APPROVED MINUTES 1/
NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
The National Science Foundation
March 16, 2000
||Members Absent: |
|Eamon M. Kelly, Chairman
||Diana S. Natalicio, Vice Chair|
||Pamela A. Ferguson|
|John A. Armstrong
|Mary K. Gaillard
||Stanley V. Jaskolski|
|Sanford D. Greenberg
||Robert M. Solow|
|Anita K. Jones
||Bob H. Suzuki|
|George M. Langford
|Joseph A. Miller, Jr.
|Eve L. Menger
|Claudia I. Mitchell-Kernan
|Robert C. Richardson
|Vera S. Rubin
|Warren M. Washington
|John A. White, Jr.
|Rita R. Colwell, NSF Director
1 The minutes of the March 16 meeting were
approved by the Board at their 358th meeting, May 4, 2000.
The National Science Board (NSB) convened in Open Session
at 1:06 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, 2000, with Dr. Eamon M. Kelly, Chairman
of the NSB, presiding (Agenda NSB-00-55). In accordance with the Government
in the Sunshine Act, this portion of the meeting was open to the public.
Dr. Kelly began the meeting by congratulating the most
recent nominees to the NSB. The President announced his intention to
nominate Dr. Nina V. Federoff (The Pennsylvania State University), and
to renominate Dr. Diana Natalicio. In addition, the Senate Health, Education,
Labor, and Pensions Committee has approved the nominations of Dr. Michael
G. Rossmann (Purdue University) and Dr. Daniel Simberloff (University
of Tennessee-Knoxville). The latter two nominations await consideration
by the full Senate next week.
Dr. Kelly reported on the presentation to the Board the
previous evening by Dr. Ernest Moniz, Deputy Secretary of Energy, on
the openness of scientific communication.
AGENDA ITEM 6: Minutes, February 2000 Meeting
The Board APPROVED the Open Session minutes of the February
2000 meeting (NSB 00-39, Board Book Tab D).
AGENDA ITEM 7: Closed Session Items for May 2000
The Board APPROVED the Closed Session items for the May
2000 Board Meeting (NSB 00-10, Board Book Tab E).
AGENDA ITEM 8: Chairman's Report
a. Task Force on Polar Issues
Dr. Kelly announced that at the May meeting of the Board
the Task Force on Polar Issues, chaired by Dr. Warren Washington, will
be established as a standing subcommittee of the Committee on Programs
and Plans, recognizing the important and consistent role the task force
plays in this area.
The Chairman reported that recipients have been chosen
for the Year 2000 Alan T. Waterman Award, the Public Service Award,
and the Vannevar Bush Award. The awards will be announced publicly,
once the awardees have been notified, and presented at the Board's May
c. The May Meeting
Dr. Kelly alerted Board members to some annual business
that will be completed at the May meeting: elections for Chair, Vice
Chair, and two vacancies on the Executive Committee; and consideration
of a 2001 meeting calendar. Before the May meeting, Dr. Marta Cehelsky,
NSB Executive Officer, will send Board members background materials
and instructions on the nomination and election process.
AGENDA ITEM 9: Director's Report
a. Staff Introductions
Dr. Rita Colwell, NSF Director, introduced several recently
appointed NSF staff members: Dr. Norman Bradburn, Assistant Director
for the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences; Dr.
Lynda Carlson, Director of the Division of Science Resource Studies;
Dr. Richards Adrian, Director of the Division of Experimental and Integrative
Activities; Dr. Jarvis Moyers, Director of the Division of Atmospheric
Sciences; Dr. Herbert Zimmerman, Director of the Division of Earth Sciences;
Mr. Michael Sieverts, Acting Director of the Office of Legislative and
Public Affairs; Mr. Thomas Cooley, Acting Chief Financial Officer and
Acting Director of the Office of Budget, Finance, and Award Management;
and Dr. Margaret Cavanaugh, Staff Associate for the Environment in the
Office of the Director.
b. Congressional Update
The Director reported on several hearings before the House
Science Committee's Basic Research Subcommittee. Dr. Colwell and Dr.
Kelly testified on February 16, focusing on the research and related
activities and major research equipment portions of NSF's proposed budget
for FY 2001. Dr. Judith Sunley, Interim Assistant Director for the Directorate
for Education and Human Resources, testified for NSF at a second hearing
on February 29 devoted to the education and human resources portion
of that budget. Another hearing, presided over by Congressman Nick Smith,
took place in Lansing, Michigan, on February 28. Mr. Paul Herer, Staff
Associate in the Office of Integrative Activities, testified on behalf
of NSF at the field briefing on NSF's FY 2001 budget and the pending
reauthorization legislation. Other witnesses at that briefing included
officials from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University,
and Western Michigan University. Congressman Nick Smith presided. On
March 15, the House Science Committee held a third hearing on NSF's
FY 2001 budget. All hearings were very positive for NSF.
On March 1, Dr. Colwell testified before the Senate Commerce,
Science, and Transportation Committee at a hearing on the status of
the Next Generation Internet and Senate Bill 2046, to expand high-bandwidth
Internet connections. The hearing, which also included testimony by
the President's Science Advisor, Neal Lane, and other Administration
officials, was very productive. Dr. Colwell, Dr. Lane and Dr. Kelly
will testify at an initial hearing on April 4 on NSF's FY 2001 budget
request before the House Subcommittee on VA/HUD and Independent Agencies.
