News & Trends

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news & trends Science agencies see presequestration federal budget levels in FY 2016 Many science agencies can expect to see their federal budget numbers in fiscal year 2016 return to levels not seen since the FY 2013 sequestration, even adjusting for inflation, according to a recent report published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The sequestration and the spending caps under the Budget Control Act signed into law by President Obama in 2011 to bring an end to the United States debt-ceiling crisis meant science agencies lost billions in funding since FY 2012. But thanks to a strong boost from the recent omnibus package provided by the October 2015 budget deal passed by Congress—a package that enables several increases in R&D appropriations—the FY 2016 numbers for many major R&D agencies look strong, AAAS reports. The positive outlook, however, did not always look so strong. “It’s worth remembering that at the start of this appropriations cycle, discretionary spending was scheduled to be virtually flat in FY 2016. It was much the same in the prior year, dealing with FY 2015 appropriations, and most agencies saw little if any gain,” AAAS reports. The Department of Energy applied technology programs—including fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy research; energy efficiency; grid-related research; and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy—each now have a program budget at least 8.6% above FY 2012 levels. Basic research funding for Department of Defense science and technology is at 8% above FY 2012 levels after the omnibus. However, funding for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is 4.1% below FY 2012. Credit: frankieleon; Flickr CC BY 2.0 A recent report suggests that many science agencies soon can expect increased funding. The National Science Foundation actually saw strong budget growth postsequestration and since has leveled off following the omnibus package. “NSF funding may be a casualty of debates over social sciences and geosciences funding and the feud between the agency and the House Science Committee,” AAAS reports. President Obama requested $1.1 billion for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in FY 2016—$255.8 million above the FY 2015 level—to help fund advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, disaster resilience, and “smart cities,” according to a recent NIST news release. n Materials scientists honored by Thomson Reuters and AAAS for contributions to science and society Thomson Reuters recently unveiled its newest annual ranking of the world’s hottest researchers—and more than 35% of those minds are studying materials. According to a Thomson Reuters press release, “the 2015 hottest researchers ranking spotlights the scientific community’s emerging trends and 19 innovators, who recently published at least 14 papers with notably high levels of citations. The list was identified by tabulating citations within the Web of Science recorded during calendar year 2014 for papers published between 2012 and 2014.” Of those 19, seven are scientists studying materials: •Henry J. Snaith, Oxford University; perovskite solar cells; •Michael Grätzel, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne; perovskite solar cells; •David (Xiong Wen) Lou, Nanyang Technological University; energy technologies, including lithium batteries and supercapacitors; •Mohammed K. Nazeeruddin, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne; perovskite solar cells; •Hua Zhang, Nanyang Technological University; nanomaterials, including MOFs, monolayers, and self-assembly; •Yang Yang, University of California, Los Angeles; perovskite solar cells; and •Yi Cui, Stanford University; lithium batteries and catalysts. That puts materials science on equal playing ground with genomics—which also had seven scientists on the list—as 4 www.ceramics.org | American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 95, No. 3 Credit: Mark Miodownik Mark Miodownik has been named by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as its 2015 Public Engagement with Science Award winner.


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