The National Science Foundation has requested a 13.6 percent budget increase--an additional $800 million--to fund research in the physical sciences. For fiscal year 2009 the additional $800 million--for a total budget of nearly $7 billion--would be spearheaded by 20 percent hikes for research in the STEM areas.
The budget emphasizes investment in new knowledge and talent while also maintaining support for existing research efforts that advance the frontiers of discovery and ensure that the U.S. remains a leader in science and technology. NSF Director Arden L. Bement Jr. indicated that "More than a dozen major studies have now concluded that a substantial increase in federal funding for basic scientific research is critical to ensure the preeminence of America's scientific and technological enterprise."
In FY 2009, the NSF envisions that one of the main activities in its Education and Human Resources Directorate would be to enrich the education of science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers. Major activities associated with this endeavor include financial support of the Math and Science Partnership program (up $2.5 million to $51 million) and the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program (up $800,000 to $11.6 million).
Funding for Graduate Research fellowships in FY 2009 would increase by $29 million (or 30 percent) to $125 million. This would support about 3,075 fellows, an increase of 700 over the FY 2008 level. The GRF program recognizes the growing significance of a changing global environment for scientists and engineers, and stresses increased opportunities for students to expand their knowledge of research and education in other nations.
Funding for the Office of International Science and Engineering would increase by nearly 15 percent to $47 million. A major focus in FY 2009 is the Partnerships for International Research and Education program, who’s funding would increases by 25 percent to $15 million. This program funds innovative, international collaborative research projects that link U.S. institutions and researchers at all career levels, with premier international collaborators to work at the most promising frontiers of new knowledge.
The America COMPETES Act of 2007, said the NSF, underscored the need to strengthen the nation's science and engineering workforce, placing special emphasis on improving opportunities for scientists and engineers at the beginning of their careers. Therefore, the support of the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program--the NSF's flagship program for young faculty--increases by over $14 million to $182 million. Other activities that traditionally involve young faculty--the Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program (REU) and Research in Undergraduate Institutions Program (RUI)--also receive increased funding.
The FY 2009 request includes what the NSF calls four major cross-foundation investments that aim to have a significant impact across science and engineering, especially in such areas of national priority as manufacturing, computing, energy, cybersecurity, sensors and materials.
More information is available at: nsf.gov.