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Biden administration presents significant opportunities for science

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm
Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

Impact. The importance and impact of science continues to dominate news headlines each day. COVID-19 vaccine to save humanity. Climate change to save our planet.

Today we start a new chapter as a nation. When President Biden took his oath of office, he pledged to “refresh and reinvigorate our national science and technology strategy to set us on a strong course for the next 75 years so that our children and grandchildren may inhabit a healthier, safer, more just, peaceful and prosperous world”.

Biden has appointed a geneticist, Dr. Eric Lander, President and Founding Director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a top US biomedical research organization, to lead this charge. In his letter to Dr. Lander, the President asked him to consider these five questions:

  1. What can we learn from the pandemic about what is possible — or what ought to be possible — to address the widest range of needs related to our public health?
  2. How can breakthroughs in science and technology create powerful new solutions to address climate change — propelling market-driven change, jump-starting economic growth, improving health, and growing jobs, especially in communities that have been left behind?
  3. How can United States ensure that it is the world leader in the technologies and industries of the future that will be critical to our economic prosperity and national security, especially in competition with China?
  4. How can we guarantee that the fruits of science and technology are fully shared across America and among all Americans? 
  5.  How can we ensure the long-term health of science and technology in our nation?

These questions feed right into George Mason University president Gregory Washington’s focus on healthy people, healthy planet, healthy economy, and healthy society. I encourage you to consider how your work currently does and might possibly fit into these areas. Perhaps you could marshal your influence to help shape the direction of your scientific field. Take inspiration from Mason’s Thomas Lovejoy who responded with a call to act in this recently published paper in bioscience.

With the start of this new administration, new opportunities will be ushered in for us to think boldly. The President has established a new scientific team [see the team summary in Nature] to focus on COVID-19, environmental justice, climate change, and technologies of the future, which present new and re-invigorated learning research and funding opportunities. As educators, we are charged to inform and inspire the next generation of scientist. As researchers, we must continue to take on the yet unanswered questions with a new renewed sense of purpose. As a community, we are charged with igniting scientific curiosity and support in others.

Over the coming weeks, months, and year, we will identify and communicate ways to plug into this effort. Share your ideas and stay informed. Here are some ways to track updates from our college and Mason: 

Read the college’s and Provost’s weekly enewsletters (out on Wednesdays in 2021). We compile stories and updates into a weekly email newsletter to highlight our people as well as academic, research, and community outreach projects and programs. Share your stories and events with us. We will up line to the provost’s and central communication’s offices as well. 

Attend the science faculty meetings (one tomorrow at 3 p.m.) to engage in topic discussions and share your input. 

Participate in your department meetings to receive department specific updates on policy and initiatives that may affect you. 

Check the website calendar and news stories. To improve information sharing, our college website, science.gmu.edu features a calendar of upcoming events and news and each department has a specific calendar Ian’s news listing. Find out what is happening and make sure your events and milestones are included. 

Follow us on social media where we share updates and success stories from the college, around Mason, and from across our various scientific domains and partners. [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube]. Not on social media yet? Perhaps 2021 is the year to try it out. Throughout the coming year, we will offer training sessions to help you sign up for Twitter or Instagram to see what’s happening. 

Review this weekly blog for information about the college’s direction and progress. I pledge to keep you informed and work with you to facilitate ways to bring your bold ideas to fruition. 

It will not be easy, yet it will be ever so important to sustain the momentum you’ve built from the previous year. 

Let’s make 2021 our most impactful year yet. 

FMW

Visit the Dean's Blog for more insights from Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm.