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Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences (2001)

Chapter: Appendix A: Letter of Solicitation

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Letter of Solicitation." National Research Council. 2001. Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9975.
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Appendix A

Letter of Solicitation

GRAND CHALLENGES IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES: SEEKING INPUT

FEBRUARY 1, 1999

A new committee of the United States National Research Council (Committee on Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences) has been asked by the National Science Foundation to identify and prioritize grand challenges in environmental sciences that are likely to be relevant over the next 10-30 years. The committee would like advice from the scientific community and others. The idea is to describe a few grand challenges that appear to have the greatest scientific importance, research potential, and practical value. The definition of environmental sciences is broad, including the natural sciences, the social sciences, and engineering. A description of the project's scope and a list of committee members with brief biographical sketches will be available on the Web at < www.nas.edu/gces > as soon as this Web site is complete, about February 8, 1999.

The committee invites submission of ideas for grand challenges in environmental sciences; it will use those ideas to help it in its task, and anticipates inviting some respondents to a future workshop for more extended discussions. The time and place of the workshop will be announced on the committee's Web site.

The committee considers that any grand challenge must be compelling to scientists and the public, must require a sustained research effort, and must be

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Letter of Solicitation." National Research Council. 2001. Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9975.
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intellectually exciting. Beyond that, we ask you to provide the following information about your candidate grand challenge:

  1. A one-sentence summary that will quickly convey your idea to a broad audience.

  2. A narrative description of the challenge.

  3. Evaluation of the challenge in terms of all the following criteria that are relevant to your idea:

    • Scientific payoff.

    • Practical payoff (i.e., help in solving environmental problems).

    • Feasibility (likelihood that valuable results would be produced over the next ten years).

    • The need for interdisciplinary collaboration, especially if it builds capacity for dealing with other challenges.

    • Research resources available or needed, including infrastructure such as new technology or information systems.

    • The ability of existing institutions to support the research effort.

We encourage you to think broadly and to provide ideas that make connections among the sciences and between science and practical needs. The committee will begin to consider suggestions on February 26, 1999 and suggestions will be most useful if they are received by then. However, it is likely that suggestions received even as late as the beginning of May will be at least of some help to the committee. We ask for your suggestions, preferably by email to GCES@NAS.EDU . Please also provide your name, your affiliation (if any), your email address, your mailing address, and your telephone number.

We ask you to keep your suggestion to a maximum of one printed page. You may use the email address provided above for questions about our committee and our process as well as for your suggestions. You can also find information on the committee's activities and its report on its Web site.

We look forward to receiving your suggestions. We also encourage you to share this message with colleagues who may be interested.

Committee on Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences

National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council

Room HA-354

2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Washington DC 20418

U.S.A.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Letter of Solicitation." National Research Council. 2001. Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9975.
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Page 89
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Letter of Solicitation." National Research Council. 2001. Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9975.
×
Page 90
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Scientists have long sought to unravel the fundamental mysteries of the land, life, water, and air that surround us. But as the consequences of humanity’s impact on the planet become increasingly evident, governments are realizing the critical importance of understanding these environmental systems—and investing billions of dollars in research to do so. To identify high-priority environmental science projects, Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences explores the most important areas of research for the next generation. The book’s goal is not to list the world’s biggest environmental problems. Rather it is to determine areas of opportunity that—with a concerted investment—could yield significant new findings. Nominations for environmental science’s “grand” challenges were solicited from thousands of scientists worldwide.

Based on their responses, eight major areas of focus were identified—areas that offer the potential for a major scientific breakthrough of practical importance to humankind, and that are feasible if given major new funding. The book further pinpoints four areas for immediate action and investment.

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