In the December 2009 issue of BioScience, Robert Gropp writes about two new reports, and a growing call within the biological science community to develop disciplinary research while improving interdisciplinary communication. An excerpt from the article follows, but the complete article (along with prior Washington Watch columns) may be viewed for free at

For some time, biologists have argued that a greater federal investment in biological research and education is required to move science forward and solve urgent societal problems. Arguably, this call has been heard, but a response has been muted by the lack of a clear articulation of need from the scientific community. However, recent efforts from within the community suggest that biologists might be attempting to define plans that will advance science and solve real-world problems. “Plants are central to the future of scientific discovery, human well-being, and the sustainable use and preservation of the world’s natural resources,” says Andrea Kramer, executive director of the US Office of Botanical Gardens Conservation International.
Yet, Kramer and others warn that federal agencies have failed to make investments in research and training that will drive discovery and inform decision-making. Kramer and colleagues recently convened academic scientists, government managers, and representatives from non-governmental organizations. The meeting, held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, assessed the nation’s botanical capacity.

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