May-June 2009 Issue • Volume 37 • Issue 5

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Sociologists Take the "Science of Science Policy" to Capitol Hill

Annual science fest exposes legislators and policymakers to range of NSF-supported research


ASA sponsored a poster presentation by
sociologists from the University of Maryland:
(from left to right) Jonathon Mote, Aleia Clark,
Jerry Hage, and Gretchen Jordan
(Sandia National Laboratories).

A team of University of Maryland-College Park sociologists brought research on the science of science and innovation policy to Capitol Hill on March 24 for the 15th Annual Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) Exhibition and Reception. Sponsored by ASA, the four sociologists were at least the ninth group of National Science Foundation-funded scientists that ASA has brought to this yearly CNSF "science fest" in the nation’s capital.

Sociologists Jerald Hage, director at Maryland’s Center for Innovation, and Jonathon Mote, an assistant research scientist also at the center, displayed their NSF-backed research exploring the science of managing innovation in public research laboratories. For background on NSF’s "Science of Science & Innovation Policy" (SciSIP) initiative, see the March 2007 and January 2009 Footnotes (p. 2 and 3, respectively).

Hage and Mote, joined by University of Maryland graduate student Aleia Clark as well as Gretchen Jordan of Sandia National Laboratories, are currently in the process of data collection to identify best practices for promoting scientific innovation. The research also seeks to ascertain whether best practices vary among disciplines; the study examines chemistry, biology, material sciences, alternative energy, and geo-physical sciences. The team expects the final results of the research to be available in 2012, following the completion of two preliminary reports on three labs each, expected in 2010 and 2011.

NSF-funded sociologist Jerry Hage listens as
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) addresses attendees
at the Coalition for National Science Funding Exhibition.

Approximately 300 attendees toured the exhibits, including several members of Congress and their staff, key congressional committee staff, NSF leadership (e.g., Director Arden Bement), and representatives from other policymaking and research agencies. Congressmen Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) visited the ASA-sponsored poster, and other representatives in attendance included Bill Foster (D-IL), Bob Filner (D-CA), and Bart Gordon (D-TN), Chair of the House Committee on Science and Technology.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) addressed the assembled crowd, highlighting her commitment to science.

"If you want to know the agenda for this Congress, think of four words: science, science, science, science," said Pelosi. Her prepared comments for the event are online at

The CNSF event highlighted a total of 34 research projects supported by the National Science Foundation. Projects covered topics as diverse as climate change, technological literacy, income dynamics, and the earth’s interior. A complete listing of the posters is available at

CNSF, of which ASA is a member, is an alliance of more than 120 organizations united by a concern for the future vitality of the national science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research enterprise as well as the related kindergarten through graduate educational base. For more information on CNSF, visit Search for "CNSF" at for online coverage of sociology posters at past CNSF exhibitions. logo_small


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