellsworth Range in Antarctica
(bottom row left to right) photo of two students with high-temperature high-vacuum molding system; photo of two Rutgers students working in a research lab; abstract photo of a crowd of people; digital image of Earth's horizon

Image credits: (top row left to right) Thinkstock; Christine Daniloff; Gemini Observatory/AURA; Sean Cunningham, TACC; James Yungel/NASA IceBridge
(bottom row left to right) Eddy Perez, LSU University Relations; Nick Romanenko; Thinkstock (2)

NSF funds all fields of science and engineering except clinical biomedical research. We support biology, engineering, math and physical sciences, computer and information science, cyberinfrastructure, the geosciences, polar sciences, and social, behavioral and economic sciences. We fund research on STEM education and development of the STEM Workforce.

The Foundation's annual budget represents just four percent of the total federal budget for research and development, but accounts for one quarter of the total federal support for basic research conducted at U.S. colleges and universities.

Slide title: NSF Support of Academic Basic Research
(as a percentage of total federal support)

Slide image: bar graph with words showing percentage of total federal support
24% All Science and Engineering Fields
40% Physical Sciences
41% Engineering
59% Environmental Sciences
61% Mathematics
67% Social Sciences
68% Biology
82% Computer Science

Image credit: Image credit: NSF
Source: NSF/NCSES, "Survey of Federal Funds for Research & Development," FY 2014.

In many fields, NSF is the primary source of federal academic support. For example, in computer science, NSF accounts for 82 percent of such investment.

We fund curiosity-driven ideas that push the frontiers of knowledge and discovery. These gains in knowledge have led to innovations with tremendous impact - for example, solar panels, 3-D printing, the Internet, lifesaving technologies and therapies, and much more.

Slide title: Examples of NSF Significant Investments

Slide words: 3-D printing breakthrough
LIGO Gravitational Waves
Autonomous Car Software
HL Tau Discovery
Foundation for the Internet
Qualcomm SBIR
Barcodes popularized
Google Early Web Browser

Slide images: top row from left to right) photo of 3-D printer; graph showing LIGO gravitational waves; photo of a self-driving car; image of HL Tau and its protoplanetary disk
(bottom row from left to right) internet icon; Qualcomm logo; photo of a barcode; Google logo

Image credits: (top row from left to right) FabrikaSimf/; NSF; Carnegie Mellon University; ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ) (bottom row from left to right) veronchick84/; Qualcomm; NelaR/; Google

This slide shows just a small sample of the amazing things for which NSF investments were instrumental.

I mentioned 3-D printing. Recently, our investments over many years in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory -- or LIGO - were successful when the first evidence of gravitational waves were observed here on Earth, causing widespread celebration around the world.

Our support of the Atacama Large Millimeter/ submillimeter Array - or ALMA -- telescope provides a testing ground for theories of star birth and stellar evolution, and solar system and galaxy formation. You can see here a remarkable ALMA image of the young star HL Tau and its protoplanetary disk, revealing multiple rings and gaps that herald the presence of emerging planets.

With the rise of self-driving cars, the advances made possible by NSF are becoming apparent in areas are such as precision sensors; computer vision, planning and reasoning; real-time data analytics and predictive modeling. NSF has funded advances in all of these areas.

NSF-supported research has led to Doppler radar; it has catalogued languages and decoded genomes; it helped popularize barcodes by improving their accuracy and making them ubiquitous on items from tissue boxes to shipping containers.

NSF supported the two Stanford student founders of Google, one with a Graduate Fellowship, and the other funded as part of the Digital Libraries project. NSF played a critical role in "mainstreaming" the Internet, helping shape its growth and operation.

Since our first investments in the small business innovation research - or SBIR - program, we have helped fund numerous start-up companies such as Qualcomm, which today is worth billions of dollars. SBIR exemplifies how NSF creates models of innovation and then helps them to grow and increase the scale of their impacts.

Not pictured here is the iPhone, which incorporates touchscreen technologies; GPS; memory chips; multi-core processors; and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries - the development of which NSF helped support.

Funding basic research serves as a foundation for these and so many other transformative scientific breakthroughs.

