The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization that contracts with the government to answer important questions related to science and science policy. Whenever someone has a question that hinges on science, and this someone could be a federal agency, Congress, or sometimes a private group, the Academies will pull together experts in the fields relevant to the question, facilitate their discussion and meetings until they come to a consensus, and then issue a report. Here are some recent famous National Academies Reports:
Rising Above the Gathering Storm has seen a considerable amount of attention in recent weeks as it is directly related to increasing innovation and boosting the American economy using science. The report is one of the reasons the stimulus bill in Congress now contains a large increase in funding for science and education. Nancy Pelosi summed up how important she thinks basic research is to the economy when she described the focus of the bill as, "science, science, science, and science."
So what am I working on? As it turns out, all Academies proceedings are confidential except for the final reports, so I can't tell you in that much detail. I can say that I am mainly focused on two projects: a review of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's education programs and a workshop on the use of gaming and simulations in science education. I'll be researching and writing summaries of NOAA education programs, helping to find people for the gaming committee, and aiding in the setup of a NOAA committee meeting.
In addition to my work on the Board, I hope to be attending congressional hearings, going to think tank seminars, and generally learning all about how science policy gets made around this town.