Each four-year presidential election cycle frames an era of United States politics, including science in high politics.

The greenhouse effect, the Valdez oil spill, and biodiversity; AIDS, tuberculosis, and other emerging diseases; fetal tissue research, genome mapping, DNA patents, and DNA fingerprinting; chemical weapons and unemployed Soviet bomb scientists; the space station and the supercollider: The past term has been a busy one for science in the White House.

The next term will be busy, too. Outstanding challenges include stopping the proliferation of high-tech weapons, rationalizing medical care systems, building a civilian technology agency, and effecting widespread improvements in secondary school education in math and science. Scientists will be particularly concerned about an informed sensitivity to the consequences of budget restrictions on investigator-initiated ("small") science.

Can the accomplishments and lessons of the past presidential term help set goals for the next?

The incumbent administration has given high priority to improving...

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