Table of Contents
Earth Sciences Education Engineering Environmental Issues Health and Medicine New at the National Academies Upcoming Events and Open Meetings Policy and Research Issues

Earth Sciences

Desalination Could Boost U.S. Water Supplies

Recent technological advances have made removing salt from seawater and groundwater a realistic option for increasing water supplies in some parts of the U.S., and desalination will likely have a niche in meeting the nation's future water needs, says a new report from the National Research Council. A federally coordinated research effort is needed to understand and lessen desalination's environmental impacts and further lower its costs.

Back to top

Report Release: Recovering from Disaster

A Summary of the October 17, 2007 Workshop of the Disasters Roundtable: disaster recovery is a complex and challenging process that involves all sectors of a community as well as outside interests. In many cases, it is not even clear if and when recovery has been achieved because of varying stakeholder goals for the community. This workshop considered what has been learned about disaster recovery, which has been understudied in comparison to the emergency and other phases of disasters, from both scientific research and the experience of policy makers and practitioners.

Back to top


Summit Gauges Progress on Math and Science Education, Competitiveness

At a national convocation held April 29th, leaders from government, business, and education weighed how much progress has been made in bolstering math and science education and strengthening the nation's research enterprise since the National Academies released their 2005 report Rising Above the Gathering Storm.

Back to top


State Science and Technology Policy Advice: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges: Summary of a National Convocation

The federal government plays the predominant role in supporting research and development (R&D) and in establishing public policies that affect science and technology (S&T) in the United States. However, state and local policy makers are unquestionably making more and more decisions that affect all of us on a daily basis. With this shift, states have also assumed an increasing responsibility for developing, formalizing, and institutionalizing policies and programs that support R&D and enable S&T evidence and expertise to be incorporated into policy making. These issues were explored during a first-of-its-kind National Convocation in which scientists, engineers, state policy makers, experts from state regulatory agencies, representatives from foundations, and experts in scientific communication from 20 states and the District of Columbia participated in this event.

Back to top

Environmental Issues

Link Between Ozone Pollution and Premature Death Confirmed

In many areas, short-term exposure to current levels of ozone, a key component of smog, is likely to contribute to premature deaths, and deaths are more likely among individuals with pre-existing diseases or other susceptibility factors, says a new National Research Council report. Future research should examine whether longer-term exposure -- weeks to years -- is also associated with premature death.

Back to top

Health and Medicine

Efforts Needed to Expand Health Care Work Force for Aging Nation

Aging Americans will face a health care work force that is too small and woefully unprepared to meet their specific health needs unless efforts start now to ensure all health care providers know how to treat the common conditions associated with aging and to boost recruitment and retention of geriatric specialists and direct- care aides, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine.

Back to top

Knowing What Works in Health Care: A Roadmap for the Nation

There is currently heightened interest in optimizing health care through the generation of new knowledge on the effectiveness of health care services. The United States must substantially strengthen its capacity for assessing evidence on what is known and not known about "what works" in health care. Knowing What Works in Health Care looks at the three fundamental health care issues in the United States--setting priorities for evidence assessment, assessing evidence (systematic review), and developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines--and how each of these contributes to the end goal of effective, practical health care systems.

Back to top

National Discussion Needed on Antiviral Drug Distribution During a Flu Pandemic

Uncertainties about availability and effectiveness of antiviral drugs against the next pandemic strain of flu virus require officials to begin a national discussion about the difficult choices they may be forced to make about the drugs' distribution in the event of an outbreak, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine.

Back to top

New at the National Academies

Marian Koshland Science Museum Forms Partnership With Science Centre Singapore

In a new collaboration, the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences is licensing several components of its global warming and infectious diseases exhibits to the Science Centre Singapore. The partnership marks an expansion of the museum's efforts to bring its work to international audiences by teaming up with other museums and science centers around the world.

Back to top

Upcoming Events and Open Meetings

EVENT: Partnerships for Sustainability: Examining the Evidence, A Symposium

The U.S. National Academies' Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability will convene a symposium to examine the multi-stakeholder partnership record in addressing issues associated with sustainability. The symposium, June 18th through 19th, will focus on the challenges that the partnerships have addressed, including: involvement of several sectors, action at varying scales, from local to global, a combination of public and private financing, and a complex set of science questions.

Back to top

EVENT: Review of National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program Meal Patterns and Standards

A multidisciplinary committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) will be convened, June 10th through 11th, to review and make recommendations regarding appropriate nutrition standards for the availability, sale, content, and consumption of foods and beverages at school, with attention given to foods and beverages offered in competition with federally- reimbursable meals and snacks.

Back to top

Policy and Research Issues

NAS President Delivers Speech on Energy

In his annual address to members of the Academy on April 28th, NAS President Ralph Cicerone said "we must change the trajectories of our energy usage and energy sources." Calling energy a pervasive issue, Cicerone added, "a great deal of innovative and determined work is needed by scientists and engineers in the years ahead" to meet energy challenges.

Back to top