Defense, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and oversight of the Department’s laboratories.
On behalf of the National Science Board, I thank the Committee for its long-term support for science and engineering research and education activities, which have contributed so substantially to our Nation’s well being.
The National Science Board has two statutory roles: to serve as the governing board of the National Science Foundation, and to advise the Congress and the President on national policy issues for science and engineering research and education.
Today, my comments will focus on the Board’s role as governing board of the Foundation, specifically on our oversight and approval of the Foundation’s support for large-scale research facilities.
First, I would like to emphasize that the Foundation has an excellent record—spanning 50 years—of supporting such facilities, in terms of both the quality of their research and their management. Today, NSF invests over $1 billion annually in facilities and other infrastructure projects. With the exception of U.S. research facilities in the Antarctic, which are directly operated by the National Science Foundation, NSF typically makes awards to other organizations for the construction and operation of facilities.
The following are examples of major facilities:
The Large Hadron Collider is a superconducting particle accelerator. Its purpose is to help scientists advance the fundamental understanding of matter. The Collider’s construction and operations are funded through an international collaboration.
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, will allow physicists and engineers to collaborate to test the dynamic features of Einstein’s theory of gravity and to study the properties of intense gravitational fields.
The National Astronomy Center in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, supports observations in radio and radar astronomy and atmospheric sciences.
Research facilities at the South Pole Station, currently under renovation, support a variety of diverse but important research activities that can only be conducted in the unique cold and pristine environment at the South Pole.
The Ocean Drilling Program, involving 20 countries, supports research in areas including deep ocean structures, hydrology and geo-chemical cycles.
These five examples are all major research facilities. For the most part, they are the research instruments that make possible research advances that can be accomplished in no other way. They are all large; each one