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ASPB Member Testifies In Support Of National Science Foundation

March 16, 2011

Elizabeth Hood appears before House Appropriations CJS Subcommittee

Plant biologist Elizabeth Hood, PhD, testified on behalf of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. Hood, who is a member of ASPB’s Public Affairs Committee, spoke in support of funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the $7.767 billion requested for fiscal year 2012. While recognizing the difficult fiscal environment faced by the nation, Hood’s testimony emphasized that investments in scientific research will be a critical step toward sustained economic recovery.

Hood mentioned that the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences is a critical source of funding for scientific research, providing 68 percent of the federal support for non-medical basic life sciences research at U.S. academic institutions. “Despite the fact that basic plant biology research””the kind of research funded by the NSF””underpins so many vital practical considerations, the amount invested in understanding the basic function and mechanisms of plants is relatively small when compared with the impact plants have on our economy and in addressing some of the nation’s most urgent challenges such as food and energy security.”

Among the high impact programs supported by NSF is the Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP), which has laid a strong scientific research foundation for understanding plant genomics as it relates to energy (biofuels), health (including nutrition and functional foods), agriculture (such as the impact of changing climates on agronomic ecosystems), and the environment (plants’ roles as primary producers in ecosystems). Hood asked that PGRP be restored as a separate line within the NSF budget, as in years past, and be funded at the highest possible level.

Hood also spoke in support of NSF’s career and workforce development programs””including graduate traineeships, fellowships, and career transition awards””as well NSF’s diversity programs and the research the agency supports on teaching and learning.

Hood is Distinguished Professor of Agriculture at Arkansas State University. ASPB’s complete written testimony may be found at <http://bit.ly/e9RftK>.

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