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Life on Earth would be impossible without plants. Humans rely on plants for most clothing, furniture, food, as well as for many pharmaceuticals and other products. Plant genome sciences are essential to understanding how plants function and how to develop desirable plant characteristics. For example, plant genomic science can contribute to the development of plants that are drought-resistant, those that require less fertilizer, and those that are optimized for conversion to fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. The National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI) is a unique, cross-agency funding enterprise that has been funding and coordinating plant genome research successfully for nine years. Research breakthroughs from NPGI and the National Science Foundation™ (NSF) Arabidopsis 2010 Project, such as how the plant immune system controls pathogen defense, demonstrate that the plant genome science community is vibrant and capable of driving technological advancement. This book from the National Research Council concludes that these programs should continue so that applied programs on agriculture, bioenergy, and others will always be built on a strong foundation of fundamental plant biology research.
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is one of the largest examples of U.S. public-private partnerships. Founded in 1982, SBIR was designed to encourage small business to develop new processes and products and to provide quality research in support of the many missions of the U.S. government, including health, energy, the environment, and national defense. In response to a request from the U.S. Congress, the National Research Council assessed SBIR as administered by the five federal agencies that together make up 96 percent of program expenditures. This book, one of six in the series, reports on the SBIR program at the Department of Energy. It finds that, in spite of resource constraints, the DoE has made significant progress in meeting the legislative objectives of SBIR and that the program is effectively addressing the mission of the Department of Energy. The book documents the achievements and challenges of the program and recommends programmatic changes to make the SBIR program even more effective in achieving its legislative goals.
The Mississippi River is, in many ways, the nation's best known and most important river system. Mississippi River water quality is of paramount importance for sustaining the many uses of the river including drinking water, recreational and commercial activities, and support for the river's ecosystems and the environmental goods and services they provide. The Clean Water Act, passed by Congress in 1972, is the cornerstone of surface water quality protection in the United States, employing regulatory and nonregulatory measures designed to reduce direct pollutant discharges into waterways. The Clean Water Act has reduced much pollution in the Mississippi River from "point sources" such as industries and water treatment plants, but problems stemming from urban runoff, agriculture, and other "non-point sources" have proven more difficult to address. This book concludes that too little coordination among the 10 states along the river has left the Mississippi River an "orphan" from a water quality monitoring and assessment perspective. Stronger leadership from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is needed to address these problems. Specifically, the EPA should establish a water quality data-sharing system for the length of the river, and work with the states to establish and achieve water quality standards. The Mississippi River corridor states also should be more proactive and cooperative in their water quality programs. For this effort, the EPA and the Mississippi River states should draw upon the lengthy experience of federal-interstate cooperation in managing water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.
The U.S. government is faced with growing challenges to managing its facilities and infrastructure. A number of factors such as shrinking budgets, an aging workforce, and increasing costs demand new approaches to federal facilities management. The Federal Facilities Council of the NRC has sponsored a number of studies looking at ways to meet these challenges. This fourth study focuses on the people and skills that will needed to manage federal facilities in the next decade and beyond. The book presents a discussion of the current context of facilities management; an analysis of the forces affecting federal facilities asset management; an assessment of core competencies for federal facilities management; a comprehensive strategy for workforce development; and recommendations for implementing that strategy.
As part of the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE), NASA is planning for humans to revisit the Moon and someday go to Mars. An important consideration in this effort is protection against the exposure to space radiation. That radiation might result in severe long-term health consequences for astronauts on such missions if they are not adequately shielded. To help with these concerns, NASA asked the NRC to further the understanding of the risks of space radiation, to evaluate radiation shielding requirements, and recommend a strategic plan for developing appropriate mitigation capabilities. This book presents an assessment of current knowledge of the radiation environment; an examination of the effects of radiation on biological systems and mission equipment; an analysis of current plans for radiation protection; and a strategy for mitigating the risks to VSE astronauts.
