NSF (National Science Foundation)
The National Science Foundation (NSF) directs and funds science research. An independent agency in the United States government, the NSF was established May 10, 1950, by passage of the National Science Foundation Act. Subsequent amendments to the act granted the NSF further authority to develop, fund, and oversee research in the government, academic, and industrial sectors.
The stated mission of the National Science Foundation is to promote scientific research that aids national health and prosperity, and protects national security interests. The foundation endeavors to foster communication and cooperation in the national and global science communities. A president-appointed director, deputy director, and eight assistant directors govern the agency. The foundation is further staffed by the twenty-four member National Science Board.
The NSF grants student fellowships for graduate studies in the sciences, medicine, and engineering, and sponsors post-doctoral research opportunities. Research programs backed by the NSF range in scope from disease research to space exploration. The foundation also develops science education programs for school-aged children, and cosponsors symposia, conferences, and seminars for college students and professional researchers. In conjunction with independent researchers, professional organizations, government agencies, and international scholars, the NSF publishes and revises a code of ethical research practices.
The NSF often works in conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an organization within the Department of Defense, to develop research projects with military, intelligence, and national security interests. In 2001, the two organizations cosponsored research concerning government computer systems and data security. While NSF may aid research with implications on national security and military technology, DARPA is responsible for classified weapons and technology research.
As a response to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the NSF has increased its backing of scientific research beneficial to counterterrorism. Studying epidemic disease, combating the effects of biological and chemical weapons, water and soil safety, and developing better information protection systems are some of the present science- and engineering-related national security issues addressed by NSF sponsored research.
█ FURTHER READING:
National Science Foundation. < http://www.nsf.gov > (15 January 2003).