FYI THIS MONTH: APRIL 2005
HIGHLIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENTS IN WASHINGTON IMPACTING THE PHYSICS COMMUNITY FROM FYI, THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS BULLETIN OF SCIENCE POLICY NEWS
Audrey T. Leath, Richard M. Jones
fyithismonth@aip.org
NASA: At a hearing on NASA's future, House Science Committee members highlighted the need for "full and open debate" on the President's Vision for Space Exploration. The new chairman of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, Ken Calvert (R- CA), warned that "much of what [NASA has] today may not match up with what we need for the future." At his confirmation hearing, new NASA Administrator Michael Griffin supported space exploration but contended that "NASA can do more than one thing at a time."

DOE OFFICE OF SCIENCE: Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) have circulated a "Dear Colleague" letter seeking support for an increase over FY05 funding for DOE's Office of Science. Reps. Judy Biggert (R-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) are authors of a similar letter in the House. Office of Science Director Ray Orbach urged the science community to "get the word out" that "science needs to be treated differently" and declared that science is "the fuel of economic prosperity for this country." Biggert called the cuts to DOE basic research "counterintuitive."

EVOLUTION: National Academy of Sciences President Bruce Alberts sent a March 4 letter to all Academy members, calling on them to confront "challenges to teaching evolution."

SCIENCE TEACHING: Winners of the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching testified before the House Science Committee that the most valuable step the federal government can take to improve K-12 science and math education is to support high-quality teacher training and professional development. AIP and several of its Member Societies signed onto letters to appropriators in support of federal programs to improve science and math education. Members of Congress have also circulated letters on Capitol Hill in support of these programs. Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) agreed that "the federal government has an important role to play in K-12 education," but warned that "intervention from Washington can make things worse as well as better." The Math and Science Incentive Act, sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) in the House and Sen. John Warner (R-VA) in the Senate, would provide student loan forgiveness for undergraduates pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering or math, or K-12 teaching in those subjects.

VISAS: Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Jeff Bingaman (D- NM) have introduced a bill that would reform the visa application process for foreign students and scientists.

NSF: In another "Dear Colleague" letter, Reps. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) are calling for NSF FY06 funding of $6.1 billion, rather than the requested $5.6 billion.

HOMELAND SECURITY S&T: House appropriators at a recent hearing commended the work of Charles McQueary, the Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security.