President’s Science and Technology Council hears from new NSF Director

Subra Suresh identified “four key interconnected topics” for increased focus at NSF

On January 7, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) invited the newly confirmed Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to speak at its first meeting of the year. In his speech to the group of high-level advisors from academia and industry, Subra Suresh, most recently the Dean of Engineering at MIT, identified “four key interconnected topics” for increased focus at NSF: “(1) basic research as fuel for market-viable innovation; (2) the STEM pipeline; (3) the nation's international STEM leadership; and (4) interdisciplinary opportunities for discovery.” 

Of particular relevance for the behavioral and social sciences, given the now annual congressional attacks on NIH and NSF grants from these areas of research, was Suresh’s emphasis that “NSF's mission mandates attention to the entire spectrum of science. Emphasizing some sciences at the expense of others can handicap discovery and compromise innovation.” In response to specific questions from PCAST members about the behavioral and social sciences, Suresh reiterated his strong support for their value in addressing fundamental scientific questions and national challenges.