I was honored to be invited to testify before the U.S. Senate in late October. The Senate subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather conducted a hearing titled, “Research and Innovation: Ensuring America’s Economic and Strategic Leadership.” The hearing was held as a forum to discuss America’s role in global competitiveness and leadership, with a focus on advancing innovative science and technology research and development.
Much of my testimony centered around the roles that leading research universities must play in cultivating synergistic alliances between academia, government agencies, and corporates. I touched on key areas I believe are necessary to advancing S&T aspirations that will have a direct impact on the economic and national security of the U.S.
A strong research and development ecosystem
A robust research environment in academia and industry, supported by an ambitious investment strategy, will guarantee a vibrant innovation economy for our nation. It is critical that we seed large-scale foundational research with significant societal impact to realize this goal.
A strong learner ecosystem
Nurturing a STEM-educated workforce of citizens who identify as lifelong learners must be a national priority. This is especially vital in an ever-changing workplace environment augmented by automation and human-machine collaboration. Lifelong learning, upskilling and reskilling are ways to stay engaged in the workforce, and engaged in world.
A strong partnership ecosystem
Partnerships are vital to furthering our nation’s competitiveness, leadership position, and prosperity. This requires cultivation of collaborations comprised of educators, businesses, and local, state, and federal government agencies.
A strong economic development ecosystem
A healthy environment for economic development must be nurtured through basic scientific research rapidly translated to the marketplace. This will arise from bold translational research, corporate partnerships with seamless technology transfer, and incubation of business ventures via interagency cooperation.
As an academic, researcher, and scientist, I have always told my students that while knowledge and skillsets are critical elements of learning, mindsets are equally as important, which is a philosophy I also shared with the Senate subcommittee. A creative, entrepreneurial, adaptable mindset positions learners from all walks of life to be inventive, visualize outcomes, and approach problem-solving from a myriad of directions throughout the course of their lives.
If you are interested in gaining deeper insight into how issues related to higher education advance the critical fields of science and technology, particularly at the national level, I invite you to read or watch the full testimony here.
Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan
Executive vice president, and
Chief research and innovation officer
Arizona State University