5 Ways Obama’s New Budget Supports Science

President Obama’s proposed 2014 budget promises to keep up or expand most research funding.

(Image: © public domain)

The proposed 2014 budget released by the White House Wednesday (April 10) brings very good news for science: Beneath the budget, civilian research spending would swell by 9 percent from 2012 levels.

President Barack Obama’s budget offers a total of $143 billion for research and development (R&D), which include investments in energy, space exploration, preliminary research and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, climate and cybersecurity monitoring.

«The state of the R&D budget is fairly strong,» said John Holdren, assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of any office of Science and Technology Policy, throughout a briefing of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) earlier today.

Although the budget does include funding cuts, they are a lot more strategic compared to the sledgehammer approach of the sequester, the across-the-board cuts that took effect March 1. Listed below are five regions of research which will take center stage beneath the proposed budget.

1. Energy gets a turbo boost

The proposed 2014 budget provides $5 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science — a 5.7 percent increase over 2012 levels (all numbers make reference to 2012 funding, since the complete appropriations bills for 2013 weren’t enacted when the budget was drafted).

The funding shall go toward supporting clean energy and advanced manufacturing, promoting energy independence, coping with climate change and modernizing nuclear weapons systems. [The 10 Best Alternative Energy Bets]

«No area holds more promise than our investments in American energy,» Obama wrote in his budget message to Congress.

2. NASA heads for asteroids and Mars

Despite trying financial times, space exploration remains important for the elected president. NASA would receive $17.7 billion in discretionary funding beneath the proposed budget. Whereas the full total funding is 0.3 percent, or around $50 million, significantly less than 2012 amounts, it heals deep cuts to the agency under sequestration.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is optimistic. «The president’s budget means that america will stay the world’s leader in space exploration and scientific discovery for a long time to come while making critical advances in aeronautics to benefit the American public,» Bolden said in the OMB briefing.

With this funding, NASA plans to renew its space exploration efforts, supporting crew transportation to the International Space Station in addition to manned missions to an asteroid in 2025 and robotic and manned missions to Mars. Beneath the new budget, NASA is on the right track to launch the James Webb Space Telescope also, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, in 2018.

3. Push for STEM education and brain research

Preliminary research and education in STEM fields will dsicover their funding continue at current levels or increase beneath the proposed budget.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), which funds basic education and research in every fields of science and engineering, would receive $7.6 billion, an 8 percent increase from 2012 levels. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world’s largest supporter of biomedical research, would receive $31 billion in funding, a rise of just one 1.6 percent over 2012 levels.

Among other activities, the funding shall support research efforts in massive, complex datasets referred to as «big data,» funding for STEM education (specifically for minority students) and the brand new brain-mapping initiative announced by Obama the other day. Visionaries of BRAIN, which means Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies and was at first called the mind Activity Map (BAM) project, outlined their final goals in the journal Science in March. They needed a protracted effort to build up tools for monitoring up to million neurons at the same time. The finish goal is to comprehend how brain networks function. [Inside the mind: AN IMAGE Journey Through Time]

4. Better cybersecurity

Given a growing reliance on digital data and communication, it isn’t surprising that the brand new budget highlights cybersecurity.

The budget proposal demands $830 million in funding for unclassified cybersecurity research across all networking and IT R&D groups, up $150 million from 2012.

«These increases reflect the high priority cybersecurity has in [the Obama] administration,» Patricia Falcone, the associate director of National Security & International Affairs at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said in the current briefing.

These funds will support efforts to handle current cybersecurity threats to the country, individuals and businesses.

5. Weather and climate research gets hotter

The proposed federal budget would continue steadily to support important efforts in climate monitoring and modeling.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is requesting $5.4 billion, which would add a total R&D budget of $733 million — $160 million a lot more than the 2012 allotment.

Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy demonstrate a dependence on accurate weather tracking and forecasting, and NOAA funding would go toward supporting satellite systems designed to allow this work.

NOAA plans to expand its climate research and ocean observation programs also. Holdren said these efforts were very good news, «because we do intend to continue being well-informed stewards of the world.»

Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Initial article on Live Science.

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5 Ways Obama’s New Budget Supports Science