November 17, 2009 – Representatives of the nation's leading public and private research universities, joined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Members of Congress, today announced the launch of ScienceWorksForUS, an initiative that will highlight the scientific research and related activities that have been made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), also known as the stimulus.
The centerpiece of the initiative is a website (www.ScienceWorksForUS.org) that highlights Recovery Act-sponsored research in all 50 states, telling the stories of the research and the researchers contributing to America's recovery. The website went live today.
"'ScienceWorksForUS' is highlighting the way Recovery Act funds have made their way into academic laboratories, and reflects what's possible when smart investments in the public sector are placed in the hands of our scientists, innovators, and academies of higher learning," Speaker Pelosi said. "Through our ongoing support for researchers across the country, we will ensure that the Recovery Act was not the end of our investment in innovation, but the beginning of a sustained commitment to science."
The stimulus contained $21.5 billion for scientific research, the purchase of capital equipment and science-related construction projects. This money, less than 3 percent of the $787 billion stimulus measure, represented an historic infusion of funding for research and an affirmation of the essential role scientific inquiry and discovery play in both short-term recovery and long-term economic growth.
"Scientific research funded by the Recovery Act is underway in every state in the nation," said University of Arizona President Robert Shelton. "These research projects – large and small – are making a difference in hundreds of local communities by providing jobs for researchers, lab technicians, and graduate students. That's the 'Recovery' part of ARRA. But these investments are even more important as part of the 'Reinvestment' component of ARRA. The funds for research are part of the reinvestment the nation must make to grow a strong economy that is based on addressing 21st century challenges, including improving health and meeting energy needs in ways that help slow climate change. The result will be an economy that produces well-paying jobs for the long-term."
"Almost a year ago, a group of leaders from Congress, academia, research and industry gathered at Princeton University to underscore the need for a greater investment in research and innovation to reinvigorate our economy," said Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), co-chair of the Congressional R&D Caucus. "When we invested nearly $22 billion in the Recovery Bill for scientific discovery, we set the stage not just for job creation today, but for the economic growth of tomorrow. It is vital for our long-term economic prosperity that we maintain this robust commitment to scientific research and development."
The purpose of ScienceWorksForUS is to ensure that the public is aware of the important work being made possible by the funding for scientific research that was included in the ARRA. This work holds broad implications for local communities and society at large.
"Research is the gift that keeps on giving," according to Emily Carter, the Arthur W. Marks '19 Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University. Beyond the immediate impact of the funding, investing in research delivers new ideas that lead to new technologies, new companies and new jobs. "We want these 21st century problems solved here in the U.S., creating new American industries that compete globally and provide long-term job growth in the U.S.," she said.
Carter successfully competed for ARRA funding through the National Science Foundation (NSF). She is using her NSF grant to develop fundamental tools to predict the behavior of molecules and materials that will contribute to the development of energy efficient vehicles as well as support efforts to use alternative fuel sources. One such tool will be used to design lightweight metal alloys for use in fuel-efficient vehicles, while another will optimize the use of renewable liquid biofuels for transportation.
Also on hand to discuss his ARRA funded research was Jin Kang, professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. Kang specializes in lasers and optical fiber. With the support of stimulus funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), he is building a tool to help brain surgeons locate and get a clear look at cancerous tissue. In some cases, he says, this device could eliminate the need to cut into the brain for a traditional biopsy. "The idea," he says, "is to provide instant high-resolution pictures of a small segment of the brain without actually touching the tissue. These pictures could let the doctor conduct a 'virtual biopsy' to see where the tumor is and whether it is benign or malignant. And when it's time to cut out the cancer, these images could help a surgeon see and avoid healthy tissue."
Other participants in today's event included: Steven Fluharty, vice provost for research at the University of Pennsylvania; Michael Pazzani, vice president for research and graduate and professional education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; and Caroline C. Whitacre, vice president for research at The Ohio State University. They described the impact of ARRA research funding on their campuses and provided their perspectives as scientists about what might be possible as a result of the infusion of ARRA funding in specific fields of science and medicine. Fluharty is a professor of pharmacology, psychology and neuroscience. Pazzani is a professor of computer science and a member of the Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science. Whitacre is an immunologist and a leading authority on autoimmune disease.
In addition to launching the new website, ScienceWorksForUS today released a compilation of more than 50 ARRA-funded research projects from around the country. Researchers associated with these projects are available to speak to the media about their work.
ScienceWorksForUS is an initiative of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A۰P۰L۰U), and The Science Coalition (TSC). AAU, A۰P۰L۰U, and TSC collectively represent more than 200 of the nation's leading academic research institutions.
The Association of American Universities (AAU) is an association of 62 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada organized to develop and implement effective national and institutional policies supporting research and scholarship, graduate, professional, and undergraduate education, and public service in research universities. AAU universities award over one-half of all U.S. doctoral degrees and 55 percent of those in the sciences and engineering.
Founded in 1887, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A۰P۰L۰U) is an association of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and many state public university systems. Its 219 members enroll more than 4.7 million students, award nearly one-million degrees annually, and conduct nearly two-thirds of all academic research, totaling more than $34 billion annually. As the nation's oldest higher education association, A۰P۰L۰U is dedicated to excellence in learning, discovery and engagement.
The Science Coalition is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization representing 48 of the nation's leading public and private research universities. It is dedicated to sustaining the federal government's investment in basic research as a means to stimulate the economy, drive innovation and secure America's global competitiveness.