August 21, 2015

The Honorable Cory Gardner
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
512 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Gary Peters
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
254 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Gardner and Peters,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input regarding the scientific community's priorities for the reauthorization for the America COMPETES Act.

Scientific research is an important engine that powers our nation's economic growth. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the federal agency that supports the fundamental scientific research that is the foundation upon which we build knowledge and inspire innovation. Through competitive, peer-reviewed research grants, the NSF funds discoveries that will help to solve the most challenging problems facing society. NSF research, education, and training programs lead to new patents, prepare a highly skilled workforce, and stimulate the creation of new jobs. Many of the groundbreaking ideas that have enhanced the nation's economic competitiveness or improved the quality of our lives have grown from NSF-funded research.

These efforts, however, require a sustained federal investment. Unpredictable annual swings in federal funding disrupt research programs, create uncertainty in the research community, and stall the development of the next great idea. Funding for basic research has been stagnant in recent years, particularly when adjusted for inflation. Given the importance of research and development to our economic growth and global competitiveness, Congress should make new, multi-year investments in NSF.

We encourage the Committee to pursue a reauthorization bill that builds on the following principles:

  • NSF should maintain its focus on fundamental discovery. The agency's mission should not be driven towards commercial outcomes.
  • Reauthorization of the NSF should outline a path for new investments. Sustained growth in funding is needed for programs that support basic research and science education.
  • Congress should recognize the unique role of NSF as the only agency supporting the full breadth of scientific research and education.
  • Congress should not pick winners and losers among NSF research programs. The National Science Board and leadership of the NSF must retain the authority and nimbleness to allocate funding among the disciplines.
  • Legislation should support the existing merit review system. NSF's peer review system has a proven track record of supporting high quality research that advances our knowledge and leads to solutions for the challenges facing modern society.

Again, we thank you for your leadership on this issue and hope that this and other science-related legislation might move through the Senate in a bipartisan way.


Robert Gropp, Ph.D.
Interim Co-Executive Director
American Institute of Biological Sciences
Scott M. Lanyon, Ph.D.
American Ornithologists' Union
Ellen Bergfeld, Ph.D.
American Society of Agronomy
Larry G. Allen, Ph.D.
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Eileen A. Lacey, Ph.D.
American Society of Mammalogists
Mark Siddall, Ph.D.
American Society of Parasitologists
Julian I. Schroeder, Ph.D.
American Society of Plant Biologists
Patrick Herendeen, Ph.D.
American Society of Plant Taxonomists
Marilyn A. Norconk, Ph.D.
American Society of Primatologists
Olin E. Rhodes, Jr., Ph.D.
Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
Christopher Beck, Ph.D.
Association for Biology Laboratory Education
James Elser, Ph.D.
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
Robin L. Chazdon, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Leonard Krishtalka, Ph.D.
Biodiversity Institute, The University of Kansas
Richard Olmstead, Ph.D.
Botanical Society of America
Kenneth L. Heck, Jr., Ph.D.
Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation
Martin G. Raphael, Ph.D.
Cooper Ornithological Society
Ellen Bergfeld, Ph.D.
Crop Science Society of America
Monica G. Turner, Ph.D.
Ecological Society of America
Phillip G. Mulder, Jr., Ph.D.
Entomological Society of America
Jasper Rine, Ph.D.
Genetics Society of America
James Hanken, Ph.D.
Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology
Peter English, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Human Anatomy and Physiology Society
Andreas Zedrosser, Ph.D.
Acting President
International Organization for Bear Research and Management
Susan J. Weller, Ph.D.
Executive Director
James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History and Planetarium
Robert B. Waide, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Long Term Ecological Research Network
Joseph A. Cook, Ph.D.
Museum Director
Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico
Georgiana May, Ph.D.
Mycological Society of America
Nancy Rabalais, Ph.D.
National Association of Marine
Larry Page, Ph.D.
Natural Science Collections Laboratories Alliance
Sarah D. Oktay, Ph.D.
Organization of Biological Field Stations
Steven M. Holland, Ph.D.
Paleontological Society
Frederick W. Zechman, Ph.D.
Phycological Society of America
David J. Caldwell, Ph.D.
Poultry Science Association
Michael Mares, Ph.D.
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
Luke J. Swetland
President and CEO
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Greg Schiefer
Executive Director
Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry of North America
Byron Adams, Ph.D.
Society of Nematologists
John A. Long, Ph.D.
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Kimberli Ponzio
Society of Wetland Scientists
Elizabeth Adkins-Regan, Ph.D.
Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
Cassandra L. Quave, Ph.D.
Society for Economic Botany
Peter Wainwright, Ph.D.
Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
Santiago Schnell, Ph.D.
Society for Mathematical Biology
Andrew Bentley
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections
Aaron M. Bauer, Ph.D.
Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
Ellen Bergfeld, Ph.D.
Soil Science Society of America
Gregory Long
Chief Executive Officer
The New York Botanical Garden
Janet Franklin, Ph.D.
US Regional Association of the InternationalAssociation for Landscape Ecology

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