This weekend I was in Washington, D.C., for the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences. Among the various events at this meeting was an address to the Academy by President Obama this morning on several major science and education policy initiatives, including some already announced in the economic stimulus package and draft federal budget, and some carried over from the previous administration. (I myself missed the address, though, as I had to return back to LA to teach.) Among the initiatives stated were the creation of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E), modeled on DARPA (and recommended by the NAS); a significant increase in funding to the NSF and related agencies (which was committed to by the Bush administration, but not yet implemented; this is distinct from the one-time funding from the stimulus package discussed in this previous post), leading in particular to a tripling in the number of NSF graduate research fellowships; and a “race to the top” fund administered by the Department of Education to provide incentives for states to improve their quality of maths and science education, among other goals. Some of these initiatives may not survive the budgetary process, of course, but it does seem that there is both symbolic and substantive support for science and education at the federal level.
[Update, Apr 28: Another event at the meeting is the announcement of the new membership of the Academy for 2009. In mathematics, the new members include Alice Chang, Percy Deift, John Morgan, and Gilbert Strang; congratulations to all four, of course.]