|Issue of the Day Archive for the ‘Research’ Category|
The national education goals call for U.S. students to be first in the world in science and mathematics, so therefore developing and maintaining students’ skills in science and engineering has long been a priority for the department of education. Recently, President Obama stated in his speech given to school children, “What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.”
Many skills are in great demand, but some companies are moving to locations or setting up facilities overseas where there are large numbers of trained personnel. Further, the share of recent science and engineering graduates taking government and academic positions is decreasing while industrial positions are increasing.
Those recent graduates who have graduated with science and engineering degrees have shrunk from 62% to 57%. The majority of them are male, up to 74%; females equal 26%. The section of greatest growth consists of 17% foreign students.
Recovery Act Offers New Opportunities for Grant Seekers
Published Monday, August 10th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Education has conducted an analysis of 41 audits and 13 investigations that took place during 2003-2009. The data suggest that there are various weaknesses in the administration of grants by state and local education agencies. Due to the Recovery Act, agencies will receive increases in funding, and the OIG has recommended that Departments enhance the guidance or grant requirements, fraud awareness and prevention.
Also, a new feature on www.grants.gov will help users find and apply for all grant funding available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This includes a series of webinars and links including topics like Introduction to Grants.gov and the Recovery Act, Finding Recovery Act Opportunities and Registration to Submit Recovery Act Opportunities. All in an effort to release Recovery funding quicker and create jobs faster.
Federal research and grant funding for all but the life sciences and engineering have remained relatively steady since 1980, increasing only with the rate of inflation. The life sciences have gained the most and had spiked after 2000 to reach $30 billion as of 2004, declining to $27 billion in 2007. The engineering sector has not lost any steam, gaining in the last 10 years to hit $10 billion. With the Recovery Act, many fields will see more funding, although it will be a while before the figures are published and results are analyzed.
Launch Failure is Second for U.S. Rocket Taurus XL
Published Thursday, February 26th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
Early morning Tuesday, NASA failed to launch a satellite that would have monitored greenhouse gases to study how they affect the world’s climate. Specifically, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) would have helped pinpoint the key locations on our planet’s surface where CO2 is being emitted and absorbed. The OCO satellite would have helped make more accurate predictions of future climate change. Officials said that the fairing—the part of the rocket which covers the satellite on top of the launcher—had not separated properly, and the spacecraft crashed into the ocean near Antarctica. The multi-national mission, costing $270 million, was launched on a Taurus XL, which has been used 8 times with 6 successes and 2 failures including this launch. NASA intends to launch another carbon monitoring satellite named Glory later this year but not without learning from this launch failure.
National research and development expenditures—for such satellites and launch equipment—as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product have been hovering around 2.6-2.7% since 1984. Since 1989, Japan has spent a higher percentage than the US, with Germany also briefly exceeding all other countries. The US has received on average 46% of the worlds Commercial Space revenues, satellites and services plus launching equipment, but in 2001 that percentage fell to 26%, remaining so ever since.
This week in Denver, the President signed the $787 billion stimulus package that streaked its way through Congress. The final bill is split into 36% for tax cuts and 64% percent in spending and money for social programs. Overall, it is $38 billion different from the original plan President Obama had introduced earlier in January. Highlights include:
• $787 billion total, $38 billion subtracted from original
• $308 billion in total spending, $142 billion subtracted (Federal Budget)
• $190 billion in Federal Aid for Education, Public Safety, Low-income, Individual and Health Care (Number of U.S. citizens below the poverty level)
• $288 billion in tax relief ($800—down from $1000—tax cuts for families, $400 tax cuts for individuals through social security payroll deductions, Business, Manufacturing, Economy, Infrastructure, Energy and other tax cuts), $13 billion added (Tax as a percentage of GDP)
• $48 billion for infrastructure, $42 billion subtracted (Spending on infrastructure)
• $90 billion Medicaid aid to states, $3 billion added (Public and private expenditures for health care)
• $53.6 billion to aid state in education, $25.4 billion subtracted
(Spending for the Department of Education)
• $44.6 billion for additional school funding to balance education budgets, prevent cutbacks and modernize schools, $3.6 billion added (Average finances by school district size and Higher education spending)
• $45 billion to encourage renewable energy production, $9 billion subtracted
(Non-Renewable v. Renewable)
• $18.6 billion for health care technology incentives and research for effective treatments, $5.4 billion subtracted (Cost per patient per day and per stay)
• $16 billion for Science/technology, equal (Research funds for science and technology)
• $15.6 billion to increase Pell Grants by $500, $0.6 billion added
