NSF budget could have a 13 percent increase

February 26, 2011 § 3 Comments

Emphasis of $894 million is on inter-disciplinary science and research

Last week, when President Barack Obama released his proposed 2012 budget, the National Science Foundation came out as a winner with an additional 13 percent in funding, compared to the 2010 budget. The proposed budget allocates a total of almost $8 billion to the NSF’s operating budget.

One of the big initiatives emphasize in this new budget is inter-disciplinary science and research. The new NSF Director Subra Suresh championed such research in his previous position as engineering dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The proposed budget would meet three major goals of NSF’s strategic plan, according to Suresh: to transform the frontiers of research and education, to innovate for society by linking fundamental research to national challenges and to perform as a model organization within the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of modern science and engineering.

These goals and priorities are a result of Obama’s initiative to “win the future” through innovation and education. Specific initiatives emphasized in the 2012 budget include:

  • $12 million annually for INSPIRE, or Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education, a new initiative aimed at changing the way NSF does business by encouraging cross-disciplinary science.
  • $76 million for BioMaPS, or Research at the Interface of the Biological, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, a new program that integrates research from biological sciences, mathematics and physical sciences, and engineering to lead to new theoretical and experimental techniques for clean energy and advanced manufacturing.
  • $998 million for Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability, or SEES, a portfolio of programs launched in fiscal 2011. In fiscal 2012, it will continue to advance climate and energy science, engineering and education to provide a sound scientific basis for shaping policies for environmental and economic sustainability and sustainable human well-being.
  • $576 million for investments that will lead to future clean energy and energy efficiency technologies. These are seen throughout the NSF portfolio, in both core research programs and in interdisciplinary, cross-agency activities such as BioMaPS and SEES.
  • $30 million for the National Robotics Initiative, or NRI, a new cross-agency program.  NSF will work with NASA, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide U.S. leadership in science and engineering research and education aimed at the development of next-generation robots that that work alongside, or even cooperatively, with people. These robots could participate in manufacturing, space and undersea exploration, healthcare and rehabilitation, military and homeland surveillance and security, education and training, and safe driving.

“NSF’s research programs and high-tech workforce development programs help drive future economic growth, global competitiveness and the creation of high-wage jobs for American workers,” the budget report states. Although Obama’s budget calls for an increase, it has yet to be approved and faces a Congress that’s dedicated to budget cuts. The Republicans are seeking a decrease in the NSF’s budget, as House Appropriations Committee chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) also proposed last week to slash $139 million.

Overall, this is good news for the members of iAMscientist and anyone else interested in pursuing inter-disciplinary research. Our current administration is supportive of America’s scientists, allowing us to continue to contribute to scientific discovery with the rest of the world. If not already involved with iAMscientist and inter-disciplinary collaboration, a good way to start is to utilize our new search function, to find researchers and institutions the fulfill the skill sets you need


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