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Institute to Host Science Policy Discussion Today

By Jeremy Hylton
Technology Director

Nearly two hundred scientists and government officials, including President Clinton's science adviser, will be meeting today in the Bartos Theater at the Media Laboratory to discuss the nation's science policy.

President Charles M. Vest will host leaders from academia, industry, and government in a day-long forum entitled "Science in the National Interest: A Shared Commitment."

John H. Gibbons, assistant to the president for science and technology, will give the keynote address at 10:15 this morning. Gibbons will discuss funding for science as laid out in the Clinton budget plan, which was submitted to Congress yesterday.

Gibbons will also discuss developments in the national science policy that have occurred since the Clinton administration released the policy paper "Science in the National Interest" in August.

Gibbons will be joined by Joseph A. Miller, a senior vice president with E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., and Frank H. T. Rhodes, president of Cornell University, in an opening session chaired by Provost Mark S. Wrighton.

The official guests will likely fill the Bartos Theater, but a video screen will be set up in the Bartos lobby, according to MIT spokeswoman Kathleen Rowe.

Other speakers at the forum will include D. Allan Bromley, dean of engineering at Yale University and science adviser to President Bush, Anita K. Jones, director of defense research and engineering at the Department of Defense, and Leon E. Rosenberg, president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute.

Vest focuses on national policy

Since taking office in 1990, Vest has focused on science and research policy and on the changing role of research universities, particularly as research budgets have shrunk and the government has become increasingly skeptical of the importance of basic research.

"Synergy and common understanding among the universities, the federal government, and industry have been lost. They must be regained," Vest wrote in his 1994 President's Report

A renewed partnership between research universities and the government "requires that we look forward, not backward, and face the challenges of a new era," Vest wrote. "It requires that we set a good balance between immediate national needs and the long-term good of the country."

The government must provide strong funding for basic science research as a long-term investment, Vest said. And it must "work in partnership with private industry and academia to identify those areas of technological advancement that are most critical to the well-being of the nation," he wrote.

Sessions on research, education

After lunch, Jeremy R. Knowles, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences at Harvard University, will chair a session on "Basic Research and Industry: Perspectives on the Life, Physical, and Information Sciences."

The third session, "Education for our Future Industrial Needs" will be chaired by M. R. C. Greenwood, associate director for science in the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy.

At the closing session, Professor Ernest J. Moniz, head of the Department of Physics, will moderate a discussion, and Vest will give some closing remarks.

Individual talks will cover a wide range of issues. William F. Brinkman, a vice president at Bell Laboratories, will discuss the need for systems engineering, software, and advances in integrated circuit technology and photonics in order to deliver broadband telecommunications.

Sheila Tobias, a consultant to the Research Corp., will discuss changes she thinks are necessary in undergraduate science education, including the need to consider a science education as preparation for a wider range of career paths.

Several MIT professors and administrators will also participate in the forum. Chairman of the Corporation Paul E. Gray '54 and Dean of the School of Science Robert J. Birgeneau will make introductory remarks.

Professor Phillip A. Sharp, head of the Department of Biology, and 1993-94 Compton Lecturer John A. Armstrong, retired vice president for science and technology at IBM, will speak during the afternoon sessions.