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By David Voss
At the APS Annual Leadership Meeting in February, several experts came together virtually to discuss the science policy landscape. The session, titled "Federal Policies to Strengthen Science in Service to the Nation," featured two panels with online discussion moderated by science journalist Miles O'Brien.
In the first panel discussion, "The View from Capitol Hill," physicist US Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL-11) and former Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN-6) tackled legislative challenges and opportunities in restoring science to a place of prominence in the government. The discussion covered topics such as the COVID pandemic as a "Sputnik moment" to spur investment in science and the need to keep open scientific channels of communication even in the midst of global economic competition. Climate change and alternative energy innovation, immigration reform to retain global talent, and science education were also major topics.
The second panel, "Moving Forward in a More Competitive Landscape," had a conversation about the global situation in science policy. The members of the panel were Sir Peter Knight (Imperial College London), Neal Lane (Rice University), Sethuraman Panchanathan (NSF), and Ellen Williams (University of Maryland). The panel agreed that we are in a Sputnik moment and confronted by the twin crises of the pandemic and global climate change. Meeting these challenges will require supporting domestic scientific talent and attracting the best and brightest from abroad. At the same time, global scientific cooperation in basic research needs to remain open, while continuing to protect economic assets like intellectual property. Moves by the Biden Administration, such as elevating the OSTP Director to a Cabinet position, are a source of encouragement for the panel.
A video recording of the entire event can be found via the Annual Leadership Meeting website.
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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondents: Sophia Chen, Alaina G. Levine