President Obama used a speech Monday at the 150th anniversary meeting of the National Academy of Sciences to pledge that he would continue to push for research funding. "[A]s long as I’m president, we’re going to continue to be committed to investing in the promising ideas that are generated from you and your institutions, because they lead to innovative products, they help boost our economy, but also because that’s who we are. I’m committed to it because that’s what makes us special and ultimately what makes life worth living," he said.
Further, at a time that Republicans in Congress are questioning the validity of peer review decisions, Obama expressed strong support for peer review. "[W]e’ve got to protect our rigorous peer review system and ensure that we only fund proposals that promise the biggest bang for taxpayer dollars. And I will keep working to make sure that our scientific research does not fall victim to political maneuvers or agendas that in some ways would impact on the integrity of the scientific process. That’s what’s going to maintain our standards of scientific excellence for years to come," the president said.
While a number of presidents have addressed the annual gathering of the academy, President Obama is the first to speak more than once at these meetings. He previously addressed the scientists in 2009.
Jim Geddes, a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, is calling on liberal arts departments at the flagship campus at Boulder to hire more professors who are conservatives, The Daily Camera reported. Boulder has long been seen as a liberal campus, and the university recently filled a new visiting position in conservative thought. But Geddes said that more action is needed. "If I were sending one of my children off to college, I'd tell them I want you to go to a university where you are going to hear smart intellectuals on both sides of issues so you can learn for yourself and form your own opinions," Geddes said. "I wouldn't be in favor of sending my child to a purely conservative university. They've already had that course their whole life living with me." He said that departments that lack conservatives should seek them out and hire them.
A California judge ruled Friday that Patrick Harran, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, must stand trial on charges in a lab fire the caused the death of his assistant in 2008, The Los Angeles Times reported. He had sought to have the judge dismiss felony charges of violating state health and safety rules. Harran, backed by the university, has maintained that the death was the result of a tragic accident, not any violations of law.
The University of Central Florida has suspended Hyung-il Jung, an instructor, over a comment about "a killing spree," but students say that he posed no danger and was misunderstood, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Jung told a group of students, he said, something along these lines: "This question is very difficult. It looks like you guys are being slowly suffocated by these questions. Am I on a killing spree or what?" Some students have sent a joint letter to the university saying that there is no need for the investigation Central Florida says it is conducting, and that the comment was clearly a joke.