The committee is considering May 3 as a possible date for the full budget
hearing. Dr. Colwell noted that Members and their constituents appear
to recognize that the Nation's current economic expansion is directly
related to science and technology. Prominent members of the business
community have been helpful in communicating to Congress the importance
of federally funded university research to the economy, not only in
new discoveries but also in the education of young scientists, engineers,
and other participants in the workforce.
c. President's National Medal of Science and National
Medal of Technology
Dr. Colwell, Dr. Kelly, and NSF Deputy Director Joseph
Bordogna attended White House ceremonies on March 14 for the 1999 National
Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology awards. Among the
12 recipients of the science medal was Board member Robert Solow, recognized
for his analysis of the effects on economic growth of investment and
technological progress. The other science awardees were David Baltimore
(California Institute of Technology); Jared Diamond (UCLA School of
Medicine); Lynn Margulis (University of Massachusetts); Stuart Rice
(University of Chicago); John Ross (Stanford University); Susan Solomon
(NOAA); Kenneth Stevens (MIT); Ronald Coifman (Yale University); James
Kronin (University of Chicago): and Leo Kadanoff (University of Chicago).
The technology awardees were Glen Culler (Santa Barbara, California);
Raymond Kurtzweil (Kurtzweil Technologies, Inc.); Robert Taylor (Woodside,
California); Symbol Technologies (New York); and a posthumous award
to Robert Swanson (K&E Management).
AGENDA ITEM 10: Survey of Doctoral Programs in the Sciences
The Director introduced Dr. Geoffrey Davis, a researcher
with Microsoft Corporation and a former member of the Mathematics Department
at Dartmouth College. Dr. Davis presented the results of an informal
online survey he and Dr. Peter Fiske of Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory conducted on graduate science students' experience with their
doctoral programs. The survey ran online for 10 weeks in 1999 and allowed
doctoral students to respond to questions about such things as mentoring,
career guidance, and overall satisfaction.
Dr. Davis noted recent reports critical of doctoral education
in science and engineering, most notably the 1995 report from the National
Academy of Science's Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy
(COSEPUP), that stimulated the survey. The survey sought to determine
the extent to which the "best practices" recommended in these reports
were being implemented nationwide and to achieve three goals: 1) to
stimulate a discussion on graduate education; 2) to prompt institutions
to make sure their own practices were strong; and 3) to catalyze implementation
of best practices in departments that have not yet implemented them.
The Sloan Foundation will fund a second year of the survey, which the
researchers hope to make annual. The 2000 survey will include not just
the sciences and engineering, but also the humanities, social sciences,
and Canadian universities. Davis said that as the survey matures, it
will help prospective students make more informed enrollment choices;
help departments, funding agencies, and policymakers better understand
the current state of science and engineering education; and increase
transparency in the overall graduate education process.
There were about 6500 responses from a broad section of
the student population in 264 institutions. Results suggest that, while
generally happy with their advisors and education, students thought
they needed better pre-enrollment information; better training as teaching
assistants; better preparation for employment outside of academia; and
a better environment for women and minority students. These and other
study results, said Dr. Davis, show that improvements must be made to
student decision-making throughout the process of education. This will
require that better information be made available to students in the
form of: 1) standards for best practices in graduate education; 2) funding
to departments for gathering or acquiring outcome data via expanded
versions of the Survey of Earned Doctorates and the Survey of Doctorate
Recipients; and fund the creation of better information and career choices
online. Dr. Davis noted that the survey results will be made public,
and that future surveys would include social sciences.
AGENDA ITEM 11: Committee Reports
a. Audit and Oversight Committee (A&O)
Dr. Eve Menger reported for the Committee in the absence
of the Chairman, Dr. Stanley Jaskolski The members were introduced to
the new Inspector General, Dr. Christine Boesz, and heard a report from
Dr. Lorretta Hopkins, Staff Associate in the Office of Integrative Activities,
on the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). The committee
also received a status report on the FY 1999 financial statement and
audit, and the Information Systems Controls audit from Mr. Don McCrory,
Acting Chief Financial Officer, Ms. Debbie Cureton, Assistant Inspector
General for Audits, and Mr. Fred Wendling, Director of the Division
of Information Services. OMB found no material weakness in the FY 1999
NSF audit. Planning for the 2000 audit is underway. The committee held
some preliminary discussion of its revised charter; fuller discussion
will take place by email with a final recommendation coming to the Board
by the May meeting.
In the supervisory session, Ms. Cureton discussed the
results of an external quality review of the Office of the Inspector
General (OIG) audit organization. The review concluded that NSF conducts
its audits in compliance with the Government Audit Standards. Dr. Peggy
Fisher, Acting Deputy Inspector General, reported on the OIG's outreach
efforts, which was favorably received by the committee. Finally, Dr.
Boesz discussed her development of a strategic plan for her office.
b. Committee on Programs and Plans (CCP)
Dr. John Armstrong, Chairman, reviewed three actions recommended
to the Board for approval. The committee then considered the best way
to follow up on the Board's report on the environment (NSB 00-22). The
committee has asked NSF senior management, in particular Dr. Leinen,
to report once a year to the full Board on progress made toward the
implementation of the report's recommendations, with an update every
second meeting of the committee. Dr. Leinen will make the first report
to the full Board at the May meeting.
Most of the session was devoted to an ongoing conversation
with the senior management on NSF's facilities, infrastructure, and
major research equipment in relation to the Foundation's new strategic
plan. This discussion will be continued at the Board's May meeting.
Finally, with one revision reflecting concern over issues of interest
to more than one standing committee, the CPP committee expressed approval
of the revised charge.
