Newly inaugurated President Barack Obama declared his priorities for stimulating the economy in a speech on Jan. 8, including goals such as doubling the production of alternative energy technology, which will depend on discoveries from research. As a research university, UR must make it a priority to take part in this new age of science an age that has the potential to provide a solution to looming energy concerns.
UR is host to incredible science and engineering programs and the ‘unlimited imaginations” Obama spoke of in his inaugural address. UR has the capability to make great strides in the realms of solar energy and other practical and potentially lucrative research. However, we cannot make any significant progress without the necessary resources.
Our peer research universities compete with UR for grants in energy innovation. The U.S. Department of Energy has received 260 applications from universities asking for nearly $1 billion in research grants. It has begun funding several of these projects. For example, federally sponsored research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has already led to the discovery of cheaper solar compounds.
UR alumnus Steven Chu ’70 now presides over the D.O.E., and while this is a source of pride for the University, it is in no way a free pass. We want in on the limitless research opportunities, and the federal government needs to hear us loud and clear. If UR truly prides itself in its research abilities, then we must show it. We must show it through relentless lobbying, not only by our University’s leaders, but by grassroots movements as well.
On a community level, University authorities should continue to apply for all and any research funding at a federal level. On an individual level, every student can help by writing to the Obama administration and the Secretary of Energy appealing for finances. We must remember during this time of change that the discoveries of today will create a new tomorrow, and it is up to us to build the future America.