The American Mathematical Society (AMS) appreciates the opportunity to submit written testimony in support of fiscal year 2020 appropriations for the National Science Foundation (NSF)
The NSF is the key funding agency for the mathematical sciences. Most mathematics research is done by Ph.D. mathematicians at universities and colleges. The NSF accounts for approximately 64 percent of federal support for academic research in the mathematical sciences.
The NSF is the only federal agency that supports research and education across all fields of science, engineering, and mathematics and at all educational levels. Research and education programs supported through the NSF are essential for increasing and developing the knowledge base needed for pushing the frontiers of science, mathematics, and engineering disciplines; developing new fields of inquiry; and supporting technological innovation. Support for the scientific training of undergraduate and graduate students is critically important to our research enterprise. Other NSF investments in education support broadened participation in STEM fields and development of the STEM workforce in demand by American employers.
The entire country benefits from NSF funding and Chairman Moran's state can serve as an example.2
Kansas, an EPSCoR state,3 received \$42 million in NSF funding in FY 2017. There were 138 NSF grants awarded to researchers in Kansas. Funds go toward research for example, researchers in the Kansas State University Medical Component Design Laboratory used NSF funding to develop supplemental sensors for ingestible-pill technology that monitor the health of livestock, protecting against disease outbreaks. Funds go toward STEM education -- for example, The Noyce Teacher-Leaders for Western Kansas project at Fort Hays State University is developing STEM teachers for rural Kansas communities.
The NSF has funded mathematics research and education in Kansas:
Society has benefitted from the many products, procedures, and methods that have resulted from NSF supported research in mathematics -- research performed over many years and typically not intended for specific applications. These benefits include innovations such as the Google Page Rank algorithm, enhancement of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and in cybersecurity. The plethora of applications that have resulted from basic research in the mathematical sciences is described in the National Academies report "The Mathematical Sciences in 2025" or in the executive summary "Fueling Innovation and Discovery: The Mathematical Sciences in the 21st Century".6, 7
Strong and sustained investment will allow the NSF to continue to support innovative and transformational scientific research that fuels the American economy, strengthens national security, maintains our global competitiveness, improves public health and the quality of life for Americans, and contributes to the development of the next generation of science, mathematics, and engineering researchers.
Our global competitors are making tremendous investments in scientific research yet funding for research in the U.S. has only increased incrementally. Because our national investment in basic science research has been declining as a share of the federal budget for decades, we are losing our global edge. To compare, China has grown its R&D spending rapidly since 2000, at an average of 18 percent annually. During the same period, U.S. R&D spending grew by 4 percent [per year].8
While our competitors (and allies) are increasing support for science research and education, the U.S. is failing to fund many important projects. According to the National Science Board, approximately $3.92 billion of cutting-edge research deemed "very good or higher" in NSF's merit criteria was unfunded in FY 2017.
A strong level of funding together with a predictable pattern of funding will facilitate a robust stream of high-level research and researchers that, in turn, will support the level of technological development needed to remain globally competitive.
Thank you for your consideration of this request, and for your prior efforts on behalf of the NSF.