At a meeting of the American Physical Society, two physicist-congressmen and a former top federal science official discussed challenges the science community may face in the coming years and sketched out ways to respond.
The chairman’s plans include reforming the use of science in EPA rulemaking, prioritizing basic research at the Department of Energy, promoting STEM education, overseeing cybersecurity investigations, and adjusting NASA’s mission portfolio.
Last week, a flurry of reports out of science-related federal agencies indicated that they had restricted external communications, among other changes. Although these changes now appear not to have represented any immediate long-term shift in policy on scientific communications, scientific organizations have reaffirmed their commitment to scientific freedom and integrity.
In a letter to President Donald Trump, the organizations warn that his executive order temporarily barring citizens of seven nations from entering the U.S. will negatively impact the nation’s science and engineering capacity.
The Senate is expected to confirm Rick Perry as secretary of energy following a relatively uncontentious hearing on Jan. 19, at which the former Texas governor vowed to be a champion for all Department of Energy activities. However, Perry’s support has been partially overshadowed by a report that the Trump administration plans to target DOE for deep budget cuts and program eliminations.
Multiple “exit memos” issued in the waning days of the Obama administration recommend that the incoming administration build upon various science and technology policy initiatives launched over the last eight years.
Among presidents, Barack Obama took an unusually strong interest in science and technology, and his administration pursued a wide array of S&T-related initiatives. However, early hopes for major expansions in R&D funding remained largely unfulfilled.
At the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in December, National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt offered advice to a geosciences community she said is “under siege,” called on scientists to embrace “convergence research,” and directly addressed concerns about the Trump transition.