In the January 2009 issue of BioScience, Robert Gropp reports on the Obama transition and some of the potential implications for the nation’s science policy agenda. To read this and other columns for free, please go to An excerpt from “Nothing Average About Change” follows:

On 4 November 2008, a long, expensive, and unprecedented general election finally concluded. By the next morning, one would have been hard-pressed to find a field biologist even in the most remote locale who had not learned of the historically significant election result: Barack Obama had been elected the nation’s 44th president. Yet the outcome of the presidential race was only part of the November news. A steadily worsening economy and significant election wins for Democratic candidates for the US House and Senate garnered headlines and refocused the nation’s political and public policy priorities.

As the economy continued its downturn after the November election, historians, political analysts, and other professional and amateur Washington, DC, pundits drew parallels between the conditions facing Barack Obama and those of the Great Depression era that occupied Franklin D. Roosevelt. Clearly, the combination of geopolitical instability (i.e., wars in Iraq and Afghan­istan) and an economic recession presents great challenges to President-elect Obama and to the new 111th Congress, which must work to reach compromise on significant legislative initiatives while holding together a Democratic majority that is untested and susceptible to fragmentation on some issues.

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