Slide title: NSF's Ten Big Ideas

Slide words (clockwise from top left): Research Ideas
-Harnessing Data for 21st Century Science and Engineering
-Work at the Human-Technology Frontier: Shaping the Future
-Windows on the Universe: The Era of Multi-messenger Astrophysics
-The Quantum Leap: Leading the Next Quantum Revolution
-Understanding the Rules of Life: Predicting Phenotype
-Navigating the New Arctic

(clockwise from bottom left ) Process Ideas
-Mid-scale Research Infrastructure
-NSF 2026
-NSF INCLUDES: Enhancing STEM through Diversity and Inclusion
-Growing Convergent Research at NSF

Slide images: (clockwise from top left) word graphic about data science; illustration of creative teams working on giant digital tablets and communicating digitally; aerial photo of LIGO in Livingston, LA; illustration of quantum computation with trapped ions; photo of seedling being watered by hand; photo of radio telescopes at ALMA in Chile; photo of IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica; aerial photo of melting ice in the Arctic
(bottom clockwise from left) photo of a broken bridge; graphic suggesting future ideas; U.S. map with photo montage of diverse people; illustration suggesting convergence

Image credits: (clockwise from top left) James Kurose, NSF; Jesus Sanz/; LIGO Scientific Collaboration; Joint Quantum Institute, University of Maryland; ©; F. Fleming Crim, NSF (2); Roger Wakimoto, NSF
(clockwise from bottom left) ©; © and design by Adrian Apodaca, NSF; design by Trinka Kensill, NSF; National Research Council of the National Academies Press

Recently, NSF has been reviewing recent developments in science and engineering. We're intently looking for promising breakthroughs in the research community that NSF can help make a reality -- what we're calling our "Ten Big Ideas."

These are ideas on the forefront of science and engineering that all have targeted goals that are particularly suited to NSF's broad portfolio of S&E, and can be realized with increased future investment.

They include both Big Research Ideas, and Big Process Ideas. The latter identify roadblocks to discovery and represent changes in NSF's traditional methods of assessment and funding.

Slide title: Windows on the Universe The Era of Multi-messenger Astrophysics

Slide images: (from left to right) photo of Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile; aerial photo of LIGO Observatory in Livingston, Louisiana; photo of IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica

Image credits: Fleming Crim, NSF; LIGO Scientific Collaboration; Fleming Crim, NSF

Today, we are poised to cross the threshold in our understanding of the universe we inhabit at all levels - quantum, molecular, cellular, and astronomical. Three of our Big Ideas push the boundaries of knowledge on all these frontiers.

There is so much that we have yet to learn about the cosmos. NSF's New Windows on the Universe idea allows scientists to explore the mysteries of space and space-time by combining the potential of multi-messenger observatories.

Our agency is uniquely positioned to do this with ground based observatories, like ALMA - which I just mentioned -- that observes at millimeter wavelengths, Ice-Cube at our South Pole Antarctica Station, which detects neutrinos, and our LIGO facilities in Washington State and Louisiana which detect gravitational waves.

Combined, these instruments observe and record in very different mediums - including electronic, particle and gravitational wave -- enabling researchers to detect previously undiscovered cosmic events as well as address open questions about the nature and evolution of the universe.

Slide title: Understanding the Rules of Life Predicting Phenotype

Slide image: photo of seedling being watered by hand

Image credit: ©

Turning to the biological sciences, this field holds the promise of fascinating capabilities for phenotype prediction based on what we know about genomes and their environment. Imagine a future when neurodegenerative disease is no longer a concern, or when environmental cleanup using bioengineered organisms is cheaper and faster than by mechanical means. The barrier to this future is our lack of knowledge about the rules that lead to the diversity of life on Earth, and how those rules apply across scales of time, space, and complexity.

We see opportunities to build up that knowledge base through the Rules of Life Big Idea. Scientists can now image and track biological structure and function at the cellular level, a critical step for addressing the genotype-phenotype challenge. These developments have provided a path to the emergence of new theoretical and analytical tools.

Slide title: The Quantum Leap Leading the Next Quantum Revolution

Slide image: illustration of Quantum Computation with Trapped Ions

Image credit: S. Kelley/Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), University of Maryland

Moving on to the science of incredibly small scientific research. New advances and growing international investments in quantum-enabled science and technology inspired our Quantum Leap Big Idea. This initiative aims to extend our understanding of the quantum world, furthering breakthroughs in the development of novel technologies.

