The country's return on its investment has been phenomenal -- from
the discovery by NSF-supported scientists of how bacteria develop and
retain resistance to antibiotics, to the design of the computer framework
that evolved into the Internet.
NSF and taxpayers also have received a remarkable return on their
investment at The Field Museum, which has received $16 million from the
agency since 1990. Following its inception, NSF has supported hundreds of
research projects in the Museum's geology, botany, anthropology and zoology
departments. These NSF-supported projects have probed everything from the
role El Niño plays in the evolution of desert plant communities in Peru to
the rise of "modern" precolonial cities and societies on the Swahili Coast
of East Africa. Currently, NSF is supporting 15 research projects at the
Museum, including zoological studies in South America and geochemical
analyses of meteorites in Chicago.
The Museum also has used NSF grants to maintain and improve its
research collections - the scientific athenaeum in which our curators have
found answers to the world's most complex biological and cultural
mysteries. For example, with NSF's support we have created computerized
inventories of many of our zoological collections and thereby increased
their utility to others. Similarly, the anthropology department is using
NSF funds to recatalog and computerize its collection of Anasazi and
Mogollon artifacts. When completed, this project will enable researchers to
paint a more complete picture of these two early Native American cultures.
Additionally, we have relied on NSF funds over the years to hire
and train graduate students to work alongside our curators in the field,
and we have turned to NSF for assistance in developing programs designed to
train undergraduate women and minorities in collections-based research. The
main goals of this program are to encourage undergraduates to pursue
careers in the biological sciences and to prepare them for service in the
name of science.
During the 1990s, we also received more than $4 million from NSF
that has helped us create a host of new exhibits, including Pacific (1990),
Animal Kingdom (1991), Africa (1993) and Life Over Time (1994). More
recently, NSF provided $1.6 million toward the funding of Underground
Adventure, a new permanent exhibit that explores the complex world of soil
ecosystems. Not only do we rely on NSF support to create these exhibits,
but also to design educational outreach programs to carry their scientific
and cultural message to school children throughout the Chicago area.
In all, NSF has been an invaluable partner in our constant drive to
understand the biological and human world. Moreover, I believe that this
nation would not be the
technological and economic powerhouse it is today if it were not for NSF's
half century of service.
NSF, we thank you for all the years you have supported our programs
and we look forward to celebrating your next milestone in 2050.