Science and Tech Leaders Jim Gates, Theresa Mayer, and Allison Scott Join the Federation of American Scientists Board

FAS thanks Vice Chair Dr. Rosina Bierbaum for her 20+ years of service

Washington, DC – June 7, 2024 – The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) today announced the addition of three new members to its board of directors, and celebrated Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, who is stepping down as board vice-chair after serving on the board for more than 20 years, helping to grow the science organization into a leading voice in science policy. The three new members to serve the nonpartisan organization include Drs: Jim Gates, Theresa Mayer, and Allison Scott.

“These changes on the FAS board represent a milestone for the organization. First, we owe so much to the multi-decade dedication of Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, whose vision and tireless stewardship of the organization have paved the way for our success. Rosina, thank you,” said Dan Correa, CEO of FAS.

He continued: “Second, it is an honor to welcome to the board three leaders who each bring a new perspective and expertise that will help guide the organization as we refine an ambitious, expanded vision for impact. They all exemplify the highest standards of science and technology leadership, scholarship and service.”

“My time leading this board could never have been as enjoyable or as impactful without my partnership with Rosina Bierbaum,” FAS Board Chair Gilman Louie added. “We believe Jim Gates, Theresa Mayer and Allison Scott are the right people to carry on the stewardship that Rosina exemplified.”

New Arrivals to the FAS Board

Jim Gates (full bio here)


Dr. Sylvester James (“Jim”) Gates Jr.
works at the boundary of physics and mathematics. He is a theoretical physicist at the University of Maryland, where he is a University System Regents Professor, the John S. Toll Professor of Physics, and a College Park Professor. He also holds the Clark Leadership Chair in Science at the University of Maryland and is also a Professor of Public Policy in the School of Public Policy. Gates earned two Bachelor of Science degrees (in physics and mathematics) and his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gates co-authored Superspace: One Thousand and One Lessons in Supersymmetry, the first comprehensive book on supersymmetry in 1984, and has since authored more than 200 research papers. Among his many accomplishments and awards: he became the first African American to hold an endowed chair in physics at a major U.S. research university; received the National Medal of Science – the highest award given to scientists in the U.S. – from President Obama (2013); and his 2015 essay “Thoughts on Creativity, Diversity and Innovation in Science & Education” was cited in the Supreme Court decision known as “Fisher v. Texas.” He served seven years on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), under President Obama.  2024 marks fifty-three consecutive years of university-level teaching at institutions as diverse as Caltech, Howard University, Gustavus Adophus College, MIT, Brown University, and the University of Maryland. Gates regularly appears in documentaries and other media, in addition to his ongoing technical work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory.

Theresa Mayer (full bio here)

Dr. Theresa S. Mayer is Carnegie Mellon University’s Vice President for Research, providing leadership for the University’s research enterprise and advocating for the role that science, technology, and innovation play nationally and globally. She is internationally recognized for her research in applications of nanotechnology, enabling a wide range of novel structures from low-power integrated nanosensor circuits to nanostructured gradient index optical components. In addition to being Carnegie Mellon University’s Vice President for Research, Mayer holds joint faculty appointments in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering. Previously, she was at Purdue University, where she oversaw Purdue’s research enterprise as Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships and a professor of electrical and computer engineering. Prior to that Mayer served as Vice President for Research and Innovation and as a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech. She has more than 350 technical publications, invited presentations and tutorials, and holds eight patents. Several of her co-inventions have been transitioned into commercial products. Mayer’s  research is enabling a wide range of novel structures from low-power integrated nanosensor circuits to nanostructured gradient index optical components.

Allison Scott  (full bio here

Dr. Allison Scott is the CEO of the Kapor Foundation, which focuses at the intersection of racial justice and technology and works to remove barriers in access and opportunity, such that the promise and potential of technology can be harnessed to create a more equitable future. Under her leadership, the Foundation works to: (a) expand equity in K-12 computer science education, (b) increase diversity within tech companies and VC firms, and (c) advance equitable tech policy to transform the technology ecosystem. The Foundation’s strategies include producing research, deploying strategic grants, supporting policy advocacy, and investing in tech entrepreneurs and venture funds. Dr. Scott is currently a Principal Investigator on multiple national grants to expand equity in computer science education and in her previous role as the Chief Research Officer, authored foundational research on inequity in CS education and disparities in the tech sector. Previous positions included: Chief Research Officer at the Kapor Center; Program Leader for the National Institutes of Health’s Enhancing the Diversity of the Biomedical Workforce Initiative; Director of Research and Evaluation for the Level Playing Field Institute, and Data Analyst for the Education Trust-West. Dr. Scott holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Hampton University.  

With Thanks for Dedicated Service to the FAS Board

Rosina Bierbaum (full bio here)

Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, FAS Vice Chair, will step away after more than 20 years of service to the FAS board. Bierbaum’s research is on the interface of science and policy—principally on issues related to climate change adaptation and mitigation—at the national and international levels. Her experience extends from climate science into foreign relations and international development. Bierbaum served for two decades in both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government, and ran the first Environment Division of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Bierbaum’s distinguished career includes university teaching, government service in the White House, influential writing on climate change (including 1993’s Preparing for an Uncertain Climate), as well as numerous other awards, publications, and board positions. Bierbaum holds an appointment in the School of Public Health at Michigan, and in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. She has lectured on every continent, and in more than 20 countries. Bierbaum earned a BA in English, a BS in biology, and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution.

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ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

“I knew FAS is a group that really seeks to do good”: A Conversation with Dr. Rosina Bierbaum

Trying to sum up a varied and impressive career can be an impossible task – especially when that career is still going strong. But as Rosina Bierbaum steps down from her position as Vice Chair of FAS’s Board of Directors, Jonathan Wilson sat down to find out more about how her science career began, and to glean just a few pearls of wisdom that she’s picked up during her time at the forefront of science policy in this country.

Jonathan Wilson: I know that you started off early on with an interest in marine biology. Where did that come from? 

Rosina Bierbaum: Well, I think it was because my dad had a small boat store. And the family  went water-skiing, canoeing, and sail-boating on the rivers and small lakes in Pennsylvania. I grew up in the smoggy steel town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, so visits to these pristine lakes and waters were special and close to my heart. And then I read Rachel Carson’s book, The Sea Around Us. And that really made me want to preserve the waters of the planet and especially got me excited about the oceans. It exposed me to this amazing example of women and science – and even now, there are still some antiquated ideas about women [not belonging] in science. 

On that note, I’m curious about when you were coming up early on, whether you got any kind of discouragement or pushback on pursuing a career in science or even studying science? 

Well, not really. Both my parents had not gone to college and really wished that they could have. And so they encouraged all of us to do so. We would wake up for every NASA space launch, no matter what time of day or night it was, to watch ‘science in action’ on our little black and white TV. My parents were always very interested in science. They encouraged me to enter the science fairs. My older brother did. My older sister did. And I did. So, I felt exactly the opposite – science was cool. And then in high school, I was lucky enough to have freshmen and sophomore science teachers who encouraged me to do after-school work with them to help prepare labs. In fact, they also encouraged me to take summer courses in math at Lehigh University, which was only six blocks away from me, but at that time didn’t yet enroll women. I actually never felt the discouragement that I know a lot of women have. My older sister is an atmospheric chemist. And she definitely felt it was much harder for her than I think it is for ecologists like me, because there were already more women in biology. When I think back on it, though, the two high school teachers who encouraged me were women in my crucial teen years. But most of my mentors in college and graduate school who also believed in me and encouraged me to go further were men. 