Without major changes, the current air transportation system will be unable to accommodate the expected increase in demand by 2025. One proposal to address this problem is to use the Global Positioning System to enable aircraft to fly more closely spaced. This approach, however, might be limited by the wake turbulence problem, which can be a safety hazard when smaller aircraft follow relatively larger aircraft too closely. To examine how this potential hazard might be reduced, Congress in 2005 directed NASA to request a study from the NRC to assess the federal wake turbulence R&D program. This book provides a description of the problem, an assessment of the organizational challenges to addressing wake turbulence, an analysis of the technical challenges in wake turbulence, and a proposal for a wake turbulence program plan. A series of recommendations for addressing the wake turbulence challenge are also given.
Marine environments support the livelihoods, economies, and quality of life for communities around the world. But growth of coastal populations and increasing demands on marine resources are putting the future of ocean and coastal resources at risk through impacts such as overfishing, wetland drainage, climate change, and pollution of coastal waters. Given these demands, it is vital to build capacity--the people, the institutions, and technology and tools--needed to manage ocean resources. Unfortunately, many capacity building efforts focus on specific projects rather than on capacity building as goal unto itself, resulting in activities that are not funded or sustained past the typically short project lifetime. This book finds that the most successful capacity-building efforts meet the needs of a specific locale or region based on periodic assessments and include plans to maintain and expand capacity after the project ends. The report recommends ways that governments and organizations can help strengthen marine protection and management capacity, including conducting periodic program assessments, making plans to sustain funding, and developing leadership and political will. The book was produced at the request of Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the President's Circle of the National Academies, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, the Marisla Foundation, and the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation.
Drawing on the work of the Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine, the 2007 IOM Annual Meeting assessed some of the rapidly occurring changes in health care related to new diagnostic and treatment tools, emerging genetic insights, the developments in information technology, and healthcare costs, and discussed the need for a stronger focus on evidence to ensure that the promise of scientific discovery and technological innovation is efficiently captured to provide the right care for the right patient at the right time. As new discoveries continue to expand the universe of medical interventions, treatments, and methods of care, the need for a more systematic approach to evidence development and application becomes increasingly critical. Without better information about the effectiveness of different treatment options, the resulting uncertainty can lead to the delivery of services that may be unnecessary, unproven, or even harmful. Improving the evidence-base for medicine holds great potential to increase the quality and efficiency of medical care. The Annual Meeting, held on October 8, 2007, brought together many of the nation's leading authorities on various aspects of the issues - both challenges and opportunities - to present their perspectives and engage in discussion with the IOM membership.
National interests in greater energy independence, concurrent with favorable market forces, have driven increased production of corn-based ethanol in the United States and research into the next generation of biofuels. The trend is changing the national agricultural landscape and has raised concerns about potential impacts on the nation's water resources. To help illuminate these issues, the National Research Council held a colloquium on July 12, 2007 in Washington, DC. <i>Water Implications of Biofuels Production in the United States</i>, based in part on discussions at the colloquium, concludes that if projected future increases in use of corn for ethanol production do occur, the increase in harm to water quality could be considerable from the increases in fertilizer use, pesticide use, and soil erosion associated with growing crops such as corn. Water supply problems could also develop, both from the water needed to grow biofuels crops and water used at ethanol processing plants, especially in regions where water supplies are already overdrawn. The production of "cellulosic ethanol," derived from fibrous material such as wheat straw, native grasses, and forest trimmings is expected to have less water quality impact but cannot yet be produced on a commerical scale. To move toward a goal of reducing water impacts of biofuels, a policy bridge will likely be needed to encourage growth of new technologies, best agricultural practies, and the development of traditional and cellulosic crops that require less water and fertilizer and are optimized for fuel production.
The new field of toxicogenomics presents a potentially powerful set of tools to better understand the health effects of exposures to toxicants in the environment. At the request of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Research Council assembled a committee to identify the benefits of toxicogenomics, the challenges to achieving them, and potential approaches to overcoming such challenges. The report concludes that realizing the potential of toxicogenomics to improve public health decisions will require a concerted effort to generate data, make use of existing data, and study data in new ways--an effort requiring funding, interagency coordination, and data management strategies.
