A New Way to Promote Science?

Members of Congress have suggested that the President should be able to pick a US Science Laureate.

May 13, 2013
Kate Yandell

WIKIMEDIA, SCRUMSHUSLawmakers have introduced a bill to Congress recommending that the President be empowered to select a Science Laureate for the United States, ScienceInsider reported. The appointed scientist would travel the nation “to inspire future scientists,” according to a press release from Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii. She introduced the bill with fellow Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Representatives Lamar Smith (TX-R) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).

“Like the Poet Laureate, the Science Laureate would be an unpaid, honorary post,” the press release read. “The scientist would also be encouraged to continue their important scientific work.”

The National Academy of Science would recommend candidates for the President’s consideration, and the posts would be for 1 to 2 years. The bill is meant to encourage science students, particularly girls and minorities, the release said, and to keep the United States competitive in science, engineering, and technology.

Blogger and California Institute of Technology graduate student Jeffrey Marlow called promoting science a “noble cause” but raised concerns that completing the unpaid positions and continuing to do important science would be difficult. “Cutting edge research is a more-than-full-time job, particularly for anyone qualified enough to be considered for the Laureate position,” he wrote on his Wired blog.