It’s interesting because you have a sister who’s a chemist. You have this glittering science policy career. It strikes me that your parents must have had this kind of innate curiosity about the world. Do you ever think, Okay, if my dad or my mom had gone to college, this is what they would have done,? Do they have scientific minds? 

Yes, I think so. My mom actually did become a nurse before the five children showed up. And so she was fascinated in all things medical for the rest of her life, and other disciplines of science, too. And Dad followed in his father’s footsteps initially, which was as a grocer and a butcher, in small-town Bethlehem. You had populations from all over the world who would walk to the steel plant near us and buy things from the store on the way home. For example, he had ultraviolet lamps to keep down bacteria. And so he was always thinking about, ‘Why does this work? How does this work?’ And he was very intrigued with our science experiments. So yes, I think he had an “engineering” mind. He did say he wished that he had been able to go to college. In his 70s, he actually took chemistry courses at the local community college, intending, of course, to impress my older sister! And I remember being in graduate school myself and we would often talk about homework assignments and the design of my experiments together. 

Reading about your early career and your education, it’s clear that pretty early on you set yourself apart. Of course, being a woman in a field dominated by men at the time, that’s one element. But there’s also the element of the tension back then between scientists and government policy workers. You’ve said that some of your scientist colleagues were very negative about you going to do a Congressional Fellowship – they weren’t crazy about you working with politicians. I’m curious if these tensions ever grated on you – being one of the few women in some of these scientific environments, and then being one of the few scientists eager to go work on Capitol Hill. 

Well, first of all, I was very lucky that I went right from graduate school into the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, the late great “OTA”, which is only defunded [meaning, Bierbaum says, Congress could vote to fund it again and resurrect it].  But was done away with in the [Former Speaker Newt] Gingrich Congress. There I was able to learn how to work in a policy domain in a less scary or startling fashion, how to take what had been sort of a narrow and deep science PhD and expand into learning about politics and economics, the social science aspects, and the engineering aspects with a team. 

But it was true that I was exceedingly shocked the very first day that I was a congressional fellow. I went to a House Science Committee hearing, and it was on ozone depletion in the stratosphere. And there were eight men who were wonderful academic leaders in this field trying to speak to one member of Congress who was, of course, a lawyer, as most of them are – and it was a terrible conversation. There was really no information shared between the two sides. And then that whole team of experts from a ‘great University in the Northeast’ got offstage. And one of the environmental groups’ lawyers got up and talked to a lone member of Congress who was there and they were able to exchange real information. 

It was one of those epiphanies. I realized that all the hard and good scientific research and accomplishments out in the ivory towers that aren’t translated into usable information simply won’t get used. That made me think for the first time that maybe this shouldn’t just be a one-year congressional fellowship to learn how policy works, but to actually work to bring science into the policy world, and – equally important – to bring the policy needs back out to the academic world. 

Did it ever become frustrating or old to you – the work of translating between these two communities of politicians and scientists?

It was actually very exciting. What was surprising in conducting the first congressional assessment on acid rain was how little the scientific uncertainties stopped the Congress from deciding what to do! There were huge questions in the 1980s of which pollutants to control, over how big of a region, how much to reduce, and what ecological endpoints even exist. And they answered those questions fairly quickly: let’s go for sulfur dioxide first, and let’s tackle a big region of the country. About a 50% decrease in the loading of hydrogen ions in the Eastern lakes could come from about 50% emissions reduction from the Midwest. After quickly deciding that, then Congress spent 10 years arguing over who pays and the political aspects. 

My first boss, Bob Friedman, asked me to draw a diagram of how we were going to do this assessment, how Congress should think about the impacts of climate change, and how they could build it into the Clean Air Act of 1990. So, I drew one a very linear diagram – start by thinking about the sources. You should think about reactions as they’re moving through the atmosphere. You should think about deposition products. What will the impacts be?  And out of that, will fall the solutions. And he burst into laughter. Somewhere I still have that diagram today. To me, science was driving everything, and the miracle happens, and [the answer] falls out the bottom. He redrew it so that science was in the bottom right of the box, surrounded by societal concerns and interests, which were surrounded by, of course, the political exigencies and possibilities.

I learned that science is never the loudest voice in the room, but it must be in the room. And what it says and how it can guide regulations or legislation is something that became a principle that I tried to abide by in the years in the Congress and then in the White House. And so, it never got old, because it was really interesting to figure out how to be scientifically accurate, but also politically expedient, and translate things into usable information. This is very obviously very important, and very key to what FAS is trying to do these days. 

I’m curious how over the course of your career working in science policy and watching how science interacts with government policy – how you’ve seen that change. Have you seen science on the Hill and in the White House more often just following the winds of political trends? Or do you see real progression with how the government interacts with scientists and hard science? 

Well, I certainly would say in the 1980s, during the era of the acid rain bill and the reauthorization of the Clean Air Act, it was an interesting time because the federal agencies were not particularly helping the Congress think very hard about this. It was the time of [former Environmental Protection Agency administrator] Anne Gorsuch. And so this little congressional agency [OTA] was very useful. We actually analyzed 19 different acid rain bills in the course of three or four years. I do think, though, also there were more statespeople in the Congress than I feel there are today, and there was definitely more collaborative work. And one of the things that OTA required was that both the chair and the ranking member of committees had to ask for assessments, so it belonged to both sides. Then there was also a Technology Assessment Council of Democrats, Republicans, House, and Senate people who reviewed the process of producing it. So reports were considered relatively apolitical when completed. But I do think that it was a different time. 

I mean, the main thing that Congress has done on climate change was pass the 1990 Global Change Act. And thank goodness they created that because it requires an annual research plan. It requires an assessment every four years or so of the impacts [of climate change] on the U.S. And the 5th National Climate Assessment that just came out has very strong indications of impacts already being felt: the issues of inequity, the issues of extreme events, costs to livelihood, regional impacts, etc.

So I think you’re right. There are political winds that blow. And timing is everything. Sometimes issues are more relevant, and sometimes they are not. But I feel that the steady collection of information that used to happen in the 1980s – and somewhat into the 1990s – from real debates, and committee hearings on topics, has changed. I would say back then in the Science Committee, the Democrats’ and Republicans’ staff would meet together to figure out who they were going to bring in as people to testify. And they would work on questions together. If the questions didn’t get asked by one side, they’d get asked by the other. I think partisanship has really diminished that, and I think the frequency of science-based committee hearings has decreased a lot too. You’ll often see, depending on whether it’s a Republican or Democrat committee chair – there might be just one person who defends a scientific point of view lined up against three or four people arguing against it, as opposed to a rigorous debate. 

So you spent two decades at the intersection of science and policy, serving in both the legislative and executive branches, and you even ran the first Environment Division of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology. Along the way, you were introduced to the Federation of American Scientists. So what made you want to serve on FAS’s board?

I knew about the Pugwash conferences – FAS came into being in response to nuclear weapons and seeking to prevent their use. So the same advisor – Bentley Glass – who urged me to do that Congressional fellowship, had been very active in Pugwash and speaking out against future arms’ races. And he got me involved in student Pugwash. I did that for many years, too, during my times at OTA and OSTP and even beyond, when I came to [the University of] Michigan. But over the years, John Holdren (former Chair of FAS and winner of 2 of its awards) had talked to me about FAS’s value. Henry C. Kelly was the President [of FAS], and he had worked with me at OSTP. He asked me to join the Board because FAS was thinking about energy and climate, and how to expand their mission into that area. I think I was added early on as a kind of “other”, for expertise in things slightly tangential, but within the orbit of future FAS work. 

