The National Science Foundation’s sponsoring official for the latest materials research decadal survey recently said she is disappointed it did not offer specific direction on emerging research areas and that the research community’s participation was inadequate. However, she also said she agrees with its broad emphasis on the need for coordination and to bolster mid-scale research infrastructure.
The Trump administration seeks to shave about $1 billion from the National Science Foundation’s budget in fiscal year 2020. Within the constrained topline, NSF proposes to embark on a major upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider and press ahead with its ten “Big Ideas,” advancing new programs dedicated to mid-scale infrastructure and convergence research.
The National Science Foundation’s budget will increase 4 percent to $8.1 billion under the final spending legislation for fiscal year 2019. The measure provides funding for the agency’s proposed “Big Ideas” and facility construction projects, while also explicitly maintaining support for “core” research and existing infrastructure.
Several federal agencies are working to curb foreign nations, particularly China, from using talent recruitment programs and other methods to capitalize on the fruits of U.S.-financed R&D. In the latest major development, the Department of Energy announced last week that it will restrict its employees and future grantees from participating in recruitment programs operated by “sensitive” countries.
Over the past two years, Congress passed legislation updating and endorsing a wide range of federal R&D activities, including marquee bills focused on quantum information science, energy research, weather forecasting, and hazard preparedness.
The enactment of the National Quantum Initiative Act on Dec. 21 creates a multiagency program spanning the National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation, and Department of Energy. As part of the initiative, NSF and DOE will each establish between two and five competitively awarded research centers.
The National Academies has issued a statement of task and selected the leaders for the next decadal survey in astronomy and astrophysics. Meanwhile, proponents of large projects are preparing their submissions for the survey.
President Trump has made five new appointments to the National Science Board, the governing board of the National Science Foundation. He has also renewed the terms of Geraldine Richmond and former Board Chair Maria Zuber.
To address the persistent underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM fields, the National Science Foundation has issued a set of major awards through its INCLUDES initiative to scale up promising strategies with a national network of projects.