National Science Board Held Quarterly Oversight Meeting

On February 23rd and 24th, the National Science Board (NSB) held their quarterly oversight meeting.

National Science Foundation (NSF) leadership and staff presented on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) efforts, with updates on a range of NSF programs. In 2021, NSF’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion was reorganized and renamed the Office of Equity and Civil Rights, tasked with internal and external broadening participation programs. As part of President Biden’s Executive Order on DEIA in the Federal Workforce, NSF will submit their internally focused DEIA Strategic Plan by the March 23, 2022 deadline. Externally-focused reports in compliance with the Equity Executive Orders have been submitted to relevant government initiatives such as the White House Gender Policy Council.

Dr. Alicia Knoedler, Director of the NSF Office of Integrative Activities, presented on the agency’s efforts to broaden participation through research, education, research infrastructure, outreach/in-reach, and partnerships. She highlighted the core programs that are driving their broadening participation initiative in each area. On-going activities include defining accountability activities on DEIA and engaging broader populations of experts and innovators to continue NSF’s mission.

The Board also heard from Dr. Stephanie Tomkins, Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). She spoke about NSF’s work to take DARPA funded projects a step forward in innovation using the story of the internet to highlight the benefits of NSF and DARPA collaboration. During the 1960s, DARPA created ARPA-Net, a network for sharing digital resources among geographically separated computers focused on national security. NSF built on ARPA-Net, creating their own conceptual project called NSF-Net in which NSF further advanced the technology through research and grant funds to provide signal-to-signal communication amongst academic institutions – all of which were pivotal for the development of the internet.

The NSB Committee on National Science and Engineering Policy elevated the NSF “State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2022” report. As part of a series of thematic reports, NSF recently published data on “Higher Education in Science and Engineering.” The report identifies trends over time and comparisons to other nations. The committee hopes to soon release a new report highlighting the financial barriers that students face in attaining graduate and doctoral degrees in STEM, an issue for which members of the Board expressed particular enthusiasm.