I knew FAS is a group that really seeks to do good. And we were hoping we could engage more young scholars and stretch the confines of FAS into other security issues like climate change, energy, et cetera. 

It strikes me again – here you are at another point in your career where you’re unafraid to be a little bit of a pioneer, or different from everyone else at the table. You have this organization that is very historically nuclear-focused: FAS. And you’re not afraid to jump into that room with all these nuclear scientists and try something new. What was that like at first?

Well, one thing, Jonathan – I think you started by asking about being a woman in science. And I have to say for almost all of my career in the policy world, I hardly thought about that I was only the only woman in the room. But that was often true. It was in the policy world, where I was going to be the only scientist in the room. And I think again being undaunted by that it goes back to my parents, who believed in me, and said you could do anything you wanted to. But with FAS, I was in a room with scientists. They were different scientists than me. But it was fascinating. 

It was a world that was a bit alien. But again, it was trying to figure out what the role of FAS can be in these new and emerging issues and how to communicate it. So it actually didn’t feel as alien as it did being in the policy world [in government]. It was fun thinking about how FAS could move into these areas. And of course, I think the world of Gilman [Louie – current FAS board chair], who is just a fabulous chair and a joy to work with, he’ll be impossible to replace. 

I’ve been very happy to serve. I’m so happy about where it is now with the expansion into science policy, the issues of artificial intelligence, technology, and innovation, etc.. You’re in a great place to tackle emerging issues. I think of all of these as relevant to security issues, expanding the scope of FAS.  And, being a central place in D.C. with access to the Congress and the executive agencies and the NGO world is just fabulous. 

What are you going to be up to now? I mean – you’re not retiring. So you still have a lot of other stuff to do. So what interests you the most right now? 

I’m on many other boards. I’m on the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Board. And as you know, they do a huge amount of work on the environment and on basic science. I find that really interesting: to think about how you can effect change both in practice and advance science research. 

The most time-consuming duty is my work as chair of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility. The Global Environment Facility exists to implement the environmental treaties in the less developed countries. And so my little team of scientists screens every project of $2 million or greater, and tries to make sure that there’s a sound theory of change, that the outcome desired can be achieved, and that they’ve thought about climate risk screening, both the effect of the project on climate change, but also if the outcome will persist as the climate changes. 

I’m also on Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, and we train thousands of young climate scholars all around the world. I serve on the Environmental and Energy Study Institute Board that briefs the Congress on key environmental issues. I’m on the Board of the Wildlife Conservation Society working to save wildlife and wild places around the world. I’m on the Global CO2 Initiative board at the University of Michigan and on an advisory board for Colorado State, developing an environmental program for undergraduate and graduate students. I teach both at the University of Michigan, mainly on Climate Adaptation, and at the University of Maryland on Science Policy with new FAS Board member and another member of the former Obama PCAST, Jim Gates, who’s a fabulous string theorist. And we’re able to pull in graduate students from the sciences, because he’s a physicist, and graduate students from public policy – because that’s the school I’m in at Maryland. And we do create a wonderful clash of cultures. We require that the students write policy memos. And each year, some of the students then decide, ‘Hey, maybe this is a noble profession – going into science policy!’. 

As you step down from your time with FAS, what excites you about what FAS can accomplish in coming years? What would you like to see FAS either expand into or do more of? 

Well, I think one of the things that they now have the capability to do is to work with the next generation of FAS scholars. I think FAS has an incredible potential to do convenings on a variety of topics, also potentially at a variety of universities. I think this generation hasn’t had to think about the core of FAS, nuclear security issues, as much as they should. Certainly with us celebrating Oppenheimer [at 2023’s FAS Public Service Awards], the time is ripe to do that. But I also think holding convenings on other particularly contentious issues makes sense.  I think FAS can be seen as a neutral facilitator to bring together both sides of an issue – whether it be on artificial intelligence or other science and technology topics – and bring together academics, the NGO community, and people from the Hill or the agencies to talk through some of these things. It certainly has proven that FAS, being where it is and being led as it is, has its ear to the rail, as it were, for upcoming topics. I think that being an enabler of wise discussion and communication on emerging topics is so much needed, especially in this time of both polarization and an increase in misinformation.  

I was both horrified and heartened that the World Economic Forum listed misinformation as its fifth most worrisome risk over the next decade. The first four were all environmental, but misinformation was the next one, and then misuse of AI was the sixth one. And so all the security issues – environmental security, et cetera – are, I think, squarely in FAS’s domain. I think it’s a time of incredible growth and potential for FAS. And I just can’t wait to see what it becomes in this next generation.

FAS joins US AI Safety Institute Research Consortium

Washington, February 8, 2024 — The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) announced today its participation in the new AI Safety Institute Consortium (AISIC) launched by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The consortium brings together over 200 organizations working to develop methods for rigorously evaluating and improving the safety of artificial intelligence systems.

“Rigorous scientific analysis of AI systems’ impacts are essential for building public trust,” said Dan Correa, CEO of FAS. “FAS is committed to reducing societal risks from powerful emerging technologies. We’re proud to help shape frameworks to ensure AI safety keeps pace with rapid advances.”

“The U.S. government has a significant role to play in setting the standards and developing the tools we need to mitigate the risks and harness the immense potential of artificial intelligence. President Biden directed us to pull every lever to accomplish two key goals: set safety standards and protect our innovation ecosystem. That’s precisely what the U.S. AI Safety Institute Consortium is set up to help us do,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

She continues: “Through President Biden’s landmark Executive Order, we will ensure America is at the front of the pack – and by working with this group of leaders from industry, civil society, and academia, together we can confront these challenges to develop the measurements and standards we need to maintain America’s competitive edge and develop AI responsibly.”

In addition to leading tech companies and AI research labs, AISIC includes civil society groups, academic institutions, state/local governments and international partners. FAS’s expertise in science and technology policy will contribute to these vital discussions.

“AI holds immense potential, but we must ensure these systems are reliable and aligned with human values,” said Divyansh Kaushik, FAS’s Associate Director for Emerging Technologies and National Security. “Through this consortium, FAS will collaborate with experts across sectors to tackle the complex challenges in measuring AI safety and mitigating risks.”

FAS has advocated for science and technology policies benefiting society since 1945. The organization continues to contribute scientific expertise to a variety of initiatives.

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

For more information about the organizations contributing to AISIC, click here.

FAS Endorses Report Showing Increasing Talented Immigration Population Solves U.S. STEM Talent and Tax Deficits

Penn Wharton Budget Model’s Dynamic Population Modeling Highlights Economic and Defense Benefits

Washington, DCJanuary 29, 2024 – The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) reviewed the recently released Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) and support the findings that current estimates do not fully capture the budgetary impact of proposed changes in immigration policy, and updates to this methodology would reveal valuable scientific, societal, and economic growth benefits. 

“Enhancing STEM-trained immigration access, as shown through dynamic modeling, not only addresses the deficit in scientific talent but also boosts tax revenues and strengthens our global competitiveness,” said Dan Correa, CEO of FAS. 

He continued, “FAS strongly believes that we need more pathways for talented scientists to enter our country, stay here, and enable America to build on its legacy of scientific leadership. The Manhattan Project, for instance, included immigrants, some of whom were the most influential scientists of their day. America knows how to be a global leader, and that’s by being the place that attracts and retains the brightest minds.”

