by Christopher Eisgruber
Relief and appreciation swept our research community earlier today as Congress passed a monumental bipartisan bill designed to shore up the U.S. research enterprise and boost America’s economic and strategic competitiveness.
You could all but hear the cheers across Route 1 at the Energy Department’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), where development of clean fusion energy is poised to benefit from The CHIPS and Science Act. Years in the making, this bill also authorizes increased support for one of Princeton’s biggest federal funders, the National Science Foundation, and targets research sectors that are areas of strength and priority for us, such as quantum science and microelectronics.
With their votes and with the encouragement of the Biden Administration, a bipartisan majority of lawmakers have signaled their recognition that America’s global leadership and economic security depend more than ever on a strong foundation of government-funded university research.
Among the many highlights in this bill for the Princeton community:
- $36 billion more over five years in authorized funds for the National Science Foundation, which supports basic research across all science and engineering disciplines.
- Reauthorization of the Energy Department’s Office of Science, a key federal partner funding Princeton research in areas including biofuels, plasma physics, high-energy physics, and quantum computing.
- A newly authorized microelectronics program at the Energy Department that can help PPPL expand its work in nanofabrication.
- Establishment of an Energy Department high-performance computing research program focused on fusion, as well as an associated innovation center. As PPPL Director Steve Cowley noted in his testimony before the House Science Committee in 2021, high-performance computing has revolutionized fusion science and will be critical as we look to fusion electricity.
I’m also grateful for lawmakers’ careful navigation of research security policy, which must maintain maximal international collaboration—a lifeblood of U.S. innovation and a huge competitive advantage—while also effectively defending against rising threats from abroad.