Scientific societies and research foundations plan to set up a lobbying body in Washington to boost public support for investment in the physical sciences, mathematics and engineering.
Impressed by the success of Research!America, a society that lobbies for the life sciences, various scientific bodies have provided around $100,000 with which to prepare a business plan. The interim director of the body is to be Merrilea Mayo, a materials scientist from Pennsylvania State University.
The attempt to establish the as-yet-unnamed outfit has been spearheaded by Mary Good, a professor at the University of Arkansas and former under-secretary of technology at the commerce department in President Bill Clinton's administration. The physical sciences, says Good, “need a continuous presence” in Washington. “We need to have the community speak with one voice, instead of 30 or 40.”
Those involved in the effort say the precise role of the new body has yet to be defined, and that its success will depend on how much support it can attract from sectors of industry that want the federal government to invest more in the physical sciences.