Scientists call for basic research to address national priorities

November 20, 2000

"... it is ultimately our children and grandchildren who will pay the price for our inability to retain our nation's commitment to basic research as a key component of our strategy to maintain long-term economic growth."

-Congressman Vernon Ehlers

Cambridge, MA - A group of scientists and policymakers from around the country will convene a national nonpartisan conference entitled "Basic Research in the Service of Public Objectives," on November 28-29, 2000 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science building in Washington, DC. Conference speakers include NSF Director Rita Colwell, NCI Director Richard Klausner, former Science Advisors to the President D. Allan Bromley and Jack Gibbons, as well as David Hamburg, Mary Good, MRC Greenwood and Leon Lederman.

The conference will formulate for the incoming President and Congress a federal science policy blueprint that addresses critical national issues. The conference will urge the linking of basic science research-the historical engine for the US's tremendous economic, medical and technological advances-with vital areas of public interest, such as education, energy and global climate change.

Recently, both Democrats and Republicans have joined to express strong support for the nation's science endeavors. Yet they also recognize the need to present a consistent, overarching rationale to citizens and policymakers for such research. Conference speaker Rep. Vernon Ehlers, Vice-Chair of the House Science Committee, noted, "funding enough far-sighted, interdisciplinary research is a tension that is at the essence of the importance of renewing our nation's commitment to science." Harvard Professor Lewis Branscomb, one of the conference organizers, argues that "the public expects government leaders to take a much longer view, justifying and managing the work to maximize public benefits, taking into account both public and private investments."

The conference takes place on the heels of a presidential election so close that in following four years progress will be achieved only through bipartisan action. This historical moment provides a unique opportunity for both parties to commit Federal resources to long-term investments, empowering the American people to solve their most critical national problems. The federal science policy blueprint resulting from this conference will be the cornerstone of an ongoing initiative to unite scientists, politicians and citizens behind a joint effort to use science address the needs and priorities of a society moving forward into the 21st century.

National Conference
Basic Research in the Service of Public Objectives
November 28-29, 2000

Auditorium, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

November 28, 2000

Registration and Coffee
8:30 - 9:00 am

Introduction and Keynote
9:00 - 9:30 am

Welcome for AAAS
Mary Good, President, AAAS, Venture Capital Investments, LLC

A more effective approach to science resources policy
Lewis Branscomb, Professor in Public Policy and Corp. Man., Emeritus, Harvard University

David Hamburg, President, Emeritus, Carnegie Corporation of NY

Defining the issues
9:30 - 10:40 am
MRC Greenwood, Chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz

The view from OSTP
D. Allan Bromley, Sterling Prof of the Sciences, Yale University

What is the imperative for basic science that serves national needs?
Gerald Holton, Professor of Physics of the History of Science, Emeritus Harvard University

Learning from prior experience: audience responses to prepared papers and discussion
Harvey Brooks, Professor of Technology and Public Policy, Emeritus, Harvard University
Gerhard Sonnert, Research Associate, Harvard University

Coffee Break
10:40 -11:00am

Long-term, creative strategies for addressing public interest missions
11am - 12:10 pm
Maxine Singer, President, Carnegie Institute of Washington

Basic biomedical and physical sciences in pursuit of public health
Richard Klausner, Director, National Cancer Institute

Interdisciplinary science targeted at key scientific problems of public importance at the NSF
Rita Colwell, Director, National Science Foundation

Audience Discussion

12:10 - 1:25pm

Human resource diversity and the future of science
1:25 - 2:45 pm

Introduction and Chair
Paula Rayman, Director, Radcliff Public Policy Center, Harvard University

Gender diversity
Vivian Pinn, Associate Director - Research on Women's Health, NIH

Underrepresented minorities
Shirley Malcom, Director Education and Human Organizational action and diversity
Jaleh Daie, Director, Science Programs, Packard Foundation

Diversity and scientific workplaces
Lilian Wu, Research Scientist and Consultant, Corporate Technical Strategy Development, IBM


Coffee Break
2:45 - 3:00 pm

Identifying and evaluating the creative research component of R&D in the federal budget
3:00 - 4:30 pm Chair Richard Nelson
George Blumenthal, Professor of International and Public Affairs, Business and Law, Columbia University

How can the creative research segment of the federal R&D budget be tracked and optimized?
Richard Bissell, Executive Director, COSEPUP, AAAS

The 21st Century Research Fund as a step toward a research line in the budget
Sarah Horrigan, Program Evaluator, OMB

Scientific leadership as a goal
Ralph Gomory, President, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation


The View from Congress
4:30 - 5:40 pm
Jack Gibbons, Senior Fellow, National Academy of Engineering; President, Sigma XI
Congressional participant, TBA
Congressional participant, TBA

6:00 - 8:00 pm

A new policy for science?
8:00 - 9:30 pm
Walter Massey, President, Morehouse College
Vernon Ehlers, United States Congress
David Guston, Senior Research Scholar, Center for Science, Policy and Outcomes
Audience Discussion

November 29, 2000

Introduction to case discussion
Lewis Branscomb, Professor in Public Policy and Corp. Man., Emeritus, Harvard University
9:00 - 9:20am

Science of Learning and Education Case Discussion
9:20 - 11:00 am
Leon Lederman, Director, Emeritus, Fermi National Laboratory
Case discussion presentation
John Bransford, Co-director, Learning Technology Center, Vanderbilt University
Alexandra Wigdor, Deputy Director, CBASSE, National Research Council
Nora Sabelli, Senior Research Fellow, Univ. of Texas
Audience Discussion

Coffee Break
11:00- 11:30 am

Science of Global Change Case Discussion
11:30 - 1:00 pm
Moderator William Clark, Prof. of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development, Harvard University
Case discussion presentation
Warren Washington, Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Sarah Horrigan
Program Evaluator, OMB
Robert Palmer, Democratic Staff Director, House Committee on Science

Audience Discussion

1:00 - 2:30 pm

Science of Energy Case Discussion
2:30 - 4:00 pm
Mildred Dresselhaus, Director, Office of Science, DOE
Case discussion presentation
John Holdren, Director, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Prog., Harvard University
Elgie Holstein

Special Advisory to the Secretary of Commerce, NOAA
Looking to the future: Implementing Strategic Basic Research
4:00 - 5:00 pm

Mary Good
President, AAAS, Venture Capital Investments, LLC

Audience Discussion

American Association for the Advancement of Science

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