Incorporating projected changes in population into budget estimation offers a more precise assessment of the budgetary implications resulting from changes in immigration policy. The study suggests transitioning from conventional budget estimation to a population-change approach, revealing a significant shift from a $4 billion increase in the federal budget deficit to a $129 billion decrease from 2025 to 2034.

Despite workforce development being among the most critical areas of national defense and economic development–especially when it comes to scientific skills, knowledge, and expertise–roadblocks exist to bring and retain foreign-born talent. This deficit leaves the U.S. struggling to retain an edge in the global talent market.

“Right now, nearly 60% of people earning advanced degrees in STEM fields are foreign born. The U.S. is already at a disadvantage because so many highly educated people who are educated here do not have a path forward to stay here after graduation. This, at a time when the United States has an urgent need for scientists working in artificial intelligence and national security to effectively compete against People’s Republic of China and other authoritarian regimes who are using these technologies against our national interests,” said Divyansh Kaushik, Associate Director of Emerging Technologies and National Security at FAS. 

“A dynamic modeling of population data shows the many economic benefits that follow when the U.S. smoothes the immigration path as one lever to reduce our national deficit of STEM graduates. This is an educational deficit we cannot quickly close without improvements to our immigration policies” said Sara Schapiro, Director of Education and Workforce at FAS, who closely follows education efforts by the federal government that affect the workforce. 

PWBM reports that although the CBO has applied dynamic population-modeling approach to four legislative proposals H.R. 2131 (CBO 2014), S. 744 (CBO 2013a), Senate Amendment 1150 to S. 1348 (CBO 2007a, CBO 2007b), and S. 2611 (CBO 2006a, CBO 2006b)—but has not been applied to any proposals since 2014.

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

FAS Annual Report 2023

Friends and Colleagues,

In today’s political climate in Washington, it is sometimes hard to believe that change is possible. Yet, at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), we know firsthand that progress happens when the science community has a seat at the policymaking table. At our core, we believe that when passionate advocates join forces and share a commitment to ongoing learning, adaptation, and a drive toward action – science and technology progress can both solve the toughest challenges and uncover new ways to deliver the greatest impact.

In 2023, we remained steadfast in our ability to spur collective action. FAS supported our federal partners on the most significant investments in science and technology in decades with the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science Act (CHIPS) and the Inflation Reduction Act. Our Talent Hub team placed 71 Impact Fellows on tours of service in government and secured a first-of-its-kind partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to place 35 Impact Fellows in key positions within USDA over the next five years. Our expert network published 47 actionable policy memos through our Day One Project platform and drove impact by working with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to launch the new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Infrastructure (ARPA-I). And our renowned Nuclear Information Project continues to inform the public and challenge assumptions about nuclear weapons arsenals and trends with record breaking public attention. I hope you’ll read more about all of our wins in this year’s FAS Impact Report.

FAS remains focused on honoring our 80-year legacy as a leading voice on global risk while seeking out new policy areas and domains that advance and support science and technology priorities. To support this new era for FAS, we completed a full rebrand—modernizing our look and retelling our story—and rolled out organization-wide strategic goals to drive and define the impact we seek to instill across government. Together, we focus on more than progress for its own sake—we intentionally create the systems and paradigms that make such progress sustainable and tangible.

We have continued to build our team and expertise, and with that growth we are inspired by the caliber of our new teammates. We also remain committed to fulfilling our expectations on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) and continue to advocate for stronger commitments to social equality with all of our partners. 

It is impossible for me to fit the entire year’s successes into a single letter, but I hope our annual report brings my update to life.

Thank you for your continued support,

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Dan Correa, FAS CEO

For several years, FAS has been evangelizing the power of policy entrepreneurship to galvanize policy change, helping an entire community of experts and practitioners embrace the tools, mindsets and networks needed to get results. The power of policy entrepreneurship is two-fold: 

In FY23, FAS advanced policy entrepreneurship across all of its core issue domains by convening change agents, crafting policy memos, curating policy ideas, and seeding countless actionable policy ideas through policy entrepreneurship. Below are just some of our highlights over the past year.

Championing Critical Funding across the Science and Technology (S&T) Ecosystem—FY23 Omnibus Spending Bill

Public investments in science and technology have declined precipitously since the Cold War, when two percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) went to research and development (R&D). With estimates of R&D investment currently below one percent of GDP  and challenges from peer competitors like China threatening U.S. leadership in emerging technologies, FAS advocates for strong investments in critical and emerging technologies as well as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education to maintain America’s edge in innovation. 

In December 2022, President Biden signed the FY23 Omnibus appropriations package into law, funding a broad range of new science and technology priorities. This funding will strengthen our country’s ability to invest in better science and technology education, stay globally competitive and ensure that innovation opportunities are available across the country. The bill included provisions that stemmed from a number of ideas that FAS staff and Day One Project contributors helped seed, including:

Reversing Megafire through Science and Data

Against a backdrop of the growing scourge of megafires, FAS has helped to put wildfires on the policy agenda in a bipartisan way that would have seemed impossible only a year ago. FAS organized more than 30 experts to contribute actionable policy ideas that have been shared directly with the Congressionally-mandated Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. Through this effort, we are advancing our goal of helping reduce the risks of catastrophic uncontrolled fires and protect people from the health risks of wildfire smoke while promoting beneficial controlled fire to improve ecosystem health. FAS policy recommendations influenced recommendations in the Commission’s report to Congress to guide a legislative implementation strategy which has included $1.6 billion in appropriations requests for smoke and public health.

Addressing Inequities in Medical Devices

The COVID-19 public health emergency revealed deep disparities in medical device use, specifically with pulse oximeters—devices widely used to measure oxygen saturation in blood. Medical researchers and policymakers had overlooked this issue for years until the COVID-19 pandemic revealed a large disparity in the diagnosis and treatment of severe respiratory conditions in Black and Brown communities. Through policy entrepreneurship, FAS identified an opportunity on a previously under-examined health policy issue and achieved two major wins. 

First, FAS brought together more than 60 stakeholders to highlight policy opportunities to address racial bias in pulse oximeters and to cultivate a comprehensive strategy to address biases and inequities in medical innovation from industry to philanthropy and government by hosting an in-person Forum on Bias in Pulse Oximetry in November 2022. 

Second, recognizing the importance of continuing the conversation on disparate impacts of technology and the COVID-19 pandemic on underrepresented communities, FAS developed a research and policy agenda for near-term mitigation of inequities in pulse oximetry and other medical technologies as well as the long-term solutions from the Bias in Pulse Oximetry Forum. FAS’ research and convening on this issue prompted the Veterans Health Administration (VHA)—a major health agency within the U.S. government—to evaluate the use of all pulse oximeters (~50 types) and to understand the impact of the technologies on the more than nine million patients served by the VHA system.

FAS experts frequently collaborate with stakeholders in Congress and the executive branch to help solve complex science and technology policy challenges that align with government priorities and needs. In FY23, FAS’s unique ability to coordinate actors across the legislative and executive branches and facilitate crucial discourse and planning efforts across government agencies yielded tangible successes as described below.

Accelerating Technology Deployment through Flexible Financial Mechanisms to Maximize Spending from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)

Promising technologies and opportunities for innovation exist across health, clean energy, and other domains but often lack an existing market—or guarantee of a future market—to support their creation and commercialization. The federal government can play a unique role in signaling and even guaranteeing demand for these solutions, including using its power as a buyer. 