Minerals are part of virtually every product we use. Common examples include copper used in electrical wiring and titanium used to make airplane frames and paint pigments. The Information Age has ushered in a number of new mineral uses in a number of products including cell phones (e.g., tantalum) and liquid crystal displays (e.g., indium). For some minerals, such as the platinum group metals used to make cataytic converters in cars, there is no substitute. If the supply of any given mineral were to become restricted, consumers and sectors of the U.S. economy could be significantly affected. Risks to minerals supplies can include a sudden increase in demand or the possibility that natural ores can be exhausted or become too difficult to extract. Minerals are more vulnerable to supply restrictions if they come from a limited number of mines, mining companies, or nations. Baseline information on minerals is currently collected at the federal level, but no established methodology has existed to identify potentially critical minerals. This book develops such a methodology and suggests an enhanced federal initiative to collect and analyze the additional data needed to support this type of tool.
In 2000, the nation’s next-generation National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program anticipated purchasing six satellites for $6.5 billion, with a first launch in 2008. By November 2005, however, it became apparent that NPOESS would overrun its cost estimates by at least 25 percent. In June 2006, the planned acquisition of six spacecraft was reduced to four, the launch of the first spacecraft was delayed until 2013, and several sensors were canceled or descoped in capability. To examine the impacts of these changes, particularly those associated with climate research, and ways to mitigate those impacts, NASA and NOAA asked the NRC to add this task to its ongoing "decadal survey," Earth Science and Applications from Space. The sponsors and the NRC agreed to address this task separately and to base its analysis on a major workshop. This book presents summaries of discussions at the workshop, which included sessions on the measurements and sensors originally planned for NPOESS and GOES-R; generation of climate data records; mitigation options, including the role of international partners; and cross-cutting issues.
U.S. Navy personnel who work on submarines are in an enclosed and isolated environment for days or weeks at a time when at sea. To protect workers from potential adverse health effects due to those conditions, the U.S. Navy has established exposure guidance levels for a number of contaminants. In this latest report in a series, the Navy asked the National Research Council (NRC) to review, and develop when necessary, exposure guidance levels for 11 contaminants. The report recommends exposure levels for hydrogen that are lower than current Navy guidelines. For all other contaminants (except for two for which there are insufficient data), recommended levels are similar to or slightly higher than those proposed by the Navy. The report finds that, overall, there is very little exposure data available on the submarine environment and echoes recommendations from earlier NRC reports to expand exposure monitoring in submarines.
Several positive and negative lifelong behaviors are established during adolescence including diet and exercise, sexual conduct, practices related to oral health, smoking, drinking, and the use if legal and illegal substances. The complex issues that adolescents deal with on a daily basis can turn into health problems that persist throughout adulthood. Unfortunately the adolescents who are frequently the most disconnected from routine health care services - those who lack insurance and family support - are often those at greatest risk for multiple and chronic health problems. Therefore, those that are responsible for delivering health care services to adolescents must address the health conditions that require immediate attention while preparing young people to adopt practices that can help improve their future health status and prevent unhealthy behaviors. Challenges in Adolescent Health Care studies adolescent health care in the United States, highlights critical health care needs, and identifies service models and components of care that may strengthen and improve health care services, settings, and systems for adolescents. The book explores the nature of adolescent challenges and how they reflect larger societal issues such as poverty, crime and the prevalence of violence. These issues, in addition to lack of comprehensive health coverage, dysfunctional families and the lack of support systems, make providing adequate health care incredibly challenging. Challenges in Adolescent Health Care defines high-quality health care, identifies the strengths and weaknesses of various service models and explores various training programs. The book recommends that health care providers must be sensitive to socioeconomic factors and incorporate health care in a broad array of settings including schools, neighborhoods and community centers.