Task Force on Polar Issues
Dr. Warren Washington reported that the task force heard
an overview of the Office of Polar Programs' budget and was briefed
on various logistics and science support plans affecting programs in
the Arctic and Antarctic. The committee was also updated on a number
of science projects underway at the Poles, including the development
of a new workshop to improve weather forecasting and operations in the
Antarctic region. Finally, the task force briefly discussed the Arctic
Climate Impact Assessment activities.
c. Committee on Education and Human Resources (EHR)
Dr. Robert Richardson reported for the committee in the
absence of Chairman, Dr. Bob Suzuki and Acting Chairman, Dr. Richard
Tapia. The committee reviewed some of the informal education activities
of EHR, including museum exhibitions and mass media projects, and suggested
that NSF draw more attention to the supplementary grants that principal
investigators can get to communicate their research results to the public.
The committee also heard from a representative of the Smithsonian Institution,
which is an important partner with NSF in many exhibitions, and who
noted the need to reach out to the Asian and Pacific Island populations.
The committee heard a report on the framework for the
EHR Directorate's decision making from Dr. Sunley. Committee members
were impressed by how much is expected in this area from NSF on a small
budget. Finally, the committee decided to focus most of its attention
in the coming year on K-12 education activities. In discussion of the
revised charge, members felt strongly that it should be possible for
members to serve concurrently on two of the three standing committees,
and suggested consideration of greater reliance by task forces and subcommittees
on teleconferencing. Dr. Richardson reported that Dr. Lynda Carlson,
the new Director of the Division of Science Resources Studies, met the
Responding to the Committee's suggestion on expanding
participation in standing committees to more members, Dr. Kelly noted
that as a way to enable members to attend more than one committee meeting
the timing of the various committee meetings had been restructured to
the extent possible within the current Board meeting structure. Other
options will be considered in the future.
Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators (S&EI)
Dr. Mitchell-Kernan reported that the subcommittee was
introduced to Dr. Norman Bradburn, the new Assistant Director for Social
and Behavioral Sciences, and Dr. Lynda Carlson. Dr. Carlson reported
that the Board should receive the two-volume Science and Engineering
Indicators report (and an accompanying CD) at the May meeting.
Dr. Carlson requested that the subcommittee consider having
a substantive discussion at the May meeting on putting the S&EI back
on its January completion and release schedule. She also presented samples
of "data cards" that could serve as models for highlighting specific
S&EI data, and asked the subcommittee for suggestions on topics
that should be included on the cards. Dr. Carlson agreed to provide
samples to the subcommittee at the May meeting.
Dr. Daryl Chubin, Senior Policy Officer of the NSB, led
a discussion on the draft companion piece for S&EI 2000. The
subcommittee recommended and approved a resolution calling for the Board
to accept the companion piece, with final editorial changes to be made
by Dr. Mitchell-Kernan in response to comments from the Board.
Dr. Gaillard noted that the companion piece included a
section on "Glimpsing 21st Century S&T." The section discusses biotechnology,
information technology, and nanotechnology -NSF initiatives that depend
on scientific discoveries made in the more distant past. Dr. Gaillard
urged that more mention be made of the fact that some of them grew unexpectedly
out of research directed toward something very different. Dr. Mitchell-Kernan
agreed this was important. Dr. Kelly encouraged Board members to provide
Dr. Mitchell-Kernan with their comments by email. Board members were
given until the following week to forward their suggestions, comments,
and corrections. The Board then unanimously approved the recommendation
of the subcommittee to accept the companion piece to S&E Indicators
2000, and authorized Dr. Mitchell-Kernan to make any final editorial
Dr. Mitchell-Kernan reported that Dr. David Stonner, head
of Congressional Affairs for NSF's Office of Legislative and Public
Affairs, provided the subcommittee with an update on the status of the
S&EI report. Consistent with the NSB recommendation in November,
a discussion was held with the House Science Committee staff on drafting
legislation to reinstitute the statutory requirement for S&EI. Dr. Stonner
noted the legislation would most likely be attached to some relevant
House bill. The Senate could pass the legislation but probably not soon,
given its low priority. The subcommittee expressed its disappointment
and urged OLPA staff to continue pursuing reinstatement of this mandate.
Dr. Colwell assured Dr. Mitchell-Kernan that staff would continue pressing
Dr. Mitchell-Kernan noted that the S&EI has been
getting longer over the years, and that there is a need to reassess
what should be included on a biennial basis. Dr. Anita Jones suggested
that the S&EI subcommittee consider research on transforming S&EI
into a hyperlinked structure rather than a sequential document. Dr.
Mitchell-Kernan expressed gratitude to everyone involved in the S&EI
report, especially Ms. Jennifer Bond of the SRS staff, who directed
d. Task Force on the NSB's 50th Anniversary
Dr. Rubin reported that the task force considered the
following items. First was a report from Ms. Susan Chase-Mason on the
Jumpstart 2000 competition, an elementary/middle school/ senior high
science competition in collaboration with Parade magazine and REACT.
The winners will be announced soon. Ms. Chase-Mason also described activities
associated with the NSF 50th celebration, including a document on historical
accomplishments this spring, a bimonthly 2-page spread beginning in
June in Discover Magazine discussing S&E topics, and a Saturday
morning 90-second children's program, "Find Out Why" on the Disney Channel
beginning in September. Dr. Rubin noted that Dow Chemical Science Service,
Dartmouth, will release a White Paper on the future of science and technology
to be the subject of a roundtable discussion with the media and Congress.
There will be a birthday party at NSF on May 10 and in June a picnic
for current and former NSF employees.