Exploiting quantum properties like superposition, entanglement, and squeezing laser light sources will enable the next wave of precision sensors and more efficient computations, simulations, and communications.

Slide title: Harnessing Data for 21st Century Science and Engineering

Slide image: Data Science word graphic containing the following words:
Harnessing the Data Revolution; Mathematical Statistical Computational Foundations; Education Workforce; Inference; Semantics; EHR; Analytics; Privacy; Open Public Access; ENG; Discovery; Repositories; Data Science; Fundamental Research; CISE; GEO; Causality; Machine Learning; Cybersecurity; SBE; BIO; Domain Science Challenges; Reproducibility; Statistics; Research Data Cyberinfrastructure; MPS; Visualization; Systems Architecture; Human-Data Interface; Internet of Things; Modeling; GIS; Data Mining; Interoperability

Image credit: James Kurose, NSF

Another challenge science faces is the Big Data revolution, which is already upon us. The increased volume, variety, and velocity of data-capture present unique avenues to learning more about our world. Our vision for the future calls for bold approaches to data science and cyberinfrastructure.

By Harnessing the Data Revolution and building on our foundation of past investments, we believe the nation is well-positioned to utilize data for new discoveries and solutions.

For just one example, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, at which I participated in the "first stone laying" ceremony two years ago, will produce an unprecedented wide-field astronomical survey of our universe, from the inner solar system to the large scale structure of the universe.

It is designed to image the entire available sky every few nights. Astronomers are already using advanced computers to prepare for gathering and analyzing the estimated six petabytes of data that LSST will generate in one year.

Similarly, next-generation radars will sample at rates that are orders of magnitude higher than the data rates used by today's meteorological feature-identification algorithms. This will lead to highly-accurate real-time detection/prediction of meteorological features, and the assimilation of this data into high-fidelity simulations. That will translate into better building designs, less property damage and fewer lives lost.

Slide title: Navigating the new Arctic

Slide image: aerial photo of melting ice in the Arctic

Image credit: Roger Wakimoto, NSF

The warming Arctic and melting of sea ice and permafrost naturally raise environmental and human habitation concerns. This warming also opens up access to areas that were previously unreachable. We are limited in our understanding of the effects of the changes because of sparse sampling of the land and ocean.

In order to Navigate the New Arctic, NSF is building out a dense network of sensors across Alaska that would include new, cheaper technologies such as 3-D printed autonomous sensors in the ocean and atmosphere, allowing researchers to document changes in the Arctic land, sea and air.

NSF just awarded a five-year grant to set up a Long-Term Ecological Research site on the northern Alaska coast that will focus on Arctic coast ecosystems over different time scales, an example of our commitment to research that can inform evidenced-based policy.

Slide title: Work at the Human-technology Frontier Shaping the Future

Slide image: illustration of creative teams working on giant tablets and communicating digitally

Image credit: Jesus Sanz/

In an era of autonomous driving cars and stores that forgo check-out lines, one challenge that is attracting much attention is how new technologies like artificial intelligence are re-shaping how we learn, commute, work, play, and communicate.

Researching Work at the Human-Technology Frontier will help ensure that tomorrow's technologies are effective, efficient, adaptive, and human-centered.

Through our National Robotics Initiative in partnership with the Department of Defense, NASA, and other agencies, NSF has committed to a future where robots don't erase work, but make work better.

You have two recently funded NRI initiatives right here at Rice:

  • Marcia O'Malley has received a grant for "Guiding with touch - haptic cueing of surgical techniques on virtual and robotic platforms."
  • Lydia Kavraki has received funding for "Collaborative research - rethinking motion generation for robots operating in human workspaces."

Why does that concept bring to mind the HAL-9000 computer in the movie 2001? We really are moving into a "brave new world!"

Slide title: NSF INCLUDES

Slide image: U.S. map with photo montage of diverse people

Image credit: design by Trinka Kensill, NSF

I've touched lightly on six Big Research Ideas, but these are not all of NSF's Big Ideas. Four additional initiatives surfaced in our discussions, following an analysis of how our processes could be altered or enhanced to capture the best research and welcome new members of the science community.