The Department of Defense (DOD) is committed to transforming the nation's armed forces to meet the military challenges of the future. One approach to achieving this transformation is by leveraging advances in science and technology. New technologies and innovations are integral to today's military actions, and associated changes have rippled through all aspects of operations, highlighting the need for changes in policies related to military personnel. At the request of the Force Chief of Naval Operations, the NRC reviewed the military manpower and personnel policies and studies currently underway in the DOD and developed an implementation strategy for the Department of the Navy's future military manpower and personnel needs. This book presents an introduction to current personnel policies of and concerns facing the Naval forces; an assessment of demographic, technological, and other forces affecting future personnel needs and availability; a summary and assessment of previous studies; an examination of the role of research tools in implementing personnel policy change; and an analysis of obstacles to and strategies for transforming the Naval forces.
To offer security in the maritime domain, governments around the world need the capabilities to directly confront common threats like piracy, drug-trafficking, and illegal immigration. No single navy or nation can do this alone. Recognizing this new international security landscape, the former Chief of Naval Operations called for a collaborative international approach to maritime security, initially branded the “1,000-ship Navy.” This concept envisions U.S. naval forces partnering with multinational, federal, state, local and private sector entities to ensure freedom of navigation, the flow of commerce, and the protection of ocean resources. This new book from the National Research Council examines the technical and operational implications of the “1,000-ship Navy,” as they apply to four levels of cooperative efforts: U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and merchant shipping only; U.S. naval and maritime assets with others in treaty alliances or analogous arrangements; U.S. naval and maritime assets with ad hoc coalitions; and U.S. naval and maritime assets with others than above who may now be friendly but could potentially be hostile, for special purposes such as deterrence of piracy or other criminal activity.
Since 1939, the U.S. government, using the National Defense Stockpile (NDS), has been stockpiling critical strategic materials for national defense. The economic and national security environments, however, have changed significantly from the time the NDS was created. Current threats are more varied, production and processing of key materials is more globally dispersed, the global competition for raw materials is increasing, the U.S. military is more dependent on civilian industry, and industry depends far more on just-in-time inventory control. To help determine the significance of these changes for the strategic materials stockpile, the Department of Defense asked the NRC to assess the continuing need for and value of the NDS. This report begins with the historical context of the NDS. It then presents a discussion of raw-materials and minerals supply, an examination of changing defense planning and materials needs, an analysis of modern tools used to manage materials supply chains, and an assessment of current operational practices of the NDS.
Although its importance is not always recognized, theory is an integral part of all biological research. Biologists' theoretical and conceptual frameworks inform every step of their research, affecting what experiments they do, what techniques and technologies they develop and use, and how they interpret their data. By examining how theory can help biologists answer questions like "What are the engineering principles of life?" or "How do cells really work?" the report shows how theory synthesizes biological knowledge from the molecular level to the level of whole ecosystems. The book concludes that theory is already an inextricable thread running throughout the practice of biology; but that explicitly giving theory equal status with other components of biological research could help catalyze transformative research that will lead to creative, dynamic, and innovative advances in our understanding of life.
Human behavior forms the nucleus of military effectiveness. Humans operating in the complex military system must possess the knowledge, skills, abilities, aptitudes, and temperament to perform their roles effectively in a reliable and predictable manner, and effective military management requires understanding of how these qualities can be best provided and assessed. Scientific research in this area is critical to understanding leadership, training and other personnel issues, social interactions and organizational structures within the military. The U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI) asked the National Research Council to provide an agenda for basic behavioral and social research focused on applications in both the short and long-term. The committee responded by recommending six areas of research on the basis of their relevance, potential impact, and timeliness for military needs: intercultural competence; teams in complex environments; technology-based training; nonverbal behavior; emotion; and behavioral neurophysiology. The committee suggests doubling the current budget for basic research for the behavioral and social sciences across U.S. military research agencies. The additional funds can support approximately 40 new projects per year across the committee's recommended research areas. Human Behavior in Military Contexts includes committee reports and papers that demonstrate areas of stimulating, ongoing research in the behavioral and social sciences that can enrich the military's ability to recruit, train, and enhance the performance of its personnel, both organizationally and in its many roles in other cultures.
