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AIBS, 48 Member Organizations Send Letter to Senate on Future of NSF

August 2015

The Honorable Cory Gardner
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
512 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Gary Peters
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
254 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Gardner and Peters,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input regarding the scientific community’s priorities for the reauthorization for the America COMPETES Act.

Scientific research is an important engine that powers our nation’s economic growth. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the federal agency that supports the fundamental scientific research that is the foundation upon which we build knowledge and inspire innovation. Through competitive, peer-reviewed research grants, the NSF funds discoveries that will help to solve the most challenging problems facing society. NSF research, education, and training programs lead to new patents, prepare a highly skilled workforce, and stimulate the creation of new jobs. Many of the groundbreaking ideas that have enhanced the nation’s economic competitiveness or improved the quality of our lives have grown from NSF-funded research.

These efforts, however, require a sustained federal investment. Unpredictable annual swings in federal funding disrupt research programs, create uncertainty in the research community, and stall the development of the next great idea. Funding for basic research has been stagnant in recent years, particularly when adjusted for inflation. Given the importance of research and development to our economic growth and global competitiveness, Congress should make new, multi-year investments in NSF.

We encourage the Committee to pursue a reauthorization bill that builds on the following principles:

  • NSF should maintain its focus on fundamental discovery. The agency’s mission should not be driven towards commercial outcomes.
  • Reauthorization of the NSF should outline a path for new investments. Sustained growth in funding is needed for programs that support basic research and science education.
  • Congress should recognize the unique role of NSF as the only agency supporting the full breadth of scientific research and education.
  • Congress should not pick winners and losers among NSF research programs. The National Science Board and leadership of the NSF must retain the authority and nimbleness to allocate funding among the disciplines.
  • Legislation should support the existing merit review system. NSF’s peer review system has a proven track record of supporting high quality research that advances our knowledge and leads to solutions for the challenges facing modern society.

Again, we thank you for your leadership on this issue and hope that this and other science-related legislation might move through the Senate in a bipartisan way.

Sincerely,

Robert Gropp, Ph.D.
Interim Co-Executive Director
American Institute of Biological Sciences
Scott M. Lanyon, Ph.D.
President
American Ornithologists’ Union
Ellen Bergfeld, Ph.D.
CEO
American Society of Agronomy
Larry G. Allen, Ph.D.
President
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Eileen A. Lacey, Ph.D.
President
American Society of Mammalogists
Mark Siddall, Ph.D.
President
American Society of Parasitologists
Julian I. Schroeder, Ph.D.
President
American Society of Plant Biologists
Patrick Herendeen, Ph.D.
President
American Society of Plant Taxonomists
Marilyn A. Norconk, Ph.D.
President
American Society of Primatologists
Olin E. Rhodes, Jr., Ph.D.
President
Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
Christopher Beck, Ph.D.
President
Association for Biology Laboratory Education
James Elser, Ph.D.
President
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
Robin L. Chazdon, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Leonard Krishtalka, Ph.D.
Director
Biodiversity Institute, The University of Kansas
Richard Olmstead, Ph.D.
President
Botanical Society of America
Kenneth L. Heck, Jr., Ph.D.
President
Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation
Martin G. Raphael, Ph.D.
President
Cooper Ornithological Society
Ellen Bergfeld, Ph.D.
CEO
Crop Science Society of America
Monica G. Turner, Ph.D.
President
Ecological Society of America
Phillip G. Mulder, Jr., Ph.D.
President
Entomological Society of America
Jasper Rine, Ph.D.
President
Genetics Society of America
James Hanken, Ph.D.
Director
Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology
Peter English, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Human Anatomy and Physiology Society
Andreas Zedrosser, Ph.D.
Acting President
International Organization for Bear Research and Management
Susan J. Weller, Ph.D.
Executive Director
James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History and Planetarium
Robert B. Waide, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Long Term Ecological Research Network
Joseph A. Cook, Ph.D.
Museum Director
Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico
Georgiana May, Ph.D.
President-Elect
Mycological Society of America
Nancy Rabalais, Ph.D.
President
National Association of Marine
Larry Page, Ph.D.
President
Natural Science Collections Laboratories Alliance
Sarah D. Oktay, Ph.D.
President
Organization of Biological Field Stations
Steven M. Holland, Ph.D.
President
Paleontological Society
Frederick W. Zechman, Ph.D.
President
Phycological Society of America
David J. Caldwell, Ph.D.
President
Poultry Science Association
Michael Mares, Ph.D.
Director
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
Luke J. Swetland
President and CEO
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Greg Schiefer
Executive Director
Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry of North America
Byron Adams, Ph.D.
President
Society of Nematologists
John A. Long, Ph.D.
President
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Kimberli Ponzio
President
Society of Wetland Scientists
Elizabeth Adkins-Regan, Ph.D.
President
Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
Cassandra L. Quave, Ph.D.
President
Society for Economic Botany
Peter Wainwright, Ph.D.
President
Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
Santiago Schnell, Ph.D.
President
Society for Mathematical Biology
Andrew Bentley
President
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections
Aaron M. Bauer, Ph.D.
President
Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
Ellen Bergfeld, Ph.D.
CEO
Soil Science Society of America
Gregory Long
Chief Executive Officer
The New York Botanical Garden
Janet Franklin, Ph.D.
President
US Regional Association of the InternationalAssociation for Landscape Ecology
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