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March 28, 2006
Also appeared in print April 3, 2006, p. 14

FROM THE ATLANTA ACS MEETING

Praise For President Bush

Administration support for physical sciences lauded at symposium

Rudy M. Baum

ACS President E. Ann Nalley hosted a presidential symposium, "Ensuring the Future: Sustaining and Strengthening Basic and Applied Research," on March 26, the first day of the ACS national meeting in Atlanta. She stated that a theme of her presidency is "conveying to the public the value of research." She noted that the ACS Congressional Charter specifically mentions improving the "happiness" of citizens, which can be achieved by transforming basic research findings into useful applications.

PHOTO BY LINDA WANG

PRESIDENTIAL SYMPOSIUM Nalley (from left) introduces Rooney; Elsa Reichmanis, director of materials research at Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs; Joseph M. DeSimone, professor of chemistry and chemical engineering, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Orbach; and Turner.

Raymond L. Orbach, director of the Department of Energy's Office of Science, said that this "is a particularly auspicious time for the physical sciences." He told the audience: "You should be as excited as I was at the President's State of the Union speech. To hear a president identify science and technology with the quality of life we have enjoyed since World War II was thrilling. It is now up to us to justify this confidence."

Orbach called President George W. Bush's proposal to double the funding of physical sciences over 10 years a "historic opportunity for our country and a renaissance for science." Orbach outlined a number of major projects the Office of Science is supporting.

Michael S. Turner, assistant director for mathematical and physical sciences at the National Science Foundation, echoed Orbach. The President's budget request would increase NSF's budget by $439 million (7.9%) to $6.02 billion and would put the agency on a track to double its total budget to $11.2 billion by 2016.

"The President's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) is an investment in the physical sciences to ensure the nation's future competitiveness," Turner told the symposium. "The President has done his part; the challenge is for the rest of us to do our jobs."

Peter Rooney, deputy chief of staff of the House Committee on Science, opened his comments by saying, "We love ACS. It is one of the most effective voices for science in Washington." Rooney called ACI "the most important Administration initiative for science since the 1960s," with $910 million of additional funding for DOE's Office of Science, NSF, and the National Institute of Standards & Technology.

However, Rooney cautioned: "The political establishment does not distinguish among different flavors of science. If some branch of science complains about being left out of ACI, that's going to cause confusion. The important message is that ACI is now a flagship proposal. If we can't make this work, no other science initiative is going to move forward. Failure is not an option."

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