The House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee has marked up it’s FY11 appropriations bill and approved a healthy increase for the National Science Foundation. The committee approved essentially the President’s requested increase for NSF, about an 8 percent increase in FY11 vs. FY10. Here’s a breakdown. It appears that NSF’s Research and Related Activities account is slightly lower than the request ($58 million, but $343 million more than FY10), and that Education and Human Resources is bumped up by a nearly corresponding amount ($66 million more than the request, $86 million more than FY10).

Subcommittee Chair Alan Mollohan (D-WV) explained how the bill treats science and STEM Ed funding in the bill in his statement to open the markup:

For investments in science, technology and innovation, the bill provides $32.8 billion, an increase of $1.6 billion over comparable levels from last year. Within this level, the Subcommittee bill provides $7.4 billion for the National Science Foundation and $19 billion for NASA, both equal to the request. For NIST, the bill provides $882.9 million. NOAA is recommended for $5.5 billion. The Subcommittee recommendation continues to provide resources consistent with the doubling path identified for NSF and NIST in the COMPETES Act. It also considers the science and research conducted at NOAA and NASA as critical to the Nation’s science enterprise as that performed by the NSF and NIST, and investments are recommended accordingly.

Within overall science funding, the bill provides $1.5 billion to support all aspects of science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – education, from kindergarten through graduate school. The bill puts a particular focus on inquiry-based instruction, broadening minority participation, and increasing graduate student fellowships.

Encouraging step. Still far from the endgame in appropriations, but about as good a start as we could’ve hoped, I think.

More details as I get them.

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The President’s Innovation and Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) is looking for advice regarding infrastructures paramount to innovation in information technology, nanotechnology, and biotechnology. Comments can be submitted to the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST) through the online portal OpenPCAST.

Specifically, PITAC asks:

What are the critical infrastructures that only government can help provide that are needed to enable creation of new biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information technology products and innovations – a technological congruence that we have been calling the “Golden Triangle” – that will lead to new jobs and greater GDP?

PCAST is also hosting a webcast on June 22nd between 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. During the webcast, comments can be submitted via email (, or PCAST’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

The information obtained from these activities should support the implementation of President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation. Furthermore, the announcement mentions an upcoming PCAST/PITAC initiative to create jobs through science, technology and innovation.

For a link to the webcast, visit the PCAST website on June 22 before 10 a.m.


MIT Dean of Engineering Nominated for NSF Director

On June 3, 2010, in People, by Peter Harsha

This word just received from OSTP:

Subra Suresh, Nominee for Director, National Science Foundation

Subra Suresh is currently Dean of the School of Engineering and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From 2000 to 2006, Dr. Suresh served as the head of the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering.  He joined MIT in 1993 as the R.P. Simmons Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and since then has held joint faculty appointments in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Biological Engineering, as well as the Division of Health Sciences and Technology.  From 1983 to 1993, Dr. Suresh was a faculty member in the Division of Engineering at Brown University.  He has been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Indian National Academy of Engineering, the Indian Academy of Sciences in Bangalore, the Royal Spanish Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Sciences of the Developing World based in Trieste, Italy, and the German National Academy of Sciences.  Dr. Suresh is the recipient of the 2007 European Materials Medal, the highest honor conferred by the Federation of European Materials Societies, and the 2006 Acta Materialia Gold Medal.  He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, an M.S. from Iowa State University, and a Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Dr. Suresh also holds honorary doctorate degrees from the Technical University of Madrid in Spain and Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

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