BESC Public Comments to
President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
September 30, 2002
Thank you for the opportunity to offer a few comments today related to the federal investment in science and technology research and development.
My name is Nadine Lymn, Director of Public Affairs for the Ecological Society of America. I'm here today on behalf of the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition, a group of scientific societies and associations concerned about the future of the biological sciences the United States needs to address growing natural resource challenges.
As PCAST moves forward with its vision for the nation's research enterprise, we ask that the Council recognize the broad range of science disciplines contributing to the wealth of knowledge that translate to this country's astounding quality of life.
In particular, we hope that in the effort to establish national priorities, key science disciplines are not overlooked. The term 'life sciences' is often perceived as consisting primarily of the medical biological sciences although environmental biology, agricultural biology, ecology, among others, are also part of the life sciences. Fundamental biology and related disciplines have been as under-funded as some of the disciplines now highlighted for attention.
The National Science Foundation's Biology Directorate supports over 60 percent of all academic life science research focused on the natural world. However, over the past decade, the funding rate for grants submitted to the NSF's Biology Directorate has been an average 5 percent lower than NSF's overall funding rate, which itself has been referred to as alarmingly low by the House and Senate authorizing committees.
We ask that PCAST recognize that the life sciences are very broad and contain under-funded disciplines that contribute to the ecological health of our country, are essential for management of our natural resources, and have implications for national security.