FYI THIS MONTH: SEPTEMBER 2006
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
YUCCA MOUNTAIN HEARING: Legislation to expedite the opening of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada was discussed at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. A DOE official declared at the hearing that the probability of reaching DOE's goal of opening Yucca Mountain in 2017 would be "zero" without such legislation. Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) said he hoped to generate "constructive dialogue," but Minority Leader and Nevada Senator Harry Reid, a dedicated Yucca Mountain opponent, argued that the legislation would "change the rules." Another recent Energy and Natural Resources hearing, which drew the interest of several key senators, reviewed progress toward a hydrogen-based transportation economy. Under Secretary of Energy David Garman provided a positive report on DOE's hydrogen program, saying that it was "on track" to meet its 2010 and 2015 technical goals. Garman added, however, that "we're not there yet" and the learning process would take time.

AIP STATE DEPARTMENT FELLOWSHIP: AIP is now seeking applicants for its 2007-8 State Department Science Fellowship. AIP Fellows have worked in many different bureaus at the State Department, on topics as varied as export controls, critical infrastructure protection, biotechnology, use of remote sensing imagery, and sustainable development. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, be members of one or more of the ten AIP Member Societies, have a PhD or equivalent in physics or a related field, and be eligible to receive a security clearance. Please see http://www.aip.org/gov/sdf.html for more details.

MATERIALS PHYSICS REPORT: As part of a comprehensive decadal study entitled "Physics 2010," a National Research Council committee is seeking comments on an interim report surveying recent accomplishments and future opportunities in condensed-matter and materials physics. The report lists eight important challenges for R&D.

S&E DEMOGRAPHICS INFORMATION: Recent NSF "InfoBriefs" reveal that enrollments of U.S. citizens and permanent residents in S&E graduate studies increased from 2003 to 2004, while first- year enrollment of foreign S&E graduate students in U.S. universities has continued to decline for the third consecutive year. The American Institute of Physics also produces reports on demographic, education and workforce issues within the physics and astronomy communities. Reports released within the past year look at employment in academia, employment of recent physics and astronomy degree recipients, first-year graduate students, and the experiences of women in physics. While 86% of the women surveyed said they would choose to go into physics again, 71% also reported "being discouraged by physics."

FY07 APPROPRIATIONS: Congress passed only the FY07 spending bills for DOD and Homeland Security before leaving town for the mid-term elections. A continuing resolution will fund all other government programs through November 17 at the lowest amount among the House-passed or Senate-passed bills or the current funding level. It is not clear how the FY07 appropriations process will be completed when Congress returns after the elections.