The task force discussed the external review process for
the National Science Board's 50th anniversary commemorative brochure
and heard an update on the December 2000 celebratory event. The committee
discussed a variety of options, including special awards to individuals
long associated with NSF. Board members will be contacted in the next
week and asked for recommendations of persons qualified to receive such
e. Task Force on International Issues in Science and
Reporting for Dr. Natalicio, Dr. Gaillard said that the
task force met Dr. Alan Rapoport, the new Executive Secretary, and thanked
the previous Executive Secretary, Ms. Francis Li, for her outstanding
work. Two guests made presentations: Former White House Science Adviser
Dr. Jack Gibbons, now a Special Adviser to the State Department (DOS),
discussed steps that it was taking to reverse a decline in science and
technical expertise in the department over the last decade. Dr. Gibbons
discussed the DOS response to recommendations in a recently issued report
from the National Research Council, prepared at the request of Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright. Dr. Gibbons expressed optimism about Department
changes while conceding that changes were likely to occur slowly. Dr.
Gibbons said that scientists and engineers should find ways to spend
time at the State Department and help identify scientific and technological
developments of potential importance to foreign policy. Task force members
also discussed how NSF might help DOS modernize its information technology
systems and how it could interact with other organizations, such as
the Agency for International Development, in order to encourage greater
The second guest speaker was Dr. Colwell, who discussed
how NSF is increasing its global activities across all directorates
and often acting as the lead agency in international scientific endeavors.
Next, Dr. Cehelsky presented a brief review of the task force's activities
to date. Finally, the task force discussed next steps, including identification
of key issues, themes, and recommendations both from the literature
and from hearings, and preparation of a report. A revised version of
the report will be distributed to the task force and discussed in an
upcoming conference call.
Dr. Kelly encouraged the task force to aim for a Board-approved
draft for distribution at the December meeting.
f. Committee on Communication and Outreach (C&O)
Dr. George Langford reported in the absence of committee
chair M.R.C. Greenwood. He stated that the committee was on schedule
to deliver a final report to the Board in May on effective strategies
to raise public awareness of the importance of science and engineering,
especially among policymakers. Toward that end, the committee discussed
the NSB Symposium on Communicating Science and Technology in the Public
Interest, held in February. The Committee was pleased with the symposium
and plans to incorporate into its final report the recommendations that
were made by speakers. Also reflected in the final report will be the
strong consensus on key issues that came to light in response to the
survey Dr. Greenwood distributed to Board members after the symposium.
The committee meeting focused on three broad recommendations:
1) to encourage the creation of a broad-based advocacy group in collaboration
with Research!America, run by Dr. Mary Woolley. Dr. Langford said that
Dr. Mary Good, Managing Partner, Venture Capitol Investments, Incorporated,
of Little Rock, Arkansas, is already active in putting together such
a group, which the American Chemical Society has agreed to host; 2)
to expand existing NSF programs that focus on communication research
and information dissemination. A staff member from the Division of Social,
Behavioral, and Economic Sciences briefed the committee on the kinds
of research currently supported in this field. Since a fair amount is
already underway, the committee feels that NSF's role should be to leverage
its investment by boosting support of successful projects. In addition,
there should be more research on best practices in the communication
of science and engineering. A matrix should be developed for assessing
the effectiveness of communications activities; and 3) to work closely
with the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs to develop background
materials, such as briefing materials and talking points on key issues,
to be used for discussions between Board members and Congressional members
Dr. Langford expressed the committee's appreciation for
the input received from the NSF staff. Finally, the committee urged
the Board to think of ways to encourage greater public participation
in the future, including the earlier release of a draft agenda. Dr.
Langford promised to try to formulate suggestions on what to do about
In response to questions from members, Dr. Langford explained
that the advocacy would be NSF related only insofar as encouraging its
creation; the formation of the group would be independent of NSF and
would encompass the physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering.
He agreed that there is a parallel need for greater attention to the
non-medical life sciences and the social sciences. He noted the suggestion
that the Committee report be posted on the Webpage for comment.
g. Ad Hoc Committee for NSB Nominations for the class
Dr. Jones announced that the committee will begin meeting
in May and she encouraged Board members to start thinking about nominees.
h. Committee on Strategic Science and Engineering Policy Issues (SPI)
Dr. Kelly reported that the committee heard presentations from two speakers.
The first was Dr. Chuck Larson, president of the Industrial Research
Institute. Dr. Larson discussed priority setting in industry and the
roles of industry and the Federal government in U.S. research and development.
The second speaker, Dr. Jim Duderstadt of the Committee on Science and
Engineering and Public Policy of the National Research Council (COSEPUP)
discussed his committee's work on the Federal budget and on bench-marking
for fields of research. He urged the Board to undertake a leadership
role in this regard.
AGENDA ITEM 12: Interim Report, Committee on Strategic
S&E Policy Issues
The SPI committee discussed its draft interim report to
the Board. The committee will deliver a first draft to the Board in
May, after which the report will be revised for consideration by the
Board at the August meeting. This schedule allows for workshops and
other related meetings in the fall prior to a final report in December
and for the completion of the report prior to the installation of the
new Administration in January of 2001. Committee members agreed with
Dr. Duderstadt's call for the Board to lead on this issue, and also
discussed participation of appropriate stakeholders in discussions of
the findings and recommendations of the report. The committee asked
NSF staff to prepare a timeline, budget, and list of resources required
to support its activities through December, and a chart of focus areas
and possible organizations and individuals to participate in stakeholder
AGENDA ITEM 13: Program Approvals, Education & Human Resources
Dr. Richardson asked the Board to approve three new programs
in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources. Upon this recommendation
the Board voted as follows
NSF Graduate Teaching Fellows Program (NSB-00-61):
The meeting was recessed briefly until 3 p.m.
