The Critical Importance of Science to US Government Operations and Policy Making: Examples and Current Dangers
February 6, 2020
Karl Braithwaite, Ed Hildebrand, Arvid Lundy and Cheryl Rofer
While it’s true that scientific research has permeated much of what the federal government has done over the years, is it still important? If so, why? In a recent New York Times article entitled “Science Under Attack: How Trump is Sidelining Scientists and Their Work,” reporters Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport outline the current state of science, scientists and scientific research being conducted at the federal level. Plumer and Davenport present – at best – a mixed picture. A few agencies or programs are being allowed to continue as in previous administrations but others are being gutted, severely restricted or redirected in what they can or can’t do and fund or not fund. What does this mean for America’s scientific cutting edge and for effective policy development and conduct of government programs?
Karl Braithwaite is a specialist in the relationship between science and government; a former Director of Government Relations for Sandia and Senior Manager for Los Alamos National Laboratories having dealt with national security issues, environment and energy topics, and science and technology policy issues over the years retiring from public service after 49 years; and Dean of the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. Currently a leader in the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, his PhD in political science is from the University of Wisconsin.
Ed Hildebrand has multidisciplinary experience in the biosciences and in national and international science and technology policy analysis. After earning a Ph.D. in biophysics from the Pennsylvania State University, he joined the Los Alamos National Laboratory where his research focused on the international human genome project. While at LANL he also served in postings to the Foreign Service as Science Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in London and to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. More recently, Ed was a science and engineering analyst with a not for profit national and homeland security contractor. He is currently a member of the Santa Fe World Affairs Forum Board.
Arvid Lundy has extensive experience in nuclear export controls, nuclear proliferation intelligence, electronic instrumentation design, and clinical medical physics. Arvid spent thirty one years at Los Alamos National Laboratory as project engineer, group leader, and program manager. His career included over 100 foreign trips for the US government on nuclear issues, especially international nuclear export control. He is Vice President of the Santa Fe World Affairs Forum.
Cheryl Rofer was a chemistat the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 35 years. She now writes scientific and political commentary for the web publications Nuclear Diner and Balloon Juice. She regularly provides background information on nuclear topics to reporters and has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Vox. Her work at Los Alamos included projects in fossil fuels, laser development, and the nuclear fuel cycle and has worked on environmental remediation at Los Alamos and in Estonia and Kazakhstan. She is past president of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security and a founding member of SFWAF. She has published in scientific and political science journals and edited a book. She holds an A.B. from Ripon College and an M.S. from the University of California at Berkeley. She has spoken to SFWAF on several previous occasions, most recently on the Iran Nuclear Agreement.