In DepthPolicy

An optimist takes the helm at NSF

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Science  17 Jul 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6501, pp. 236
DOI: 10.1126/science.369.6501.236

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Summary

The new director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, knows dark political clouds are hanging over the agency. His boss, President Donald Trump, keeps proposing big cuts to NSF's budget. In Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike have lambasted NSF for not doing more to stop the Chinese government from harvesting the fruits of U.S.-funded research. New reports of sexual harassment, including some involving NSF grantees, seem to pop up weekly, and the national outcry over racial inequities has highlighted the chronic underrepresentation of minorities and women in science. Yet the Indian-born computer scientist is unabashedly upbeat about the future of the U.S. academic research community, where he has spent most of his career, as he begins his 6-year term as the 15th director of the $8 billion agency.

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