MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXI No. 5
Summer 2009
A New Commitment to Science and Technology R&D
The Role of Oceans in Climate Change
A New Method for Negotiating
Arms Control Agreements
The Science We Need and the
Needs of Science
System at a Crossroads: Rethinking Infrastructure and Mobility
Energy Transitions and Transformations
Society's Nervous System: A Key to Effective Government, Energy Efficiency, and Public Health
An Alternate Green Initiative
Rotten Apples or a Rotting Barrel: How Not to Understand the Current Financial Crisis
The Way to Sustainability
Making the Web Work for Science
A Note to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu
Budget of the United States Government (2005-2010): Outlays by Selected Agencies
Budget of the United States Government (2009-2014): Outlays by Selected Agencies
Budget of the United States Government (1962-2010): Percentage Distribution of Outlays by Selected Agencies
Printable Version


A New Commitment to Science and Technology R&D


The Obama administration has refreshing support for a renewal of investment in science and engineering. The appointments of Steven Chu, John Holdren, and Jane Lubchenko represent excellent choices. The immediate commitment of significant amounts of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds to NIH, NSF, DOE, and other research and development (R&D) agencies is encouraging. The new administration has eliminated barriers to stem cell research, expanded opportunities for international cooperation among scientists, and promised that science would not be subverted for political gains. We applaud all of these efforts.

This is the first in a series of issues in which the Faculty Newsletter is publishing diverse articles from MIT faculty members on areas of R&D in science, engineering, and economics that are key to socioeconomic progress and raising the global standard of living.

In this issue, we cover a range of issues including environmental science, nuclear disarmament, transportation infrastructure, cleaner energy, and more. The next issue will carry articles on biomedical research, chemistry and chemical engineering, science education, and social aspects of globalization.

The articles are not intended to represent an “MIT point of view” or a consistent policy formulation, but rather the clear views and visions of a variety of knowledgeable and concerned faculty. Undoubtedly, other faculty would have other points of emphasis, and will disagree on some of the points. We hope that the articles stimulate further discussion and dialogue and help launch a new period of optimism and excitement among our students and colleagues throughout the nation.

Science and technology have had enormous societal impacts over the past century. Advances in agriculture, transportation, computation, telecommunications, medicine, and pharmaceuticals have been primary driving forces behind the rising quality of life and increased prosperity for many. However, our world is facing important challenges such as the possibility of catastrophic climate changes with the resulting need to find cleaner energy sources. Although R&D in science and technology cannot, by itself, solve global issues, it is an absolutely necessary component of the solutions.

We encourage all scientists and engineers to use this window of opportunity to take part in discussions on how science and technology can enhance human conditions for future generations. Please send all submissions to or contact any member of the Newsletter Editorial Board.

Editorial Sub-Committee
Nazli Choucri
Jonathan King
Fred Moavenzadeh
James Orlin

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