The National Science Board APPROVED the movement of the NSF Graduate
Teaching Fellows in K-12 education (GK - 12) program to the status
of a continuing program; and, subject to the availability of funds,
authorized the Director to take final action on grants, contracts,
and other arrangements except when such actions require Board approval
under existing policy guidelines.
Interagency Education Research Initiative (NSB-00-62):
The National Science Board APPROVED the movement of the Inter-agency
Education Research Initiative (IERI) to the status of a continuing
program; and, subject to the availability of funds, authorized the
Director to take final action on grants, contracts, and other arrangements
except when such actions require Board approval under existing policy
National Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Digital Library
The National Science Board APPROVED the National Science, Mathematics,
Engineering and Technology Education Digital Library (NSDL) as a continuing
program of the NSF Directorate for Education and Human Resources;
and, subject to the availability of funds, authorized the Director
to take final action on grants, contracts, and other arrangements
except when such actions require Board approval under existing policy
AGENDA ITEM 14: Budget and Long-Range Planning
The Chairman called on the NSF Director to lead the discussion
on the NSF Budget and Long-Range Planning. Dr. Colwell explained that
the session would first address current thinking and plans, so as to
encourage the Board's comments early in the process. Other presentations
would look to the future. Dr. Colwell reminded the Board of the timeline
for the FY 2002 planning cycle. At the current session, the Board hears
about issues under consideration and offers its guidance in establishing
priorities. That leads to a set of issues to be developed for full consideration
by the Board at the May meeting. Finally, in June the Executive Committee
focuses on the FY 2002 budget that goes to the Office of Management
and Budget (OMB). NSF will incorporate discussions from the May and
June meetings into the budget and ask for detailed information from
the program offices. At the August meeting, the Board will discuss budget
development and key directions, which will be incorporated in the final
round of budget calls to NSF staff. NSF usually submits the budget request
to OMB in September, but OMB is considering asking that 2002 budget
submissions be postponed until after the new Administration is in place.
Dr. Colwell said that senior managers are very pleased
with the 2001 budget, which provides for a historic $675 million increase.
While this is an important and very welcome development, Dr. Colwell
said that the long-term erosion of the Nation's basic research investment
will probably take several more years to fix. Momentum is important,
she said; it is critical that all elements of the education and research
community come out strongly in support of the NSF budget.
Dr. Colwell noted that total national R&D funding-about
$250 billion-has never been higher. However, the Federal share is down
to only 27 percent of all R&D funds in 1999, the lowest level since
NSF began collecting data. Ten years ago, the Federal share was 46 percent;
thirty years ago, it was 60 percent. The mix of sciences receiving Federal
support is also changing. In 1970, the life sciences accounted for 29
percent of the Federal spending; by 1997, they had reached 43 percent,
significantly outpacing spending in the physical sciences and engineering.
While Federal R&D spending share has waned, industry has become increasingly
dependent on academic research and other publicly supported frontier
research. There is a strong and growing linkage between U.S. patents
and peer-reviewed research published in journals, as noted in the Board's
recent report, Industry Trends and Research Support: Links to Public
Dr. Colwell called attention to NSF's growing leadership
role in research and education. NSF has been designated the interagency
leader of important initiatives concerning information technology and
nanotechnology. Also, excluding biomedical research, NSF's role in supporting
basic research at academic institutions has jumped from 43 percent in
1990 to 53 percent in 1999. This means that NSF is becoming the government's
main investor for non-medical basic research.
Dr. Colwell suggested that, to fulfill its role as the
government's investor for non-medical research, NSF's budget should
be in the range of $12 to $14 billion. She argued that NSF will need
an increase of $5.1 billion merely to bring the average size and duration
of NSF grants up to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) standard.
And that doesn't include funds to grow the number of grants under current
or new programs.
Dr. Colwell outlined four investment strategies to be
discussed in more detail by staff: 1) support for competitive investigator-initiated
research along the frontiers of science and engineering, 2) identify
and support unmet opportunities that strengthen and cross-fertilize
the S&E disciplines and that promise significant payoffs for the Nation,
for example mathematics and the social, behavioral and economic sciences,
3) emphasize areas of emerging opportunities that enable research in
education across science and engineering and 4) broaden participation
and enhance diversity throughout the research portfolio. She emphasized
that these four investment strategies are not separate but rather co-equal,
interwoven strategies that support each other in important ways.
b. Non-Initiative Research
Dr. Mary Clutter, Assistant Director, Biological Sciences,
led the discussion of NSF's first investment strategy, support for competitive
investigator-initiated research along the frontiers of science and engineering.
She noted that NSF has long supported the core disciplines. She offered
some examples of unexpected payoffs, including the soon-to-be completed
first genetic map of a plant (Arabidopsis). Turning to the FY
2001 budget request of $4.57 billion, Dr. Clutter pointed out that most
of it will go toward support of the core disciplines. Of this "non-initiative"
research funding, $1.44 billion is available for completely new activities.
In addition to the increase in funding, NSF would like to increase the
awards' size (similar to NIH's standard grant of $283,000) and duration
(from three to five years), as well as the funding success rate. Currently
only about a quarter of all proposed projects are funded, although program
officers estimate that at least half are worthy. NSF's goal is to increase
the success rate to 35 percent.
To achieve these goals across all the disciplines, however,
would require a budget at least twice that of FY 2001. At current funding
levels, increasing the size of the median award of $78,000 a year by
10 percent to $86,000 would mean that NSF would have to make 800 fewer
grants, reducing the success rate. Four years after increasing the duration
of the average grant by one year (from three to four years), NSF would
need a budget increase of more than 30 percent. Finally, increasing
the success rate would necessitate decreasing the median award size.
