The nation’s water infrastructure is in a truly dire state; with a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers, it is time for an update. Last week, the House and Senate held hearings to address this issue. The House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment focused on the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). Chairman Garret Graves (LA-6) said the Corps has an “absolutely critical mission,” which centers around building and maintaining infrastructure that bolsters the economy while integrating environmental sustainability. However, both sides of the aisle were concerned with the Corps’ backlog of unfinished projects and lack of implementation guidance for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (P.L.113-121) and the Water Resources Development Act of 2016.
On Thursday evening, in the packed foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building, people lined up to try on 3D outer space goggles, explore cutting-edge stream water models, and meet the brilliant scientific minds who worked on these projects.
Hurricanes this century have cost thousands of Americans their lives and billions of dollars in damage; Hurricane Katrina alone killed 1,833 people and cost the government $108 billion. Weather forecasting is of utmost importance to save lives, property, and money, especially in light of the changing climate. In a hearing held by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Environment, scientists and professionals in the environmental technology industry discussed the potential for public-private partnerships to strengthen weather forecasting and to improve oceanic data collection.
When most people enter a hiking trail with several days’ worth of food, they’re at the start of a camping adventure. For residents of Big Sur, California, they’re making one of many weekly trips back from the grocery store. Four months ago, a mudslide collapsed a bridge, making the small hiking path the only access to the outside world for much of Big Sur.
“Not long ago, Google and Uber were nouns and verbs yet to be discovered, and Amazon was a rainforest in South America,” declared Chairman John Barrasso (WY) in his opening statement to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He went on to explain the idea behind the hearing, which was to examine new solutions to control invasive species and to promote wildlife conservation. He stressed that innovation has transformed nearly every sector of the economy and that conservation should be no exception.
While students around the country were recalling organic chemistry processes and physics formulas during their end-of-semester exams last Friday, Congress was also at work. Following in the Senate’s footsteps, the House passed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084), a reauthorization of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology Education and Science Act of 2007, or America COMPETES, which was last reauthorized in 2010. The 2016 bill outlines policies for the National Science Foundation (NSF); the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); and other federal science and innovation programs, including science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs.
Instead of sitting quietly at a desk with a pencil and notebook, schoolchildren are now encouraged to explore virtual ecosystems through an online game, build their own website, or propose and conduct an experiment. Technology and innovation are helping education become more interactive, engaging, creative, and hands-on in the 21st century, and improving literacy in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has become increasing important to prepare the next generation of America’s workforce.
With less than an hour to go before the continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government expired last Friday, Congress passed an extension through April 28th, narrowly averting a government shutdown. Responding to the president-elect’s request for input on Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations, the stopgap measure pushes appropriations decisions until after President-elect Trump is sworn in.
A teacher in Boise checks his weather app and packs an umbrella while a Miami businesswoman decides to work from home because the local news announces her usual route to work is flooded. What do these two have in common? The information they rely on for their daily activities depends on observational data from the ocean. Some ocean observations provide real-time results, but others must be continuously collected for years before significant patterns and changes can be detected and analyzed. Due to the vital importance of observing systems to the benefit of our nation’s economy, national security, and scientific enterprise, the National Academy of Science’s Ocean Studies Board ad hoc observations committee held a two-day workshop to hear expert opinions on ocean observation systems as they draft a report prioritizing imperative ocean variables for climate research.
What do that MRI you had after damaging your knee while running, knowing whether to bring an umbrella to work, and antifreeze in Antarctic fish have in common?MRIs, the Doppler radar, and the identification of “antifreeze” glycoproteins in Antarctic fish were made possible through research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In addition to its 66-year history of promoting scientific progress, the NSF funds 24 percent of federally-supported research at colleges and universities across the nation. The 24-member National Science Board (NSB) leads NSF and meets five times per year, most recently on November 8 and 9. NSF Director Dr. France Córdova opened the meeting by touting some of the agency’s monumental successes in 2016, including six NSF-supported scientists winning Nobel Prizes and 213 teachers being awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.