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computer field and have been used in the design of commercial computer-assisted instruction programs. An important application of the computer system developed by Dr. Atkinson has been for teaching reading to elementary school children.
Dr. Atkinson was born March 19, 1929, in Oak Park, Illinois. He earned a bachelor of science degree at the University of Chicago in 1948, and a doctor of philosophy degree at Indiana University in 1955. He has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Education. He has been a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, a recipient of the Distinguished Research Award from the Social Sciences Research Council, and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association. He has been awarded honorary degress by several American universities and holds honorary memberships in a number of foreign societies and academies.
Dr. Atkinson joined the Stanford University faculty in 1956 after military service in the U.S. Army. In addition to being a Professor in the Psychology Department, he holds appointments in the School of Engineering, the School of Education, and the Institute for Mathematical Studies in the Social Sciences.
STATEMENT OF DR. RICHARD C. ATKINSON, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL
Dr. ATKINSON. As I said at the posture hearing last week, the National Science Foundation's role in the support of science has grown considerably during the past 10 years. The growth can be seen in NSF's commitments to both basic and applied research.
Between 1970 and 1980, NSF's portion of federally supported basic research was increased from 14 percent to 25 percent. Similarly, 10 years ago, NSF was responsible for 26 percent of federally supported basic research in the universities. Today, NSF supports 35 percent of all federally supported basic research in the universities.
The Foundation also plays a special role in applied research. We recognize first that each mission agency should pursue research related to the agency's activities. We also feel that certain areas of applied research tend to go uncovered when in the array of mission activities. Consequently, we see a need to keep a window open to new ideas as they arise from basic research-or from other avenues—that can be pursued through applied research. Even though applied research is a small portion of NSF's effort, we see it as a central and important function of the Foundation.
Let me also say that science education has always been central function of the Foundation. We perceive it as a continuing concern of NSF's activities. In our discussions with you this year, we want to review where we have been in science education, our coordination with the new Department of Education, and our plans not only for the fiscal year 1981 program in science education, but also for the long-term future.
NSF's budget for fiscal year 1981 does contain a strong thrust for basic research, a thrust that has characterized several recent budgets of the Foundation. I think the case for such a strong thrust is made in my testimony and elsewhere in the budget documents. I look forward to examining that case with you during these hearings. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Atkinson follows:)
STATEMENT OF DR. RICHARD C. ATKINSON
DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Subcommittee on Science, Research, and Technology
of the Committee on Science & Technology
U.S. House of Representatives
February 5, 1980
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
We enter this decade with a keen awareness that science has a
vital role to play in the years ahead. Our Nation's future is
closely tied to the strength of our scientific enterprise. In such essential areas as food for the world's growing population, new sources of fuel to replace dwindling oil reserves, the fight against disease, and the assurance of national security, we are profoundly dependent on the new knowledge and technologies that grow out of scientific research. Beyond these fundamental concerns, science must provide the technological development necessary to sustain our economy in the face of increasing competition from abroad, and must show us how to protect the life-giving balance of the planet.
Thirty-five years ago the Vannevar Bush report, "Science The Endless Frontier," laid the groundwork for the post-war cooperation between science and government. It is striking to realize how well
it foresaw the needs of today. Its stress on the role of science as
one member of a team, at the same time recognizing that "without
scientific progress no amount of achievement in other directions can
insure our health, prosperity, and security as a nation in the modern
world," is as valid today as it was when it was written. Its call for the Nation to explore the frontiers of science is as imperative today
As we address the needs of the decade ahead, we should consider important past activities in the National Science Foundation which
have influenced the development of the FY 1981 budget. Despite the
inflation of recent years, there has been real growth in the Foundation's research budget during the 1970's, although this has been offset in
many areas by a decline in basic research funding by other Federal
agencies. NSF support has played a major role in many dramatic scientific developments of the 1970's.
• Through the Deep Sea Drilling Project, we have been able to
confirm the theory of plate tectonics and explain the geophysical
history and dynamics of our planet.
- Important progress in the deciphering of the genetic code for
DNA and RNA has led to a ferment of activity in cell biology
In a remarkable expansion in the computer sciences, pure
mathematical theories have been combined with the silicon chip
to advance the solid state technology of high speed computers.
The past 10 years have been a time of extraordinary activity in
science; the pace of discovery has been explosive in many fields. Whole
new fields of science have emerged, while the boundaries separating
others have begun to disappear. Research cutting across disciplinary
lines has increased, a reliable sign of vitality in science, and there
has been a convergence of the sciences of living and non-living matter.
New basic knowledge today often has quite immediate implications for society. Our understanding of the genetic code has great significance for agriculture and medicine, is making possible previously unimagined
industrial technologies, and may even create new energy sources.
Private industry is already engaged in the production of synthetic insulin
and interferon, using recombinant DNA techniques, and similar techniques are being applied to the study of nitrogen fixation in plants. New
knowledge of the earth's crust has laid the basis for further scientific
work in the continental margins, and also has direct and immediate
application to the search for oil. Research on the chemistry of the
upper atmosphere has made us aware of potential long-term changes in the
ozone shield that would have significant consequences for our health and,
ultimately, for life on Earth. With advances in computer and materials
sciences, we are now able to place a complete microcomputer on a single chip a fraction of the size of a thumbnail, while the cost of the chip has
remained almost constant. Still further advances lie ahead, with immediate
relevance to our productivity and international trade.
This drawing together of basic and applied research is not fortuitous.
It reflects the increasing role of science and technology in our life, and
the growing urgency of national problems whose solutions involve science.
It cannot be said that scientific knowledge today consists of dusty reports lying forgotten on a library shelf too many people are eagerly awaiting the latest developments in fundamental knowledge.
These developments in the seventies have been possible because of the Nation's investment in basic science and in the training of scientists. An important part of that investment has been in a remarkable array of instruments, from laboratory spectrometers to radio and infrared telescopes, from picosecond time measuring devices to remote sensing satellites, lasers, and synchrotron radiation facilities, and ever-smaller, faster, and more powerful computers. On both the macro and micro levels, these instruments have given scientists access to new realms of the universe. The seventies have shown us how important this access is to advances in scientific theory and application.
During the seventies it became clear that the links between fundamental research and application were not always automatic, but had
to be monitored and nurtured. NSF's applied research effort was formally
initiated at the beginning of the decade, building on the Foundation's
basic science programs. This effort stressed inter-disciplinary research and cooperation among different types of research performers university, industry, and State and local government. The combination of engineering and applied sciences in a recently-created Engineering and Applied Science Directorate is intended to further stimulate these interactions, the value of which has proved vital to our scientific enterprise.