None of these initiatives can reach their full potential without talented, well-prepared scientists and engineers at all levels, and we need all hands on deck in order to keep America at the forefront of research and development.

That means investing in people, opening up educational and career avenues for those who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields, which makes the workforce a stronger and better fit for the future. This Big Idea is called NSF INCLUDES. It builds on and amplifies NSF's current portfolio in broadening participation, because science is too wonderful for it to be exclusive, and too important to leave anyone out.

Slide title: Mid-scale Research Infrastructure

Slide image: photo of unfinished bridge

Image credit: ©

One NSF process consideration that most scientists may not be aware of is that in pursuing our mission to spur the advancement of science, NSF funds both large-scale and small-scale research projects.

In between those two funding categories, there are important, but largely neglected, opportunities that deserve new attention. NSF's Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure Idea will target this funding gap and consider promising proposals in the several million to $100 million range.

Slide title: NSF 2026

Slide image: illustration of individuals brainstorming

Image credit: ©

Further, we realize the need to offer more opportunity for new, transdisciplinary, highly promising research projects. In response, we would create "NSF 2026," selecting projects based on competitions conducted nationwide, with the public contributing to ideas on where the next research investments could be made.

Why 2026? It is our nation's "Sestercentennial," or 250th anniversary. How fitting that we should have a nationally-inspired goal to coincide with the ambitious yearnings of a new republic a quarter of a millennium ago.

Slide title: Growing Convergent Research at NSF

Slide image: illustration of converging circles

Image credit: ©iStock/enjoynz

And finally, wrapping up our Big Ideas is Convergence. We know that complex questions can require new approaches. Convergence implies interdisciplinary teams coming together intentionally, in novel ways, to strategize a research plan that fearlessly confronts challenges that know no disciplinary borders.

Just last week, NSF released a Dear Colleague Letter that focuses on Convergence and its two primary characteristics: One - the "deep integration across discipline [where] new frameworks, paradigms or disciplines can form from sustained interactions across multiple communities."

And Two - "research driven by a specific and compelling problem [that is] is generally inspired by the need to address a specific challenge or opportunity, whether it arises from deep scientific questions or pressing societal needs."

NSF sees Convergent Research as a powerful method to solve many vexing challenges, like the food-energy-water nexus, pandemics and infectious diseases, disaster preparedness and recovery. As House Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology Chairwoman Barbara Comstock said at a recent congressional hearing on NSF, "The best breakthroughs come when we break down the silos."

Slide title: Secret sauce: 360° partnerships

Slide image: graphic icons with words

  • National labs
  • Academia
  • Foundations
  • Industry
  • Scientific societies
  • International

Image credit: NSF

Taken together, these Ten Big Ideas represent a big vision for the future. We believe they will develop skills for tomorrow's workforce and grow new jobs. To do this requires new approaches - and new investment. Without new investments, how can we expect groundbreaking results?

And this is where we come back to a favorite theme of ours -- partnerships. Partnerships play a critical role in the science and engineering enterprise.

They are the "secret sauce" that helps leverage federal investments among government entities, academic institutions, NGOs, and industry. They can help leverage our federal investment, contribute unique aspects that NSF alone cannot, and widen the interest, widen the contributions, and widen the impact of NSF's investments.

Slide title: Gross domestic expenditures on R&D, by selected countries: 1981-2015

Slide image: line graph showing the trend of gross domestic expenditures on R&D by the United States, the EU and selected other countries: 1981-2015.
Selected years below (in current PPP $-billion):

  • 1981: United States 72.7; Japan 25.6; Germany 20.0; United Kingdom 12.0
  • 1997: United States 212.7; EU 150.8; Japan 87.8; Germany 43.2; France 28.5; United Kingdom 23.1; South Korea 16.3; China 14.7; Russia 8.8
  • 2005: United States 328.1; EU 230.2; Japan 128.7; China 85.7; Germany 64.3; France 39.2; South Korea 30.6; Russia 18.1
  • 2015: United States 502.9; China 408.8; EU 384.2; Japan 170.1; Germany 112.8; South Korea 74.2; France 60.9; United Kingdom 46.3; Russia 40.5

SOURCES: National Science Foundation, National Patterns of R&D Resources (annual series); Organisation for Economic Co-operation And Development, Main Science and Technology Indicators, (2016/2); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Institute for Statistics Data Centre, Centre/Pages/BrowseScience.aspx, accessed 10 February 2017.