The NRC Resident Research Associateship Program at NIST provides two-year temporary appointments for outstanding scientists and engineers. This book describes program applicants and awardees and offers suggestions for an in-depth assessment of career outcomes. Preliminary investigation indicates that outreach efforts produce more qualified applicants than NIST has slots to fill, the pool of applicants is increasingly diverse, and many Research Associates go on to permanent positions at NIST. The agency should conduct a more thorough evaluation of the program, including an assessment of outreach to potential applicants, individuals who decline an award, the program’s impact on the careers of awardees, and the benefits of the program to NIST and the broader scientific and engineering community.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collects, manages, and disseminates a wide range of climate, weather, ecosystem and other environmental data that are used by scientists, engineers, resource managers, policy makers, and others in the United States and around the world. The increasing volume and diversity of NOAA's data holdings - which include everything from satellite images of clouds to the stomach contents of fish - and a large number of users present NOAA with substantial data management challenges. NOAA asked the National Research Council to help identify the observations, model output, and other environmental information that must be preserved in perpetuity and made readily accessible, as opposed to data with more limited storage lifetime and accessibility requirements. This report offers nine general principles for effective environmental data management, along with a number of more specific guidelines and examples that explain and illustrate how these principles could be applied at NOAA.
The current state of science in violence prevention reveals progress, promise, and a number of remaining challenges. In order to fully examine the issue of global violence prevention, the Institute of Medicine in collaboration with Global Violence Prevention Advocacy, convened a workshop and released the workshop summary entitled, Violence Prevention in Low-and Middle-Income Countries. The workshop brought together participants with a wide array of expertise in fields related to health, criminal justice, public policy, and economic development, to study and articulate specific opportunities for the U.S. government and other leaders with resources to more effectively support programming for prevention of the many types of violence. Participants highlighted the need for the timely development of an integrated, science-based approach and agenda to support research, clinical practice, program development, policy analysis, and advocacy for violence prevention.
Review Of Directed Energy Technology For Countering Rockets, Artillery, And Mortars (ram): Abbreviated Versionby National Research Council of the National Academies
The United States Army is looking for ways to defend against missile and mortar attacks. In this book, the National Research Council assesses a plan to create a 100 kW mobile, solid-state, laser weapon that could defend an area several kilometers in diameter. The NRC provides several recommendations: A 100 kW Laser is of limited value, so the program's goal should be a 400 kW weapon. The Army should proceed with the program in stages, focusing first on a rugged transportable platform for the weapon using existing 25 kW laser technology, then directing resources toward 100kW and 400 kW weapons. The Army should perform a detailed, quantitative study of the effectiveness of a high energy, solid-state laser weapon against future threats. The Army should continue to participate in U.S.-based and international research on high-energy lasers and related equipment. The committee found substantial benefits for the Army's solid-state laser program from other programs outside the Army. The Army should conduct risk-assessments that investigate the effects that a high energy laser may have on other airborne platforms in the vicinity of the target. The Army should study eye safety for both the operators of the laser and for civilians. The results of these studies should be integrated into the development of the weapon.
The National Academies Press (NAP)--publisher for the National Academies--publishes more than 200 books a year offering the most authoritative views, definitive information, and groundbreaking recommendations on a wide range of topics in science, engineering, and health. Our books are unique in that they are authored by the nation's leading experts in every scientific field.
The Beyond Einstein (BE) program is a set of five space missions designed to address important questions about physics and astrophysics. In 2003, NASA prepared a research roadmap proposing these five missions in order to study dark energy, black holes, gravitational radiation, inflation of the early universe, and Einstein’s theory of gravitation. In FY2007, congressional language prompted NASA and DOE to request the NRC to assess these missions and recommend which to develop and launch first using a funding wedge that will start in 2009. This report provides, for each mission, an analysis of its scientific impact, an examination of technical risk and a cost assessment, and a review of related policy and programmatic issues. The report concludes with recommendations to guide the programs development.
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