NSF Officials Emphasize Importance of Budget, Collaboration to Drive Science & Engineering Advancements

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Leaders of the National Science Foundation and its policymaking body said at a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday that President Biden’s fiscal 2022 discretionary budget proposal supports agency work across the science and engineering (S&E) fields.

NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan told members of the House Research and Technology subcommittee the administration requested a $10.17 billion budget for the agency, up 20 percent from the current funding levels, and called for the formation of a technology directorate that will focus on emerging technology development efforts.

“Fields such as artificial intelligence and quantum information science hold the promise of incredible job growth, prosperity, and strengthened national security,” he noted.

Panchanathan said research innovation investments coupled with partnerships among the government, commercial and academic sectors help sustain U.S.’ edge in science and technology.

At the same meeting, Ellen Ochoa, chair of NSF’s National Science Board, overviewed a 10-year roadmap for the national S&E enterprise.

Vision 2030 outlines three trends identified by the board through an analysis of its biennial Science and Engineering Indicators data, namely the globalization of science and engineering, growth of knowledge- and technology-intensive industries and the demand for STEM talent.

“It is on this foundation, and in the context of the three trends that call for urgency, that NSB, in concert with NSF, wants to partner with policymakers and stakeholders, including this committee, to build NSF’s future,” Ochoa said.

Several bills intended to increase research funding are being lobbied both in the House and Senate. The NSF for the Future Act seeks to more than double the agency’s annual budget to $18.3 billion by 2026, while the Securing American Leadership in Science and Technology Act seeks a long-term investment strategy for basic research and infrastructure.

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