February 21, 2008
Vol. 27 No. 10

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    Zimmer, other leaders advocate for basic science research funding

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    President Zimmer and a coalition of nearly a dozen industry and university leaders visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Feb. 12 to advocate funding increases for basic science research, including the National Laboratory System.

    On the coalition’s agenda was both a $500 million supplemental appropriation in FY2008 for the DOE Office of Science and the National Science Foundation, and for a larger FY2009 budget for the agencies.

    The coalition represented the Association of American Universities and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.

    Despite gathering bipartisan support for increased federal investment in basic science, the 2008 fiscal year omnibus funding bill resulted in significant cutbacks across the national laboratory system. Cuts in the funding bill have resulted in layoffs and furloughs at both Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

    Argonne director Robert Rosner and Fermilab director Pier Oddone have contributed to parallel efforts aimed at communicating to lawmakers the importance of basic science research to the nation’s future. Oddone participated in a Jan. 30 meeting of the Universities Research Association’s Council of Presidents in Washington, D.C., where they discussed ways to rally support for basic science funding.

    Rosner and Oddone will meet Thursday, Feb. 28 to present a joint Fermilab-Argonne briefing to Illinois congressional delegation members and their staffs.

    The URA and the University created the Fermi Research Alliance, LLC in 2006 to manage Fermilab under contract for the U.S. Department of Energy. Similarly, the University formed UChicago Argonne, LLC in 2006 to manage Argonne under contract for the DOE. The University has managed Argonne since the laboratory’s founding in 1946.