Of course, this is just the combined highlights; the Stimulus and Recovery Act is well over 1,000 pages long. The administration, in an effort to become more tranparent, has set up a site in which anyone can track how and where the money is being spent: www.recovery.gov
Last night, the US House of Representatives passed its version of President Obama’s Stimulus package. The original package-as of January 15th-before the House debated and changed the bill, contained the following provisions:
• $825 billion total
• $550 billion in new spending. (Federal Budget)
• $275 billion in tax relief ($1,000 tax cut for families, $500 tax cut for individuals through SS payroll deductions). (Tax as a percentage of GDP)
• $ 90 billion for infrastructure (Spending on infrastructure)
• $ 87 billion Medicaid aid to states. (Numbers of enrollees)
• $ 79 billion school districts/public colleges to prevent cutbacks. (Average finances by school district size)
• $ 41 billion for additional school funding ($14 billion for school modernizations and repairs, $13 billion for Title I, $13 billion for IDEA special education funding, $1 billion for education technology) (Spending for the Department of Education)
• $ 54 billion to encourage energy production from renewable sources (Non-Renewable v. Renewable)
• $ 24 billion for “health information technology to prevent medical mistakes, provide better care to patients and introduce cost-saving efficiencies” and “to provide for preventative care and to evaluate the most effective health care treatments.” (Cost per patient per day and per stay)
• $ 16 billion for science/technology ($10 billion for science facilities, research, and instrumentation; $6 billion to expand broadband to rural areas). (Research funds for science and technology)
• $ 15 billion to increase Pell grants by $500 (Rising tuition)
• $ 6 billion for “higher education modernization.” (Higher education Spending)
The World Health Organization has issued the World Health Care Report for 2008, renewing calls for Primary Health Care reform. The report stated that globalization has put a strain on health care systems. Universal coverage, service delivery, public policy, and leadership reforms are all areas the World Health Organization wants to improve upon in the next decade. The trends in health care specialization, short term disease control, and laissez-faire governance has allowed inequitable access to proper health care systems around the world, the report observed.
According the the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the US spends a total of 15.3% of its Gross Domestic Product on Health Care expenditures annually for both public and private care. The next highest spender is Switzerland at 11.6%. As for Health Care Insurance coverage, the US is the developed world’s third worst after Turkey and Mexico, with 59.2% with private care, 27.3% on the public care, and 13.5% with no health care coverage at all. The US has an infant mortality rate of 6.9 out of 1,000, a few tenths worse than the world’s average, and life expectancy of 77.2, again slightly below average.
In the News, doctors in Spain have carried out the world’s first ever tissue-engineered whole organ for transplant by using a patients own stem cells gathered from bone marrow from the patient’s hip. Before, at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, a similar procedure used donor and recipient stem cells. The procedure, if successful, will become the standard procedure for damaged windpipes. The growth of a tissue and cartilage structure is a milestone, but as Dr. Allan Kirk of the American Society of Transplantation stated, “constructing an entire organ is still a long way off.”
Stem cell research in the U.S. has not taken off like it has in other countries like Spain and the United Kingdom where most of the historic operation’s proceedures took place. The U.S. had imposed a ban in 1996 on any research that harms human embryos. Funding for embryotic stem cell research has been banned by the federal government since 2001, yet, some states such as California are funding embryotic stem cell research without federal funds. The only federal research funds allowed are for the 60 embryotic stem cell lines already created by 2001 and as a compromise, some $250 Million for adult stem cell research was issued. Federal funding for Stem cell research has multiplied 5 times since, from 1998 at $123 Million to $654 Million in 2007, with a great leap forward after 2001.
As Endeavor launches again, we are reminded of President Bush’s 2004 issue of a mission to land on the moon by 2020. The time line, designed by NASA and other Space Administrations who are partners in the International Space Station, states that by 2015 a new manned spacecraft, Orion, will be carrying crews to Earth’s orbit. By 2020, Orion will be paired with the lunar lander Altair. By the end of 2020 the astronauts will land on the dusty moon for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. The plan includes architecture for further human presence on the Moon and further exploration to Mars and beyond. This is a real program, as NASA puts it, contractors have been chosen, metal is being cut, and most important, money has been allocated.
NASA’s budget, according to President Bush’s plan will not be raised but will come from the retirement of outdated shuttles which will free up $3-4 billion without increasing the budget. And unlike the first drive to the Moon, the private sector has been mostly left out of the budget equation as NASA looks to keep a majority of the project in-house. Historically, the first luner landing was meet with an increadible increase in the program’s budget from 2%-74% of the overall Defense Budget which translates to $115 Million in 1959 to $5,275 Million in 1966, the percentage has fallen ever since. Currently, NASA’s budget is at $9,408 Million but its percentage of the Defense Budget (11%) is no where near the last luner project’s priority.