Cherry A. Murray, Deputy Director for Science and Technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, assumed the APS presidency on Jan. 1, 2009. In July, she will become Dean of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. Q: What do you see as the most pressing issues facing the physics community right now? A:
Cherry A. Murray
First, let me start with the challenges facing the nation and also the globe: national security, energy security, environmental security and human health are all critical issues. On top of that, the global financial crisis and U.S. economic security are also important challenges. The challenges facing the globe require the underpinning of an incredibly strong and vital science and engineering enterprise. The Rising Above the Gathering Storm Committee at the National Academies, on which I served, identified several areas of concern where I believe APS can play a role. The gathering storm that we see in this country is a lack of a future science and engineering work force, the stagnation of support for basic and long-term applied research and a plan for retaining our high-tech economic sector that drives the economy. We have fallen down considerably. The U.S. has become much too complacent. Q: What will be your focus during your presidential year? A:
The federal government needs a long-range plan for how the nation is going to address these challenges, including a strategy for maintaining the vitality of the science and engineering enterprise across academia and the national labs in partnership with industry. Federal funding for science and technology needs to be predictable and sustained. Physics can play a huge role. I would like to see APS work with the National Academies and other professional societies to provide a unified message from the scientific community in support of a long-range plan for federal support of basic and long-term applied scientific research balanced across disciplines. I am also the chair of the Division of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the National Research Council, and I’m on the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. I think APS can be a leader in bringing the societies together.