FAS worked with the DOE front office to diffuse flexible financial mechanisms to support and accelerate the deployment of novel clean energy technologies that lower greenhouse gas emissions, while supporting the implementation of BIL and IRA. FAS compiled a set of policy recommendations for how DOE could leverage its Other Transactions Authority (OTA) to accelerate commercialization and scale high-impact clean energy technologies. FAS recommended that DOE use its other transaction authority by establishing a formal internal process that encourages the formation of consortia to promote efficiency and collaboration across technology areas, while still appropriately mitigating risk. 

These recommendations prompted DOE to release informed guidance in September 2023 for how program offices and leaders across the agency can leverage other transactions to catalyze demand for clean energy. DOE continues to engage FAS in ongoing discussions on deploying OTAs and other flexible financial mechanisms to stimulate demand and accelerate deployment of promising technologies.

Creating stronger infrastructure through innovation

The United States faces multiple challenges in using innovation to not only deliver transportation infrastructure that is more resilient against climate change, but also to deliver on the clean energy transition and advance equity for communities that have historically been excluded from decision-making on these projects. To address these challenges, in November 2021 Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which included $550 billion in new funding for dozens of new programs across the USDOT.

The bill created the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Infrastructure (ARPA-I) and historic investments in America’s roads and bridges. ARPA-I’s mission is to unlock the full potential of public and private innovation ecosystems to improve U.S. infrastructure by accelerating climate game-changers across the entire U.S. R&D ecosystem. Since its authorization, USDOT has invited FAS to use our expertise to scope advanced research priorities across diverse infrastructure topics where targeted research can yield innovative new infrastructure technologies, materials, systems, capabilities, or processes through ARPA-I.

For example, this year FAS has engaged more than 160 experts in ARPA-I program idea generation and created 50 wireframes for ARPA-I’s initial set of programs, leading to a powerful coalition of stakeholders and laying a strong foundation for the potential that ARPA-I can achieve as it evolves. ARPA-I’s authorization and subsequent initial appropriation in December 2022 provides an opportunity to tackle monumental challenges across transportation and infrastructure through breakthrough innovation. FAS’s programming is helping shape the future of the ARPA-I office.

Providing Government with the Tools to Assess Risks in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Biosecurity

With increased warnings that AI may support the development of chemical and biological weapons, the federal government must act to protect the public from malicious actors. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Ted Budd (R-NC) introduced the Artificial Intelligence and Biosecurity Risk Assessment Act and the Strategy for Public Health Preparedness and Response to Artificial Intelligence Threats Act with FAS’s technical assistance. These two pieces of legislation empower the federal government to better understand public health security risks associated with AI by directing the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct comprehensive risk assessments of advances in AI.

Helping International STEM Students and Workers in the United States

Sixty percent of computer science PhDs and nearly 50% of STEM PhDs are foreign born, and these workers have contributed to America’s continuing science and technological leadership. FAS has worked across the legislative and executive branches of government to keep the best and brightest science and technology minds in the United States.

In the legislative branch, interest in keeping talented scientific and technical talent in the United States has increased as a natural security concern. Recognizing the importance of this moment, FAS provided technical assistance to the offices of Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL11) and Mike Lawler (R-NY17) in introducing the Keep STEM Talent Act of 2023, a bill that would make it easier for international students with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States after graduation.

An executive branch rule states that most nonimmigrants (i.e., non-green card holders) must renew visas outside the United States at an American embassy or consulate overseas. This rule requires students and workers to leave the United States during school or employment and bear the costs of going back to their country of origin; it also creates an administrative burden for consular officers who have heavy caseloads. FAS experts published a policy document that provides specific recommendations for how to reinstate domestic visa renewal. The State Department implemented some of these recommendations through a pilot program. This pilot program, the first step to solving this challenge, allows high-skilled immigrants to renew their work visas in the United States rather than having to travel to their home country to do so.

At FAS, we are proud of our impact and realize there is still more to be done. While we are working to expand the breadth and depth of our work above, we also see three major opportunities for FAS in the next fiscal year.

Expanding Government’s Capacity 

The U.S. government is critical to solving the largest problems of the 21st century. While significant progress has been made, institutional complexity challenges the government’s ability to quickly innovate and deliver on its mission. Lackluster incentives, bureaucratic bottlenecks, and the lack of feedback loops slow progress and hinder capacity building across four key areas: financial mechanisms, evidence, talent, and culture. This work is especially important in an election year where either a second term or new administration will bring new people and ideas to Washington, DC, and the government’s ability to execute these ideas hinges on its capacity.

FAS is in a unique position to support the federal government in building federal capacity. Since delivering 100 implementation-ready policy proposals for the 2020 presidential transition, FAS has grown and matured, expanding our capabilities as an organization. We are working to diagnose key science and technology policy issues ripe for bipartisan innovation and support. As we move forward with our findings, FAS will use our Day One platform to publicize grand challenges in this space and gather the best ideas from experts across the country on how best to solve these issues.

Mitigating Global Risk

FAS was founded to address the new, human-created nuclear danger that threatened global extinction. Today, in a world vastly more complicated than the one into which nuclear weapons were introduced, FAS supports the development and execution of sound public policy based on proven and effective technical skills to improve the human condition and, increasingly, to reduce global risks. 

FAS’s new Global Risk program is focused on both the promise and peril posed by evolving AI capabilities in the nuclear landscape and beyond. Dedicated to reducing nuclear dangers and ensuring that qualified technical experts are integral parts of the policy process, FAS seeks to advance its work in support of U.S. and global security at the intersection between nuclear weapons, AI, and global risk. By drawing on technical experts, engaging the policy community, convening across multiple skill sets and sectors, and developing joint projects and collaborations with the government, FAS seeks to drive positive policy outcomes and shape the security landscape for the better.

Deepening Knowledge of Emerging Technologies across All Branches of Government

AI’s rapid evolution, combined with a lack of understanding of how it works, makes today’s policy decisions incredibly important but fraught with misconceptions. This is a pivotal moment, and FAS seeks to engage, educate, and inspire congressional staff, executive branch personnel, military decision makers, and state lawmakers on AI’s substantial potential—and risks. Our mission is to translate this transformative technology for lawmakers by advancing impactful policy development and promoting positive and productive discourse.  

FAS finds itself in an unprecedented position to directly inform and influence crucial decisions that will shape AI governance. Our nonpartisan expertise and ability to move rapidly have made us the go-to resource for members of Congress across party lines when they require technical advice on AI-related issues. In the 118th Congress, FAS’s AI team has provided support on six vital AI bills and received requests for assistance and briefings on AI-related topics from over 40 congressional offices.

We recognize that this momentum offers FAS a unique opportunity to not only continue guiding policymakers with much-needed perspectives but also strive for actionable and equitable policy change that addresses the challenges linked with advancements in artificial intelligence.

The Federation of American Scientists continued our fundraising momentum from FY22 into FY23, securing $51 million in new commitments across 47 total awards and 31 unique funders, representing a 46% increase in funding allocations from last year. These investments by FAS’s philanthropic and agency partners reflect a sustained focus by FAS staff to continue diversifying and expanding our funding portfolio while simultaneously deepening our connections with existing partners and positioning FAS as an indispensable voice for evidence-based, scientifically-driven policy analysis and research.