All of that, said Dr. Clutter, would be spreading the new money too
thin and would fail to reach the desired results. She explained that
with the increased budget, program officers would be asked to enhance
investments selectively in areas of opportunity.
c. Unmet Opportunities
Dr. Karl Erb, Director, Office of Polar Programs (OPP)
noted that unmet opportunities are those for which the ideas, people,
and infrastructure are essentially already in place which require funding
to make the extra push toward results. Dr. Robert Eisenstein, Assistant
Director, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, discussed one of the areas
of unmet needs, mathematics, which plays an important role in three
NSF initiatives: information technology, biocomplexity and the environment,
and the 21st century workforce. Dr. Eisenstein concluded his remarks
by noting that mathematics has long been underfunded in the U.S., especially
compared to the emphasis given to mathematics in other countries. Increasing
the funding for mathematical sciences is the first priority of the Division
of Mathematical Sciences (DMS), which is slated for a 22.5 percent increase
in FY 2001, with the longer-term goal of doubling the DMS budget over
Additional funding would be allocated to increase grant
sizes, grant duration, student support, and mathematics related to other
disciplines. Achieving this goal will require an extensively coordinated
effort across NSF, which is already underway. In response to a question
Dr. Eisenstein reported that the mathematics budget is $105 million,
the smallest in MPS. The mathematics budget will grow by $24 million
to about $130 million, a rise of 22 percent while the average increase
in MPS as a whole is 16.3 percent. Dr. Eisenstein agreed that this is
a relatively modest emphasis on mathematics compared to the total MPS
Dr. Bradburn, Assistant Director for the Social, Behavioral
and Economic Sciences (SBE), began his discussion of unmet opportunities
by describing his vision for the directorate. He noted that the social
and behavioral sciences are severely underfunded. Progress in the social
and behavioral sciences draws heavily on mathematics, and Bradburn therefore
supports the mathematics thrust in the FY 2001 budget.
Referring to the social, behavioral, and economic sciences
as the human sciences, Dr. Bradburn noted a number of areas with enormous
implications for the Nation. For example, research on the rules of language
and speech have applications in computerized speech recognition. A major
initiative supporting work in the human sciences will repay the investment
many times over. He will aim to double the SBE budget in three years
starting with the development of a strategic plan over the next few
months with the assistance of a planning team of senior social scientists
and others from the academic, government, and private sectors.
d. Current Initiatives
Information Technology Research: Dr. Ruzena Bajcsy,
AD, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, described some
of the most exciting areas of information technology research (ITR)
and reported that NSF's recently launched Information Technology Initiative
received a tremendous number of excellent first-round pre-proposals.
Only 10 to 12 percent of these may be funded. In an effort to extend
resources, NSF is working with other agencies such as NIH to share funding
of certain proposals. Many requests come in for funding in support of
infrastructure needs. Dr. Bajcsy asked for the Board's help in thinking
about what "infrastructure" should mean in the context of distributed
systems. For example, NSF has supported network infrastructure; should
the agency also support the development of large-scale data repositories?
The FY 2001 budget provides a $225 million increase for
ITR, $100 million of which is for basic IT research, $80 million for
IT applications, and $45 million for a second terascale computing system.
In conclusion, Dr. Bajcsy said that she and others at NSF are working
hard to coordinate cross-directorate management of ITR projects.
Responding to questions from Dr. Armstrong on the difficulty
of finding enough qualified reviewers with no conflicts of interest
to review the large number of proposals and proposal success rate, Dr.
Bajcsy explained that the number of potential proposal writers was constrained
by limiting the number of times a person could be listed as a principal
investigator to three and by permitting only research faculty to apply.
Staff then compiled a database of potential reviewers who did not submit
proposals, including computer and computational scientists from industry,
laboratories, and research institutions, and from outside the U.S. Mr.
Lawrence Rudolph, NSF General Counsel, explained that proposals could
be separated by size and reviewers who had submitted small proposals
could review the large proposals, and vice versa, without being in conflict.
Wth regard to the success rate for proposals, Dr. Bajcsy estimated that
for the large proposals, the success rate would be around three percent
of the 950 initial submissions. Awards are targeted for mid September.
Dr. Jones noted the need to position NSF as the leader
in ITR and asked whether there was a guideline that makes it clear to
applicants that progress will be made not just in new applications but
in the way information technology is employed. Dr. Bajcsy and Dr. Colwell
assured Dr. Jones that this was the case.
Nanotechnology: Dr. Eugene Wong, Assistant Director
for Engineering, reported on the status of the nanotechnology initiative,
which is the culmination of a four-year effort among six Federal agencies,
including NSF, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy,
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institutes
of Health, and National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST).
While NSF's mission is one of fundamental research, Dr. Wong called
attention to how quickly fundamental investigations are already leading
to important commercial applications. The budget for this initiative
in FY 2001 is a total of $495 million among the six agencies, an amount
he described as fairly modest. For NSF, the budget is $217 million,
of which about $120 million represents an increase from FY 2000. Dr.
Wong emphasized that only about $70 million of that increase is new
money. The rest is spread among existing programs across many NSF directorates.
