One of the great strengths of U.S. research is its diversity. Nowhere is this clearer than in AMO science, with its very wide intellectual horizon, its variety of funding sources, and its several modalities available for accomplishing the work.

This discussion of the research profile of AMO science is not complete without a comment about the essential role played by theory. In any discipline where the frontiers are traversed so rapidly, theoretical research is essential—not only to understand what has been observed but also to predict what might be seen next and thereby guide future work. This is especially true in AMO science, where researchers are developing and pursuing dramatic new areas such as ultra-high-field physics, the physics of “sparse” condensed matter systems, the study of the fundamentals of quantum mechanics, and the frontiers of quantum information.

The committee therefore notes with concern that support for AMO theory at NSF has not progressed over the last decade, even while support for experiment has been relatively strong. The size of a single-investigator grant in theory at NSF is far below that at the other agencies (see the following section, Table 8–2, and

TABLE 8–2 Demographics, Success Rates, Turnover, Average Grant Sizes, FY2005

 

AFOSR

ARO

ONR

DOE

NASAa

NISTc

NSF

Awardsb

~24

~20

~30

~55

~45

~5

~135

Seniord

~30

~40

~30

~83

~45

~160

~145

Postdoc

~30

~30

NA

~50

NA

~20

~50

Ph.D.

~6

~10

NA

~30

NA

~5

~40

Graduate students

~30

~50

NA

~100

NA

~30

~200

Undergraduate students

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

~20

~115

Women (%)e

~10

~10

NA

NA

NA

~16

~10

Minorities (%)e

~7

<5

NA

NA

NA

<5

~2

Average grant size (thousand $)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experimental

~125

~140

~150

~137

~150

~100f

~135

Theory

~80

~80

~125

~104

NA

~100f

~60

Success rate (%)g

~30

~40

~40

~34

~35

N/A

~43

Turnover (%)h

~5

~15

~15

~10

NA

N/A

~7

NOTE: Personnel numbers include both experimental and theory. Owing to the high variability and interdisciplinarity of its programs from year to year, DARPA was not included in this table.

aNASA data include the Laboratory Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences programs.

bAwards from NIST are solicited by the agency.

cNumber of grants in place.

dNumber of senior investigators supported.

ePercentages of the supported investigator pool represented by women or minorities.

fFunding per scientist at NIST labs not including overhead, depreciation, and operating expenses.

gPercentage of proposals funded out of those submitted; many ideas for proposals are “declined” before a submission.

hThe rate at which new people enter the program.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement