Archive of articles published in the 2006 issue.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Computational and Information Science

At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, computational science is the foundation upon which this Department of Energy research and development laboratory depends to solve some of the greatest challenges our nation faces in national security, the environment and life sciences. That’s a tall order. But that’s what we do at PNNL. And that work would be impossible without the Computational and Information Sciences Directorate (CISD). CISD provides the tools, and the computing and networking infrastructure, our scientists and engineers rely on to be successful. Whether the tools address climate modeling, handling huge data flows in biology and proteomics or modeling the impact of new energy systems, computation is an integral piece of delivering science-based solutions.

Geographic Shackles and the Academic Careers of Women

Last spring, three of my women friends compared life stories at our 20th college reunion. They had all chosen the academic path in mathematics and computer science. While seemingly successful, it turned out that each felt unsatisfied to some degree. The first had left her tenured position because she hated the atmosphere; a tenured position at another university requires a move, so she has settled for being an independent researcher and consultant. The second had an exhausting commute; she was pessimistically contemplating her options in finding work closer to home. The third was happy in her job at a prestigious department, but she had yet to get tenure; and, as the tenure-track rat race took precedence over her biological clock, she was still childless in her early forties.

Industrial-Academic Agreement on Open Collaboration

A coalition of computing research companies and universities recently announced an agreement on ‘Open Collaboration’ principles designed to facilitate open source distribution of research results. The parties to the agreement intend this model to be used to handle intellectual property rights arising from certain software-related collaborations between the industrial and academic partners. It is hoped that the existence of this template for IP agreements will expedite sponsored research agreements.

The Future of American Innovation: The Gathering Storm

In response to a Congressional request and stimulated by a set of earlier studies (notably the National Innovation Initiative’s “Innovate America” report), the National Academies recently issued a report entitled “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Future.” This report was produced in response to growing concern that a weakening of U.S. leadership (and, by extension, North American leadership) in science and technology would jeopardize future prosperity. This concern was based on the fact that a major fraction of economic growth in recent decades has been a direct consequence of prior investment in basic research.

GENI and Your Research

GENI (Global Environment for Networking Innovations) is an advanced experimental infrastructure and accompanying research program being planned by CISE to explore new capabilities that will advance innovations in many areas.

Drop in CS Bachelor’s Degree Production

CRA’s Taulbee Survey of Ph.D.-granting Computer Science (CS) and Computer Engineering departments in North America has been conducted annually since 1974. Results from the most recent survey were provided to participants and CRA members in February. They will be published on CRA’s website ( and in Computing Research News in May. Due to widespread interest, CRA releases data on undergraduate degrees early. This article reports on CS bachelor’s degree enrollments and production among Ph.D.-granting departments in the United States since the late 1990s. In order to limit the effect of variations in response rates, data are reported in both total numbers and medians per department. Results from the Taulbee Survey should be compared with data produced by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which surveys all institutions that grant CS degrees. NSF’s most recent data are from academic year (AY) 2000/2001. Traditionally, the Taulbee Survey’s Ph.D.-granting schools have produced a little less than 30 percent of the undergraduate CS degrees reported by NSF.

Congress Provides Symbolic Increase for NSF

After a year’s worth of warning that the final funding levels for American science agencies would likely be austere, congressional appropriators surprised many in the science community by passing a slate of funding bills that would have increased funding slightly for federal research at several agencies, including a 3 percent increase at the National Science Foundation. However, the increases proved to be symbolic as Congress, under pressure to reduce federal discretionary spending in the wake of unanticipated payouts to areas hard-hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, passed an across-the-board 1.0 percent reduction in all FY 2006 appropriations, including those already enacted, eliminating much—and in some cases all—of the approved spending increases for science.