Opinion

''America's young scientists at risk''

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"The Dec. 10 awards ceremony in Stockholm celebrates the 2010 Nobel Prize winners and the ability of curiosity-driven men and women to open doors on previously undiscovered areas of knowledge. But it comes on the heels of a disturbing recent report from the National Academies of Sciences warning that the United States is continuing to slide toward relinquishing its position as the world's top innovator.

That accolade instead seems to be shifting to other nations, particularly in Asia, that are making the necessary investments in science and engineering education and research that drive so much of the world's economy.

Rising Above The Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5 provides a troubling sequel to an influential 2005 study, which called for action and investment in 20 specific areas of science, math and engineering education, research and science and technology policy. But as the hurricane metaphor in the report's title broadcasts, our nation is more at risk than ever: "It would appear that overall the United States' long-term competitiveness outlook (read jobs) has further deteriorated," according to the blue-ribbon panel that prepared the new analysis.

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These challenging budgetary times, however, require innovation in how we support our country's young scientists and engineers at points in their professional lives when they often are the most creative. We need new approaches not just from government but also by the private sector and philanthropic community."

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