Dr. Neal Lane


NSF Graduate Minority Fellowships Panel

Washington, DC

February 12, 1997

Good evening everyone. It is truly a pleasure to be here. I attended the Graduate Research Fellowship Panel Reception in 1995, but was unable to join you at last year's reception. So I am delighted to have the opportunity to return and express my gratitude for the tremendous service you are providing--we know you do it for the money.

Of course, I'm kidding. I know that the only reward you seek is the knowledge that you are indeed helping to select the country's next generation of outstanding scientists and engineers, researchers, teachers, and science and technology professionals--our nation's future leaders.

At the National Science Foundation, we strive to perform that same service through the many programs we offer. We provide opportunities through Graduate Fellowships, Traineeships, and research assistantships as a means to producing the best scientists and engineers for the 21st century. We've also recently created a new program, Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) to broaden graduate training and make it more flexible. And of course, embedded in all these programs is our commitment to reaching the full richness and diversity of our population.

Graduate Research Fellowships are one of the standouts in this uniformly outstanding portfolio. The Fellowship Program has established an outstanding legacy, and it has helped to build a cadre of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers that has kept our nation at the forefront of new knowledge.

We all know the graduate fellowships serve a number of purposes. They promote the early professional development of scientists and engineers. They nurture and provide sustenance during the early career stages of young, talented individuals. Equally important is that these programs also provide opportunities for minority scientists and engineers to realize their full potential--through the Minority Graduate Research Fellowships.

The Minority Graduate Research Fellowships deserve special mention. They help assure that a diverse group of high-ability students succeed in our educational and research training systems. They can then become models and mentors for the next generation of students interested in these disciplines. Our mission is simply to leave no stone unturned in science and engineering. Our nation needs the most from its human resources.

Indeed, we need the talents of all our citizens if science, mathematics, and engineering are to remain a hallmark of America's excellence. We are a diverse nation, and this diversity has truly been one of our nation's strengths. We need to do what we can to insure that this remains the case and is better understood and appreciated by American society. I am certain that your expertise and judgment will play an important role in helping us move in that direction. We know you've delivered in the past, and we'll continue to rely on your expert judgment in years ahead.

In closing, I should add that I know this is not an easy job for any of you. The process is as competitive as any at NSF, so I greatly appreciate the time and direction you are devoting here this week. My own fellowship in 1962 was truly the first recognition I received as a professional in science and engineering. It remains one of my top career highlights.

Again, I want to thank you all for your dedication and effort. I would also like to thank the Oak Ridge Associated Universities for their help with running the competition. All of your assistance and efforts are greatly appreciated.

Thank you.