Science News Roundup: Lawmaker and Head of NSF Warn of Delays to Funding U.S. Tech Research
As the world progresses towards a technological era, the United States must keep up or risk being left behind. That is why it is concerning news that U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas and the head of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Sethuraman Panchanathan, have spoken out about potential delays to funding American tech research.
The NSF is responsible for funding over a quarter of all federally-supported basic research conducted at America’s colleges and universities. While the NSF’s funding has seen modest increases in recent years, it still falls short of the recommended levels. As a result, both Johnson and Panchanathan anticipate that the budgets for future research could be held up in Congress.
Why the Delay in Funding Could Be Disastrous
The delay in funding could be highly detrimental to U.S. technological advancement. American research is the driving force behind advancements, and it is what allows new companies to emerge and thrive in the tech sector.
The NSF is in dire need of a bigger budget so that they can continue to effectively invest in all areas of research. In addition, growing threats from foreign competitors in the tech industry make these advancements more crucial than ever.
A majority of tech advancements that are used by all Americans today, like GPS and touchscreens, were born out of government funding. In addition, university researchers play a vital role in America’s technological future.
In 1946, Vannevar Bush, the Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, created a report called Science — The Endless Frontier. The report solidified the government’s role in funding and directing research, which led to more patents and companies emerging from American universities and colleges.
One of the latest breakthroughs in tech research in America came from the NSF in 2019. Researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology used their funding from the NSF to create a successful, “bio-inspired, tendon-driven, soft robot that was capable of crawling like a turtle.”
The delay in funding for American tech research could be detrimental to the country’s ability to keep up in the tech sector. The NSF needs to be funded at recommended levels so that researchers at universities and colleges across the country can continue to create life-changing advancements.
The United States must keep up with its tech research efforts if it wants to remain a world leader in technological advancements. Rep. Johnson and the head of NSF know this and have spoken out on the issue. It’s now up to Congress to act and ensure that the NSF is funded appropriately to continue fueling the future of the American tech industry.