NIU’s Gerald Blazey, vice president for Research and Innovation Partnerships, will participate in an upcoming roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C., on the economic impact of fundamental scientific research.
Sponsored by the Science Coalition and Association of American Universities, the event will be held from 12 to 1:30 p.m. (Central Time) Wednesday, July 18, and will be available for viewing via livestream on the Science Coalition’s Facebook page.
Senior university research officers from across the country will discuss their views on working with industry and the private sector; commercialization of innovations and technologies; how the federal government can further ensure that fundamental research contributes to economic prosperity; and economic outputs of university research programs, including employment figures, patents, spin-off companies and other markers of economic data.
“Federal funding for fundamental scientific research has never been more important,” Blazey said.
“Here at NIU, faculty and student researchers are working to improve and restore the environment, combat cancer, develop new antibiotics, create new materials for more powerful computers and investigate the fundamental building blocks of matter. These are just a few examples of research efforts supported by federal funding agencies. Similarly, scientists at other universities nationwide are tackling some of the most complex challenges facing our world today.”
Blazey also has noted that more than half of U.S. economic growth since World War II can be traced to science‐driven technological innovation. Those innovations—such as the Internet, smartphones, the semiconductor industry and the biomedical revolution—were fueled by federally funded research conducted at universities and national laboratories across the country.
“All research universities, whether well-established or emerging, have a shared responsibility to strengthen the economy locally and nationally,” Blazey said. “At NIU, we also work hard to ensure our diverse student body has access to research opportunities, which ultimately impacts the state and national workforce.”
Blazey, who holds a Ph.D. in experimental high energy physics, has led NIU’s Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships since 2015. He joined the NIU faculty in 1996 and collaborated on research at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, where he served two terms as elected co-spokesperson of the international DZero experiment, among the world’s premier experiments in particle physics.
From 2007 to 2014, Blazey took on intergovernmental personnel assignments in Washington, D.C. He served as a policy advisor for the physical sciences at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the U.S. President, where he was involved with the development of budgets for the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). He also has worked with the DOE Office of Science, serving as program manager of the International Linear Collider Program.
Members of the media at national publications are expected to attend the roundtable discussion. In addition to Blazey, other roundtable participants will include senior research leaders from Vanderbilt, Brown, Rutgers, Texas A&M, Pennsylvania State and Washington State universities as well as the universities of Kansas, Oregon and Colorado (Boulder).
Jeff Mervis of Science Magazine will moderate the discussion. Mervis reports on science policy in the United States and around the world and follows efforts to improve science and math education, as well as the factors that shape the U.S. and global scientific workforce. He has reported from five continents, including Antarctica, and speaks regularly about the politics of U.S. science to both scientific and lay audiences.