I have painted a picture of optimism. What are the challenges? Here, in a few slides, is our national and global budgetary framework. The first slide shows the total R&D trend for the US and a number of other countries.

Though the U.S. remains at the forefront in the dollars it contributes to R&D, other nations are fast approaching in the rearview mirror, investing heavily in research, development and education as never before.

In 2015, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) that evaluates the math and science capabilities of 15 year olds internationally. The US ranked 38th out of 71 in math and 24th out of 71 in science.

And last month in Rome ministers of seven EU countries signed a declaration agreeing to work towards an "integrated supercomputing infrastructure," in short, exascale computers to support, among other things, the European Open Science Cloud.

Slide title: Total R&D spending by source of funds: 1975-2015

Slide image: graph showing amounts funded in Federal; Industry; Other nonprofit and Higher education with Industry overtaking Federal funding from 1975-2015
Selected years are listed below (in constant 2009 $-billions):

  • 1975 Federal R & D 59.10; Industry 50.46; Other nonprofit and Higher education 1.70
  • 1995 Industry R & D 147.19; Federal R & D 83.6; Other nonprofit and Higher education 5.21
  • 2015 Industry R & D 314.28; Federal R & D 103.05; Other nonprofit R & D 18.14; Higher education R & D 15.59

NOTES: Some data for 2014 are preliminary and may later be revised. The data for 2015 are estimates and will later be revised.
SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Patterns of R&D Resources (annual series).

This next slide shows that industry long ago overtook the federal government in funding total R&D. Most of that is "D."

Slide title: U.S. basic research spending by source of funds: 1975-2015

Slide image: left graph showing selected years below (in constant 2009 $-billions from 1975-2015):

  • 1975 Federal 10.89; Industry 2.24; Other nonprofit and Higher education 0.89
  • 2005 Federal 39.75; Industry 10.75; Higher education 7.07; Other nonprofit 6.7
  • 2015 Federal 34.74; Industry 22.30; Other nonprofit and Higher education 10.05

Right graph showing percentage of funding from 1975-2015:

  • 1975 Federal 70.06%; Industry 14.44%; Other nonprofit and Higher education 5.73%
  • 1995 Federal 57.38%; Industry 22.68%; Higher Education 8.48%education 12.73%

NOTES: Some data for 2014 are preliminary and may later be revised. The data for 2015 are estimates and will later be revised.
SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Patterns of R&D Resources (annual series).

The next slide shows the situation for basic research. The federal component has been flat for this decade, and now (as reported in Science magazine recently) provides less than 50% of the total basic research funding.

We cannot shy from our commitment to grow the economy, contribute to health and prosperity and the national defense. We are still a young country. We cannot slow our efforts to empower future generations to shape a brilliant future.

From this country's establishment, George Washington told Congress in his first State of the Union address that "there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science..."

That spirit extended through FDR's directive to Vannevar Bush to transition the Office of Scientific Research and Development into today's National Science Foundation. Bush's imagination saw frontiers of science and engineering that were ripe to be explored, if the nation used its celebrated vision, boldness, and drive - and above all, its people - to do so.

Thank you again for the opportunity to be with you today. This is an exciting -- and challenging -- time for science. It is a time to nurture a mutually supportive environment that will empower scientists and researchers, both as individuals and teams, to search for new knowledge and create the new tools needed for future discoveries.

For nearly seven decades, the National Science Foundation has empowered discoveries across a broad spectrum of scientific inquiry, and we never lose sight of our commitment to explore the unexplored. I am confident Rice University, the Baker Institute, and NSF will continue to be vibrant partners in that effort.

The entrepreneurial spirit is very much present in this room, and it is our goal to nurture it. I'd like to close with a short video that emphasizes NSF's impact and our promise.

Slide title: TEN BIG IDEAS
Realizing NSF's Vision for Future Research and Discovery

Slide words: Dr. France A. Córdova
Director, National Science Foundation

Harold Rorschach Lecture
Baker Institute | Houston, Texas
April 10, 2017

Slide image: conceptual illustration showing global interconnectivity

Image credit: ©