Fultz Group Opinions

Miscellaneous text and comments that don't fit anywhere else.

The Honorable Pete V. Domenici
Chairman, Senate Appropriations Energy and Water
Development Subcommittee
SH-328 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC

Dear Senator Domenici :

Much of the present success of the U.S. economy derives from technological advances in the physical sciences. Without transistors there would be no internet. A large fraction of economic investment in the past few years has been in computer systems, which have proven their worth in U.S. competitiveness.

It would seem prudent to invest in the scientific infrastructure that has contributed so much to our present economic success. I am therefore dismayed by these budget numbers for the Basic Energy Science program of the Dept. of Energy, and agency that funds about half of the research in physical sciences including physics, chemistry, and my own field of materials science:

FY00 FY01(President) FY01(House) FY01(Senate)

772 1008 791 915 (M$)

This might look like an improved budget for next year, except for the fact that a large piece (100-200 M$) is intended for construction of the Spallation Neutron Source. In other words, the actual money to invest in scientific research would decrease considerably in FY01 under the House budget, and decrease under the Senate's.

I am a Professor at the California Institute of Technology who travels regularly to Los Alamos, New Mexico with my Ph.D. students for neutron scattering experiments. I wish I could make these trips more regularly, but the lack of financial support is withering the activities at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center.

At universities such as mine, most all of the DOE research funding is used to pay meager stipends to Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows who are interested in the physical sciences and engineering. These are the persons who will design the transistors of the future. I hope you agree that they are important for the future success U.S. economy, and their education should be a national priority.

Please restore the DOE science budget to the level of the President's request.

Yours truly,

The Honorable Ron Packard

2372 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515-0548

Dear Representative Packard:

Much of the strength of the U.S. economy derives from scientific advances over the past 50 years. Federal investment in scientific research should be increasing, ensuring a better life for future Californians.

The science program of DOE plays a role in this economic development. I am a Professor of Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology, and have ongoing research support from DOE. Most of this money is used to pay for modest stipends for graduate students working on their Ph.D. degrees. Several of these students have gone on to develop metallization and etch procedures for integrated circuit fabrication at companies like Motorola, Applied Materials, and Texas Instruments. Without DOE science funding this would not have been possible in their cases.

I hope you will agree that the support of DOE science as a good investment in the future of California and the United States.

Yours truly,

c.c.: Dr. Neal Lane, OSTP

Dr. James Decker, Office of Science, DOE

Letter sent to our U. S. Senator

The Honorable Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Dear Senator Barbara Boxer:

I believe that you as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee can have an important impact on the future of the economy of California. High technology is an important sector of our economy, and one with great future potential. As a working materials scientist and university professor at Caltech, I am concerned that the long-term investment in the science and engineering infrastructure of California and the U.S. has been neglected. For example, in my own field of metallic materials, over the past ten years much of the scientific leadership has passed to Japan and Europe. I expect that the effects of this shift will become evident in the advanced materials sector of the world economy in about a decade. I do not expect a catastrophe, but there will be areas of industrial leadership where California would not be so strong as it could have been.

The universities and national laboratories in California are the best in the U.S., and are quite capable of competing for federal research funds without earmarking or other forms of special assistance. The problem, of course, is that these funds have been thinning since about 1989, and the Clinton budget does little to improve this situation. I believe that the proposals by George Brown and Phil Gramm are more appropriate for the national interest. I urge you to consider seriously the proposal for a 7% increase in research budgets for DOE, NSF, NASA, and NIST.

I understand that any increase in spending, however small, goes counter to the important efforts to balance the federal budget. However, long-term iinvestments in science and technology infrastructure are just the sort of spending that will insure a better future for California and the U.S.


Brent Fultz
Prof. of Materials Science

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