Scientists Showcase Research Breakthroughs on Capitol Hill

By Tawanda W. Johnson

David Wu web
Photograph by Michael Lucibella/APS

U.S. Rep. David Wu (OR-1st) (far left) learned about science breakthroughs during the recent NUFO event on Capitol Hill.

Flieschmann web
Photograph by Michael Lucibella/APS

U.S. Rep Chuck Fleischmann (TN-3rd) told the NUFO event attendees that he supported science to keep the U.S. globally competitive.

Electric batteries, self-regenerative materials and targeted medicinal capsules are just a few of the many areas of research featured during the first scientific exhibition on Capitol Hill sponsored by the National Scientific User Facility Organization (NUFO).

NUFO represents 30,000 scientists, engineers and students who conduct research at the national laboratories. The labs are home to approximately 40 “user facilities,” which are vital to the research performed by scientists and engineers in companies and universities throughout the nation.  Eli Lilly, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Intel and IBM are some examples of the companies that rely on the national facilities to develop new consumer products, energy technologies and drug therapies for curing diseases.

Nearly all of the user facilities were represented at the event held recently in the foyer of the Rayburn Office Building. Scientists used posters to explain their scientific research and how it benefits the United States. An electronic map featuring the various users and facilities throughout the country was also on display.  

“The users of these facilities are conducting research that will help society improve its standard of living,” said Rene Bellwied, professor of physics at the University of Houston and chair of NUFO, in his introductory remarks.  

Stephen Wasserman, a chemist at Eli Lilly, who spoke at the event, noted, “Virtually all bio-tech companies rely on national user facilities.” Wasserman’s research consists of studying protein structures that will help Eli Lilly develop future pharmaceuticals.

Thom Mason, director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and overseer of 11 user facilities, told the group that the scientists’ research support findings in the landmark Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, which called for major funding in key scientific agencies and in math and science education.

Science has paved the way for job creation and economic growth and is “critically important to our global competitiveness,” said U.S. Rep Chuck Fleischmann (TN-3rd), who concluded the speakers’ program. 

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