The majority of the funding FAS receives (99.6%) is restricted for the use of specific projects and initiatives, while unrestricted funding (which only accounts for 0.04% of funding) bolsters the organization’s operational capacity.

The critical work being done at FAS would not be possible without the generous support of its philanthropic partners who continue to invest in the organization’s vision for the future.

Anonymous DonorFuture of Life InstituteLEGO FoundationOceans 5The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Arnold VenturesThe Gates FoundationLincoln NetworkOpen PhilanthropyThrive Together LLC
Bayshore GlobalGeneral Services AdministrationLongview PhilanthropyThe David and Lucille Packard FoundationUnited States Department of Agriculture
Breakthrough EnergyGood Ventures FoundationThe John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur FoundationPIT FundUnited States Department of Transportation
Camelback VenturesHorizon Institute for Public ServiceMercatus CenterThe Ploughshares FundUnited States Economic Development Administration
Carnegie Corporation of New YorkThe William and Flora Hewlett FoundationThe Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationThe Prospect Hill FoundationUnlockAid
The Catena FoundationKapor CenterNational Center for Entrepreneurship and InnovationResource Legacy FundThe Walton Family Foundation
Chan Zuckerberg InitiativeKorea FoundationNational Philanthropic TrustSchmidt Futures
The Dallas FoundationThe Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationThe New Land FoundationSiegel Family Endowment
The Energy FoundationThe Kresge FoundationNorwegian People’s AidSilicon Valley Community Foundation

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Recognizes Exemplary Work in Science Policy and Culture with the 2023 FAS Public Service Awards

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Todd (R-IN), and Dr. Alondra Nelson presented with FAS Public Service Awards;
Alexa White received the inaugural FAS Policy Entrepreneurship award.

Washington, DCNovember 16, 2023 – Technology journalist Kara Swisher presided over the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) ceremony yesterday in Washington, D.C. to award the science think tank’s highest honor: the FAS Public Service Awards. The awards recognize scientists, academics, government leaders, entrepreneurs and others who have elevated science and technology on behalf of the public. 

This year’s FAS Public Service Awards honorees were: filmmaker Christopher Nolan for depicting scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and bringing the global threat of nuclear weapons back into public discussion; Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Todd Young (R-IN) for their work passing the CHIPS & Science Act, which will greatly expand opportunities for scientists to develop new technologies and compete globally; and Dr. Alondra Nelson, Harold F. Linder Professor, Institute for Advanced Study, for her work at OSTP on artificial intelligence governance and expanding opportunity in the STEM fields. Alexa White received the inaugural FAS Policy Entrepreneur Award. This award recognizes initiative to bring science and technology evidence to government policy.

Nolan’s win for Oppenheimer was the first award bestowed by FAS for cultural contributions through cinema. The story of J. Robert Oppenheimer includes the lives of scientists instrumental in forming FAS in 1945, and artfully conveyed the many complexities of unleashing a new technology that still presents such urgency today. 

“Science is truth, and science seeks to disprove itself. It’s proud to say when it’s wrong, because that means something’s been learned and something’s been improved. And in case it hadn’t occurred to you, or in case you’re wondering, there’s nobody else on earth doing that, but scientists, and that’s precious and unique,” says Mr. Nolan.

Christopher Nolan speaking at the 2023 FAS Public Service Awards

Director Christopher Nolan speaking at the 2023 FAS Public Service Awards

Leader Schumer and Senator Young spoke about their work collaborating with members of the House to pass the CHIPS and Science Act. Senator Young remained for a fireside chat after the event to discuss emerging global threats;  Leader Schumer was called away to address a late night vote.

“It was a pleasure to accept this year’s FAS Public Service Award with Senator Young for our work on the CHIPS & Science Act,” says Leader Schumer. “This transformative legislation—the largest investment in American innovation in a generation—will ensure that the United States stays on the cutting-edge of research, technology development, and manufacturing. I look forward to continuing to work across the aisle to fully fund this act so the U.S can continue to lead the world in innovation, including in critical technologies like AI.”

Senators Schumer and Young receiving FAS Public Service Awards

Senators Schumer and Young showing the crowd their FAS Public Service Awards

Unable to attend in person was Dr. Alondra Nelson, who presented her acceptance by video.

“As a researcher, I was writing about the impact of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, when I was asked to serve in it, and then to lead it, to help craft national strategy for US reinvestment in the research and innovation ecosystem, with careful attention to the value proposition these investments should offer the American public, including communities that have not always benefited from such opportunities,” says Dr. Alondra Nelson, Harold F. Linder Professor, Institute for Advanced Study.  “It is therefore deeply gratifying to be honored with the Public Service Award because FAS’s commitment to equitable innovation embodies the values we sought to imbue in our work at OSTP on artificial intelligence governance, on expanding opportunity in the STEM fields, and in ensuring American taxpayers’ access to federally funded research.” 

Vilas Dhar, president of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, presented Ms. White with the FAS Policy Entrepreneur Award. Ms. White developed a policy memo to increase data collection capacity to address environmental injustice and went on to start a consultancy with this focus. 

“I brought my passion for environmental justice to FAS as a policy entrepreneur. The AYA Research Institute has grown into a thriving organization in large part due to this memo. I thank FAS for their support of my work so early in my career, and for presenting me with the first ever FAS Policy Entrepreneurship award,” says Alexa White.

Alexa White in conversation with Vilas Dhar at the 2023 FAS Public Service Awards

Alexa White in conversation with Vilas Dhar at the 2023 FAS Public Service Awards

“Tonight really was the culmination of a few things for FAS – a reinvigoration of our work on global risk at an important moment, and a milestone for FAS’ larger project of championing science, evidence-based policy, and those inside and outside of government who innovate for the greater good,” says Dan Correa, CEO of FAS.

Starting in 1971, the FAS Public Service Awards honors the contributions of a diverse group of scientists, policymakers, and tastemakers in pursuit of advancements in science and technology. Previous winners of the award include: Senators Ted Kennedy, Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar and Secretaries Henry Kissinger, George Schultz and William Perry, and author Carl Sagan, editor Ruth Adams, and activist Sally Lillenthal. 

Honorees came from diverse fields across the country including: arts and entertainment, public service, academia, and entrepreneurship. The event was held in the Hamilton Hotel, a downtown landmark opened in 1922. 

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

Director Christopher Nolan, Senators Schumer and Young, Dr. Alondra Nelson and Alexa White To Be Honored by the Federation of American Scientists with FAS Public Service, Policy Entrepreneur Awards

The Federation will spotlight outstanding work in science policy and culture in downtown Washington, D.C. November 15th in an event emceed by tech journalist Kara Swisher

Washington, DC – November 14, 2023 – On November 15th the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) is reviving a decades-long tradition, first started in 1971, to honor luminaries in science, technology, and public service with the FAS Public Service Awards. This year, honorees include filmmaker Christopher Nolan for his cinematic portrait of scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Todd Young (R-IN) for their work in Congress making the CHIPS & Science Act a reality, Dr. Alondra Nelson, for her leadership on both A.I. regulation and advancing equity in STEM fields, and Alexa White, who will receive FAS’ first ever “Policy Entrepreneurship” award – aimed at honoring an emerging leader in the world of science policy. Tech journalist Kara Swisher will emcee the event.