He noted that EHR and SBE will have roles in specific programs within
Dr. Wong cited the initiative's principal areas of research,
primarily biotechnology but also nanostructure by design, devices, nanoscale
processes, modeling and simulation, and education and the social impact
of nanotechnology. In conclusion, Dr. Wong noted that for the first
year of the initiative there will be a single announcement encompassing
several different modes of funding support. A large part will be for
individuals and small groups, but proposals will also be also encouraged
in response to "grand challenges" or preset goals achievable by concerted
Biocomplexity and the Environment: Dr. Leinen,
Assistant Director for Geosciences (GEO), discussed the initiative for
biocomplexity and the environment. She placed her status report in the
context of NSF's entire environmental portfolio and GEO's initial response
to the NSB environment report (NSB 00-22). That report focused on three
areas relevant to the biocomplexity initiative: NSF's organization and
management of this very broad, cross-disciplinary, cross-directorate
activity; the resources that would be necessary; and the setting of
priorities. One step taken so far has been the establishment of a high-visibility,
NSF-wide organizational focus. This was accomplished with two new appointments:
Dr. Leinen herself who was charged with responsibility for managing
the entire cross-NSF environmental portfolio, and Dr. Margaret Cavanaugh
as special staff associate for the environment in the NSF Office of
the Director. A second step has been to work with the NSF Working Group
on Biocomplexity and the Environment. Initially tasked with guidance
on the biocomplexity initiative, the group now has added responsibility
for advice on the entire environmental portfolio. Dr. Leinen reported
also that steps had been taken to establish a formal Federal Advisory
Committee for Environmental Research.
Resources have improved as well, said Dr. Leinen. In FY
1999, $12 million was spent on a Biocomplexity in the Environment competition.
In FY 2000, that competition is funded at $50 million and next year
a multicomponent $136 million competition is being proposed. On the
core disciplines side, FY 1999 saw $600 million spent on programs across
NSF that are inherently environmental in nature. In FY 2000, there was
a modest increase to $609 million. But proposed for FY 2001 is $800
million, a 30 percent increase. Some of the themes emphasized by program
officers and directorates for core support include genomics; ocean observatories;
bio/geo/chemical cycles; knowledge management (data and information
management), and environmental education.
Dr. Leinen reported that the biocomplexity in the environment
initiative includes three thematic areas: microscale systems, including
genomics, molecular level studies, and geo/microbiology; ecosystems,
including interactions among human, biological, geological, and physical
systems; and finally, planetary systems such as the water and carbon
cycles. The latter also includes new initiatives in the deep biosphere
and in bio/geo/chemical dynamics.
Dr. Leinen said her staff is in the process of defining
priorities for the biocomplexity initiative and for the environmental
portfolio. Doing so has raised important issues, such as how to review
responsibly complicated, multidisciplinary proposals. To address that
challenge, Dr. Leinen's staff is reviewing best practices within NSF
as well as at sister agencies with large, multidisciplinary programs.
Another step toward setting priorities will be to take a multi-year
perspective on activities and to identify opportunities in broad, interdisciplinary
areas outside of the biocomplexity initiative itself. Dr. Leinen concluded
by noting collaborations underway with Federal partners, such as developing
quantitative mathematical models of cell function in conjunction with
the Department of Energy.
21st Century Workforce: Dr. Judith Sunley, Interim
Assistant Director, EHR, discussed the 21st century workforce initiative.
The initiative's areas of emphasis include idea-oriented activities,
such as research into the science of learning. People-oriented activities
are aimed at particular issues, such as enhancing science, math, engineering,
and technology education performance and getting a broader base of participation
in the science and engineering workforce. Finally, there are tools activities,
such as the National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology
Education Digital Library project. Some strategic issues include the
need to develop a critical mass of research in the science of learning;
to enhance the connections between K-12 education and higher education;
to improve teaching at all levels, consistent with the Department of
Education's Glenn Commission on Math and Science Teaching for the 21st
Century; to address certain key immediate workforce needs, such as the
lack of a sufficiently skilled technical workforce in the U.S.; to work
in concert with the other three initiatives described today; and to
broaden the participation of underrepresented groups in science and
Concerning the latter, Dr. Sunley noted three key ideas
brought forth in NSF's Strategic Plan: embed diversity in all activities;
develop targeted programs as needed; and continue to identify barriers
to participation as well as possible solutions. NSF's approach to diversity
changes depending on the population addressed, from K-12 through postdoctoral.
Broadening Participation: Dr. Nathaniel Pitts,
Director, Office of Integrative Activities (OIA), addressed broadening
institutional participation in NSF programs. He urged NSF to focus on
three issues: how Congress and NSF have been interacting recently on
this question; NSF's rich history on the topic; and Innovation Partnerships:
Dr. Pitts discussed NSF's response to a 1999 Congressional
request to study and report on mechanisms that would increase funding
for Doctoral I and Doctoral II institutions, using the Carnegie Classification
system, which number about 111. NSF has committed to four mechanisms:
1) expanding NSF's existing knowledge and programs; 2) undertaking an
extensive and aggressive outreach effort; 3) developing an organizational
framework for Innovation Partnerships; and 4) establishing an office,
including EPSCoR (the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive
Research), that would answer directly to the Director. In its 2000 report,
Congress provided NSF with $10 million (later reduced to $8.5 million)
to establish an Office of Innovation Partnerships within EHR. The current
budget submission for FY 2001 includes a placeholder, but no money,
for this activity.
In working toward a vision for the Innovation Partnerships
project, critical issues include strengthening the capabilities and
competitiveness of institutions, groups, and regions; enabling the movement
of knowledge and people in the private sector; and boosting regional
capacity in education, technology, and local economic development. Underlying
the vision are two basic tenets: 1) innovation occurs on a local basis,
strengthened by the connectivity of the Internet, requiring partnerships
with state and local government, a variety of schools and industrial
partners; and 2) innovation depends on new knowledge and therefore on
institutions that educate the knowledge workforce.
