Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center,
November 9-12, 2016
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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Funding for the activity that led to this publication was provided by the W. M. Keck Foundation. Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. In recent years, the Foundation has focused on science and engineering research; medical research; undergraduate education; and southern California. Each grant program invests in people and programs that are making a difference in the quality of life, now and for the future. For more information visit www.wmkeck.org.
The contents for this publication came out of the activities and discussions held during the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Conference titled Discovering the Deep Blue Sea: Research, Innovation, Social Engagement held at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, California, November 9-12, 2016. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views any organization or agency that provided support for this project. For more information on the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative, visit www.keckfutures.org.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-47219-7
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-47219-9
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/25027
Additional copies of this publication are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.
Copyright 2018 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018.
Discovering the Deep Blue Sea: Research, Innovation, Social Engagement. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/25027.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president.
The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president.
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The National Academies
Keck Futures Initiative
NATIONAL ACADEMIES KECK FUTURES INITIATIVE
The National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) was launched in 2003 with generous support from the W. M. Keck Foundation. It is a 15-year experiment to catalyze interdisciplinary research across the fields of science, engineering, and medicine. NAKFI creates opportunities to cross both disciplinary and professional boundaries, which is of paramount importance in making scientific progress today. Together, the National Academies and the W. M. Keck Foundation believed that advancing this common goal included catalyzing successful communication among the “best and brightest” who otherwise live in different worlds and speak different languages; conducting meetings that surface the best questions; and providing seed grants to bridge the gap between new ideas and sustained funding.
NAKFI is designed to enable scientists from different disciplines to focus on new questions, upon which they can base entirely new research, and to encourage and reward outstanding communication between scientists as well as between the scientific enterprise and the public. NAKFI includes three main components.
NAKFI accomplishes its mission by harnessing the intellectual horsepower of the brightest minds from diverse backgrounds who attend an annual “think-tank” style conference to contemplate the real-world challenges of our day, having been prepared for deep conversations though pre-conference tutorials. Futures conferences are intentionally crafted to allow multiple ways for attendees to interact. Some of the conference components are familiar, such as poster sessions and plenary sessions, but the expected gives way to the unconventional at a Futures conference. The format of Futures conferences evolved from a traditional program of lectures and panel discussions to a meeting focused on providing a variety of venues for conversation. The foundation of this approach is the appointment of conference participants to task groups charged with finding solutions to real-world problems. In addition to working in these concurrent groups—each of which reports on its work mid-way through the conference—participants have many opportunities for informal conversations and collaboration during “free” times and meals.
NAKFI has inspired its diverse network to “think big” at the frontiers of science, engineering, and medicine. This is just the first step in its role as conversation shifter, idea incubator, career changer, and venture science funder.
Futures grants are awarded to conference participants to enable the further pursuit of new ideas and inspirations generated at the conference, conceptualized as “venture science,” similar to start-up capital in the business world.
Futures grants serve as an incentive for attendees to collaborate after the conference and provide resources for start-up research projects. Grants can also be awarded for meetings that explore a facet of Futures conferences in more depth or with a different audience. The grant application process is straightforward and reporting requirements are kept to a minimum. Principal investigators have already been vetted by the conference steering committee for attendance at the conference and the grant selection committee looks for projects with the greatest potential to succeed. NAKFI encourages grantees to learn as they go and to make changes to their research plans as appropriate. Projects that experience unexpected delays or need more time can request a no-cost extension with a simple email explanation. Final reports cover a few key areas of interest to the program and encourage investigators to reflect on what worked, what did not work, and why.
The Communication Awards are designed to recognize, promote, and encourage effective communication of science, engineering, medicine, and/or interdisciplinary work within and beyond the scientific community. Each year the Futures Initiative awards $20,000 prizes to those who have advanced the public’s understanding and appreciation of science, engineering, and/or medicine. The awards are given in four categories: books, film/radio/TV, magazine/newspaper, and online. The winners are honored during a ceremony in the fall in Washington, DC.
Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research Study
During the first 18 months of NAKFI, the National Academies undertook a study on facilitating interdisciplinary research. The study examined the current scope of interdisciplinary efforts and provided recommendations as to how such research can be facilitated by funding organizations and academic institutions. Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research (2005) is available from the National Academies Press (www.nap.edu) in print and free PDF versions.
About the W. M. Keck Foundation
Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of science and engineering research; medical research; undergraduate education; and Southern California. Each grant program invests in people and programs that are making a difference in the quality of life, now and in the future. For more information visit www.wmkeck.org.
National Academies Keck Futures Initiative
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