“I was proud to lead the largest investment in American innovation in a generation, the CHIPS and Science Act, with Senator Young last Congress,” says Leader Schumer. “CHIPS and Science began with the Endless Frontier Act, and with the help of so many–including the Federation of American Scientists–we turned this transformative proposal into law. The CHIPS and Science Act will ensure the U.S. stays on the cutting-edge of research and out-competes the world in technology development and advanced manufacturing.”

“It is an honor to rekindle this historic tradition and celebrate the contributions to science of such an incredible and diverse group of leaders, storytellers and policy entrepreneurs,” says Dan Correa, CEO of FAS.

FAS, one of the oldest science think tanks in America, formed in the fall of 1945 as the ‘Federation of Atomic Scientists’ to communicate the dangers of nuclear weapons to the public. This mission continues as world events remind us that nuclear war remains a danger. FAS has expanded its mission of policy change through the lens of scientific expertise to include additional and emerging global threats, such as climate change and AI.

Following the award presentation, honorees will be joined by Dr. Geraldine Richmond, the Under Secretary of Energy for Science and Innovation in the US Department of Energy, for a fireside chat about emerging global threats and opportunities. Dr. Richmond oversees the nation’s largest federal sponsor of the physical sciences, and is helping to lead the Department’s work in artificial intelligence.

This is a closed event but interested parties may follow updates on social media at #FASAwards.

ABOUT THE FAS PUBLIC SERVICE AWARDS

Started in 1971, the FAS Public Service Awards honors the contributions of a diverse group of scientists, policymakers, and tastemakers in pursuit of advancements in science and technology. Previous winners of the award include: Senators Ted Kennedy, Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar and Secretaries Henry Kissinger, George Schultz and William Perry, and author Carl Sagan, editor Ruth Adams, and activist Sally Lillenthal. This is the inaugural year for the FAS Policy Entrepreneurship award, to recognize someone who identified a policy need and took action to address it using science and technology. 

ABOUT FAS
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Announces a New Collaboration with Experts Cristin Dorgelo, Jennifer Pahlka, Kathy Stack and Peter Bonner as Senior Fellows

These experienced policymakers will shape the Federation’s work supporting a more innovative federal government with the capacity to deliver.

Washington, DCNovember 2, 2023 – The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) today announced a collaboration with four exceptional senior scientific policy fellows: Cristin Dorgelo, Jennifer Pahlka, Kathy Stack, and Peter Bonner.  The fellows will bring combined 60+ years of technology innovation and government service. They will help grow FAS’ government capacity and innovation portfolio

Building federal capacity, with particular focus on financial mechanisms, evidence and data, talent and hiring, and culture, will equip the US government to solve the most pressing challenges facing our nation. FAS supports the federal government through scoping and diagnosing research, convening key stakeholders to identify opportunities and build community and momentum, and partnering with agencies to address bottlenecks and identify promising pathways for progress. 

FAS is in a unique position to support the federal government in building federal capacity. Since delivering 100 implementation-ready policy proposals for the 2020 presidential transition, FAS has grown, expanding capabilities as an organization. Since the outset of the current administration, FAS has focused on building internal organizational infrastructure to support a variety of federal initiatives. 

“Each of these fellows bring tremendous expertise and government service experience to FAS, and a perspective that how government works is as important as what it works on. Their perspectives will guide our work on enhancing government capacity to meet our biggest science and technology challenges” says Dan Correa, CEO of FAS.

Cristin Dorgelo is an independent consultant with more than 25 years of executive leadership experience. She was most recently the senior advisor for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget in the Biden-Harris Administration, and she served as team lead for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Agency Review Team for the Biden-Harris Transition. She was President and CEO of the Association of Science and Technology Centers from 2018-2020. She served in the Obama-Biden Administration’s OSTP from 2012-2017. There, she was the agency’s Chief of Staff and also led the White House “Grand Challenges” and open innovation initiatives, aiming to catalyze breakthroughs towards national priorities.

“An effective and responsive government is essential to addressing urgent problems such as climate change and delivering on priorities such as our national infrastructure,” says Dorgelo. “I appreciate that FAS values a research-driven approach to understand the root causes of barriers and bottlenecks and evaluate new ideas rapidly, and then propose those solutions to agency leaders and policymakers who can put them into practice.”  

Jennifer Pahlka is author of the book, Recoding America: Why Government Is Failing in the Digital Age and How We Can Do Better.  She is the founder and former Executive Director of Code for America. She served as U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer from June 2013 to June 2014 and helped found the United States Digital Service. Forbes recognized her as among “America’s Top 50 Women in Tech”, among other accolades. 

“As I detail in my book, Americans need to reexamine how we build the systems that give ordinary citizens access to government services. In short, we need to modernize so that we reduce our threat surface and provide better services. I see my work at FAS as a continuation of this important need, making sure that Americans have the digital infrastructure they deserve,” says Pahlka.

Kathy Stack is an independent consultant who advises non-profit organizations, foundations, research organizations, and government officials on strategies to advance cross-program innovation and evidence-based decision-making in health, human services, education, and other social programs. She spent nearly three decades in government service in the White House Office of Management and Budget. She is also a Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Tobin Center for Economic Policy and a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. 

“Too many promising policy initiatives have stumbled in recent decades because policymakers haven’t anticipated the bureaucratic and cultural barriers that stand in their way.  To succeed, bold and necessary policy reforms require creative collaboration between policymakers and savvy civil servants who know how government rules and processes can become enablers, not blockers, of innovation,” says Stack.

Peter Bonner is a public, non-profit, and private sector innovator. He led federal agencies tasked with hiring the technical, management, and staff talent to implement the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act from his role as the Associate Director, HR Solutions at Office of Personnel Management. This resulted in hiring, in less than two years, more than 5,500 specialists to help build roads, bridges, cell towers, water treatment facilities, and semiconductor plants. As OPM’s HR Solutions team executive, Peter led customer experience innovation that helped federal agencies recruit, hire, train, and manage the performance of the federal workforce.

“Federal workers are the heroes of our society. The work they do every day keeps us safe, helps us get to where we want to go, keeps our economy moving forward, provides us safe food, pharmaceuticals and drinking water, and combats the threats of climate change. The quality of our lives is better because of them. It is an honor to support them in everything they do,” says Bonner.


ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Applauds Biden-Harris Administration’s Tech Hub Designations in 31 Communities Across the Country, Spurring Regional Science and Technology Entrepreneurship

Tech Hub designation, from the bipartisan CHIPS & Science Act, will play a role in tomorrow’s economic strength and resiliency, says the Federation.

Washington, DCOctober 23, 2023 – The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) today announced their congratulations to the 31 communities across the United States designated as Tech Hubs by the Biden-Harris administration. This designation will bring together private industry, state and local governments, institutions of higher education, labor unions, Tribal communities and nonprofit organizations to compete for up to $75 million in implementation grants to make transformative investments in innovation, supply chain resilience, and job creation. There were 370 applications spanning 49 states and four U.S. territories.

“This is a bipartisan moment years in the making, and one our community has been anxiously awaiting and planning for,” says Melissa Roberts Chapman, the director of Ecosystems and Entrepreneurship at FAS. “Emerging industries rooted in science and technology are the foundation of our future economic competitiveness. Tech Hubs is so important because absent its catalyzing force, too many communities risk missing out on the opportunities for shared prosperity that they represent. Central to this success is the potential for cluster development in regions across the nation.”

“This funding is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to expand on the growing economic development rooted in science and technology,” says Dan Correa, CEO of FAS. “The Tech Hubs program owes its existence to fiercely bipartisan support in Congress, and the winning communities defy partisan categorization – large and small, rural and urban. It’s my hope that today’s awardees represent just the beginning; but for the program to reach its lasting potential Congress needs to fund Tech Hubs for the long term.”