Administration and Management
Dr. Colwell noted that the proposed 2001 budget is nearly
14 percent higher than it was for FY 2000. To support the efforts described
today it is essential that NSF as a whole function smoothly in the years
go come. One of the improvements underway is a team of staff members
dedicated to making sure that FastLane works well; another task will
be to make sure that computer networking throughout NSF is optimum.
Dr. Jones suggested that NSF would increase its chance
of increasing grant size and duration among mathematicians by identifying
at a relatively young age those with the most promise of making significant
contributions, given that most mathematics accomplishments in the U.S.
can be traced to a few stellar individuals. Dr. Menger agreed with the
comment by Dr. Jones and suggested that it could be a very powerful
argument for Congress. It might be beneficial, for example, if such
steller researchers could spend less time preparing proposals. She further
requested more data on the effects of inflation on NSF grants that might
be used to support an argument for increasing grant size on the basis
of sustaining the buying power of grants, rather than reaching the size
of NIH grants. Dr. Richardson agreed that efficiency was an issue when
1,000 researchers, many of them highly qualified, apply for grants that
only two percent receive.
Dr. Rubin observed that NSF's diversity programs do not
seem to be having the desired impact and wondered whether there wasn't
something more NSF should be doing. She argued that graduate students
were continuing to be discouraged by faculty from pursuing science or
engineering paths. Faculty are responsible for creating an unwelcoming
environment for a diverse student body and until programs take that
into account, the problem will persist. NSF should use its leverage
as a major supporter of science faculty to make a change.
Dr. Colwell responded that the budget for the Integrative
Graduate Education and Research Training Program (IGERT) had been increased
from $34 million to about $54 million, that more programs were being
introduced that enable researchers to pull undergraduate students onto
their research grants, and that NSF is insisting that centers have a
connection with minority students. She further pointed to programs that
place graduate science students in K-12 classrooms, efforts at better
enforcement of merit review criterion 2, and the establishment of centers
for teaching and learning. These centers will bring together representatives
from industry, academia, and the community with the same commitment
that exists in the Engineering Research Centers. Improving diversity
in science and engineering will also be a focus of an upcoming retreat
of senior staff. The goal is to make this the responsibility not just
of EHR, but of the entire agency.
Dr. Langford noted that the number of women and minorities
majoring in science at the undergraduate level is going up, even while
the number at the graduate level is dropping, and it is at the graduate
level that NSF has the most leverage. Dr. Langford complimented Dr.
Sunley on EHR's research into the barriers that confront women, minorities,
and persons with disabilities, and also suggested that it would help
to increase the number of diverse students on training grants. Dr. Sunley
agreed that NSF has not taken a strategic enough approach to graduate
education with regard to diversity. However, she pointed to the IGERT
program as a model for how to embed diversity in every NSF activity.
Science and Technology Centers or in the Engineering Research Centers
are another area where this issue can be addressed.
Dr. Menger recommended that in addition to research on
barriers, NSF should support research on successful minorities and women
in science and engineering to see what made them successful. Dr. Kelly
wondered whether there is a mechanism for getting a more systematic
and quantified picture of what the Foundation was doing to increase
diversity in programs across the agency. Dr. Colwell said that some
data exist but that no external review has been conducted. Dr. Gaillard
said that her impression is that over the last 30 years, departmental
support for diversity has improved; that while attitudes have improved,
the pool of potential hires has not increased enough. Dr. Lubchenco
added that studies have shown that the dual-career issue is another
problem for women.
Dr. Kelly raised the question of what issues should be
discussed at the May Board meeting. He especially encouraged ideas for
long-range planning. In response, Dr. Richardson, noting that not much
had been said about tools, said he was interested in learning more about
the long-range planning concerning equipment and infrastructure. Dr.
Savitz asked whether, given that six different federal agencies are
involved in the new initiatives, there was a lead agency to ensure that
efforts would not be duplicated. Dr. Colwell noted that NSF had been
designated the lead agency in both the IT and nanotechnology initiatives
and Dr. Wong briefly described the coordination effort for the nanotechnology
Dr. Lubchenco commented on the need to look ahead to the
FY 2002 budget to begin formulating the plans for the Biocomplexity
and the Environment Initiative. She asked why SBE was not mentioned
in connection with any of the four areas highlighted for the initiative
in 2001. Dr. Leinen responded that the May meeting would provide more
thinking with regard to the environmental portfolio. Dr. Colwell added
that NSF's incubation grants will get small groups of people together
to address this issue so that all of the movement would not be top-down.
Dr. Leinen noted that while currently the initiative's funding is in
the biosciences budget, the nature of the proposals are very interdisciplinary
and included many SBE researchers.
Dr. Kelly said that the May meeting should address the
issue of how priorities are determined and tradeoffs in the allocation
of resources are made between and within directorates. Dr. Langford
reiterated his point that grant size had to be increased; small grants
are not only inefficient but they actually hamper research by not allowing
the formation of the expert teams needed in the modern laboratory. Dr.
Sequeira asked for an evaluation of the use of pre-proposals with respect
to such question as: Do they provide enough information for reliable
reviews? And: Do they leave room for investigator initiative?
Dr. Cehelsky drew the Board members' attention to two
National Academy of Sciences reports that had been distributed to them
relating to topics to be considered in the future.
Dr. Kelly thanked everyone who worked to prepare for the
Board meeting and adjourned the Open Session at 6:00 p.m.
Senior Policy Analyst
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