Maria T. Zuber, vice president for research at M.I.T., writes that amid the turbulence in Washington, "It’s easy to miss the fact that part of what’s at stake is America’s dominance in science, engineering, and innovation."
"Scientific and technological leadership doesn’t happen by accident," she writes in an opinion piece for The New York Times. "It results from an open political and competitive economic system, from a commitment to recruit and train top talent from all social and economic levels, and from sustained investment."
"Since World War II, federal investment in research has been a key to keeping the United States at the forefront," she adds. "Federal dollars have enabled scientists and engineers to investigate advanced ideas and the most unlikely technical solutions, to develop new knowledge before it’s clear whether it will be profitable.
"That new knowledge has revolutionized health care, spawned new businesses and created the digital world."
Saying that other nations are challenging our lead by copying the United State model, Zuber calls on the federal government "to respond with farsighted strategic investment in key aspects of technology, science and education."
"That will be impossible if government spending caps remain too tight or if agencies are hamstrung for months by fiscal stalemate," she concludes. "To write the next great chapter in the story of our nation, we must continue to fuel discovery."