Correa continues: “This is an ambitious policy on a massive scale, led by the communities themselves. Its success will turn on proper implementation, strategies for including communities and workers often left behind, and the bets that communities are placing on their own core competitive strengths.”

Tech Hubs designation includes regions with companies focused on semiconductors, clean energy, critical minerals, biotechnology, precision medicine, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. It is a strong endorsement of a region’s plan to build an economic ecosystem on emerging science and technology. A complete list and map of winners is available at the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s website, here.

FAS continues to strongly support the CHIPS & Science Act for its record investment across scientific and technology disciplines. On November 15th the think tank will award this year’s FAS Public Service Award to Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Todd Young (R-IN) for their work in Congress making the CHIPS & Science Act a reality. Among the other award honorees will be filmmaker Christopher Nolan for his cinematic portrait of scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer. 

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Announces Public Service Awards Recognizing Outstanding Work in Science Policy and Culture

The Federation will spotlight filmmaker Christopher Nolan for Oppenheimer, Senators Schumer and Young for passage of the bipartisan CHIPS & Science Act, and other established and emerging science policy leaders.

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) today announced they will host their awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on November 15th – reviving a decades-long tradition that first started in 1971. This year, honorees include filmmaker Christopher Nolan for his cinematic portrait of scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Todd Young (R-IN) for their work in Congress making the CHIPS & Science Act a reality.

“Nolan’s film depicts the scientists who formed FAS in the fall of 1945 as the ‘Federation of Atomic Scientists’ to communicate the dangers of nuclear weapons to the public. We continue to pursue their vision of a safer world, especially as current events remind us that those dangers are real and resurgent,” FAS CEO Daniel Correa said. “FAS also believes that science, technology, and innovation have vast potential to solve the biggest challenges of our time. To that end, we’re also recognizing Senators Schumer and Young, because the CHIPS & Science Act represents an historic investment in this country’s future. It is an honor to present these awards to director Nolan and Senators Schumer and Young.” 

FAS will also honor former OSTP acting director Dr. Alondra Nelson, for her leadership on both A.I. regulation and advancing equity in STEM fields, and Alexa White, who will receive FAS’ first ever “Policy Entrepreneurship” award – aimed at honoring an emerging leader in the world of science policy.

The FAS Public Service Awards honors the contributions of a diverse group of scientists, policymakers, and tastemakers in pursuit of advancements in science and technology. Previous winners of the award include: Senators Ted Kennedy, Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar and Secretaries Henry Kissinger, George Schultz and William Perry, and author Carl Sagan, editor Ruth Adams, and activist Sally Lillenthal. 

ABOUT FAS

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.

FAS Taps Jon B. Wolfsthal as New Director of Global Risk

The Federation of American Scientists is excited to welcome Jon B. Wolfsthal as the organization’s new Director of Global Risk. The Global Risk will encompass nuclear policy, FAS’ longstanding Nuclear Information Project, along with other emerging global threats.

“We could not be more thrilled to be bringing on a leader with Jon’s dedication, knowledge and experience,” FAS CEO Dan Correa said. “We take FAS’ legacy of leadership in nuclear policy and transparency extremely seriously, especially at a time when the threat to the world seems to be resurgent. Our Nuclear Information Project continues to be a globally-renowned source of information on nuclear weapons for both world governments and the public, and Jon will help take the work even further. His track record as a leading thinker on global threats will also help FAS tackle emerging policy challenges as well.”

Hans Kristensen, Director of FAS’ Nuclear Information Project, added, “I have long admired Jon’s insights and intellect when it comes to nuclear policy and arms control. His resume speaks for itself – we can’t wait to start working with him at FAS.”

Jon B. Wolfsthal most recently served as a senior adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security in the Transatlantic Security Program.  He is also a member of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and a member of the US Department of State’s International Security Advisory Board.  He served previously as senior advisor to Global Zero in Washington, DC.

Before 2017, Mr. Wolfsthal served as Special Assistant to President of the United States Barack Obama for National Security Affairs and is a former senior director at the National Security Council for arms control and nonproliferation.  He also served from 2009-2012 as Special Advisor to Vice President Joseph R. Biden for nuclear security and nonproliferation and as a director for nonproliferation on the National Security Council.  

During his government service, Mr. Wolfsthal has been involved in almost every aspect of U.S. nuclear weapons, deterrence, arms control, nonproliferation policy.  He helped negotiate and secure the ratification of the New START arms reduction agreement with the Russian Federation, helped develop nuclear policy including through the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review.  He has worked on efforts to secure vulnerable nuclear materials, helped guide U.S. nuclear weapons targeting and deterrent policies, and supported efforts to prevent the acquisition and use of nuclear weapons by North Korea and Iran.  He also served as a career civil servant at the U.S. Department of Energy from 1995-1999 in a variety of capacities, including the on-site nuclear monitor at Yongbyon, North Korea during 1995-96.

Aside from his government work, Wolfsthal has served as Deputy Director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies in Monterey.  He has also been a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and was deputy director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  

With Joseph Cirincione, he is the author of Deadly Arsenals: Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction and a leading authority on nuclear weapons policy, regional proliferation, arms control and nuclear deterrence.  He is author of the Trillion Dollar Nuclear Triad, and the editor of the Nuclear Status Report.  He is the author of dozens of scholarly articles, reports and scores of op-eds and published thought pieces, and has appeared on or been quoted in most leading domestic and international news media outlets (New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, CNN, NPR. BBC, CBC, VOA, etc). 

Wolfsthal officially joins FAS in October 2023.

FAS Launches ‘FRO-casting’ Tournament on Metaculus to Solicit Ideas for Focused Research Organizations (FROs)

FROs focus efforts on technology challenges that require coordinated and cross-disciplinary pursuits at the boundary of research and engineering

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS), one of the oldest science think tanks in Washington, and Metaculus, a forecasting and modeling platform, today announced the opening of the ‘FRO-casting’ tournament to test a new approach for evaluating scientific proposals. 

This pilot program applies an expected value the forecasting methodology developed by FAS and Metaculus to proposals for Focused Research Organizations (FROs) in the life sciences, sourced by Convergent Research. FROs are envisioned as standalone, time-limited non-profit organizations organized like a startup to solve well-defined technical challenges that are neither profitable nor publishable. Their goal is to produce vital public goods: processes, tools, and datasets that are actively translated into use by others, to enable new methods and accelerate the pace of scientific research. 

This is a public tournament in which forecasts will be produced by the Metaculus community and subject-matter experts identified by FAS. 

The ‘FRO-casting’ challenge is open to subject matter experts, scientists, forecasters, decision makers, and the public. It is free to participate.

This effort aims to provide (a) quantitative assessments of the risk-reward profile of each FRO proposal that can inform agency decision-making, (b) actionable insight to proposal authors regarding their approach, and (c) new metascientific understanding of forecasting in scientific review.

“It is difficult to balance science agencies’ dual mission of protecting government funding from being spent on overly risky investments while also being ambitious in funding proposals that will push the frontiers of science,” writes FAS Senior Associate Alice Wu, “We at FAS are exploring innovative approaches to peer review to help tackle this challenge.” Ms. Wu is one of the leaders of this challenge, along with FAS colleague Jordan Dworkin, Metascience Program Lead.