Developments in science and expertise are shaping our lives day-after-day. GAO helps Congress to know and make crucial selections about these developments, selections that can have an effect on coverage for years to return. The Science, Expertise Evaluation, and Analytics Crew (STAA) performs a crucial position in shaping that help.
In at this time’s WatchBlog put up, we discover our work on science and expertise, and listen to from a few of our scientists main that work.
Explaining advanced issues
Whereas scientists in a lab examine a specific subject or downside, scientists at GAO have a look at a broad vary of science and expertise points, in addition to the insurance policies governing them. For instance, our scientists—lots of whom maintain a PhD of their discipline—examine the literature, interview trade leaders, and overview how science and expertise are being utilized. They then present reviews for Congress concerning the results of those matters, in addition to key coverage questions lawmakers ought to contemplate.
For example, Nacole King, a chemist right here at GAO, lately examined how applied sciences are getting used to identify chemical warfare agents, crucial work on condition that overseas governments are suspected of utilizing chemical weapons regardless of worldwide prohibitions.
“It was a enjoyable problem to try to condense such a fancy subject right into a two-pager Highlight,” Nacole says. “As a topic knowledgeable, I really like that—simply explaining how issues work.”
Charlotte Hinkle, a bodily scientist, echoes this in an outline of her work on quantum technologies, instruments that would revolutionize sensors, computation, and communication.
“As a theoretical chemist, you have a look at the ideas of quantum mechanics,” Charlotte mentioned. “Right here you get to see how these ideas are utilized…It’s thrilling to make these ideas tangible for readers.”
Picture caption: Clockwise ranging from the highest left nook: Charlotte Hinkle, Chi Mai, Andrew Kurtzman, Elise Beisecker, and Nacole King.
Discovering new options
On the similar time, our Innovation Lab is exploring new and superior expertise corresponding to pure language processing, cloud companies, and extra. The lab is made up of knowledge scientists and technologists like Elise Beisecker. Elise, a senior knowledge scientist on the staff, helped construct our Operation Warp Speed dashboard, which pulled within the newest scientific trials knowledge to assist individuals make sense of COVID-19 vaccine improvement.
“It was a problem to develop these prototypes so shortly, however that’s what I like concerning the work,” she mentioned. “I’m not doing the identical kind of coding day-after-day. I really feel like I’m all the time considering and making use of strategies in another way.”
Andrew Kurtzman, one other senior knowledge scientist within the Innovation Lab, takes an analogous tack. In his work, Andrew is utilizing knowledge evaluation instruments to assist his colleagues throughout the company overview federal applications at a bigger scale and a decrease price.
“There’s an entrepreneurial spirit concerning the Innovation Lab,” Andrew mentioned. “We’re all the time asking what isn’t being carried out already and the way we will do issues in another way.”
Making an influence
Our scientists aren’t simply learning developments in science and expertise, they’re additionally informing Congress concerning the influence of these developments and what choices they need to contemplate in gentle of them.
For example, one in every of our reviews checked out U.S. government efforts to develop hypersonic weapons and what steps companies can take to raised coordinate these efforts. On this, Chi Mai, a senior aerospace engineer, was in a position to apply his background in science and engineering to make sure that we each collected the required background info on the subject and offered the applied sciences precisely.
“Most researchers are engaged on a particular downside,” Chi mentioned. “Right here you’re affecting public coverage. You’re serving to Congress perceive how these applied sciences work and what alternatives and challenges they could current.”
This coverage mindedness extends to Eliot Fletcher’s work as a senior organic scientist on the staff, particularly his early work on coronaviruses. In Eliot’s work, he explored not solely what coronaviruses are, however what impact they could have on the broader public, what steps are being taken to evaluate vaccine security, and what the social and financial implications of pandemics could be.
“When you publish a report at GAO, you will get that analysis on a congressional desk and, doubtlessly, have an effect on what payments get handed,” Eliot mentioned. “Your work has an actual influence.”
Our Science, Expertise Evaluation, and Analytics staff is making an influence with their work, exploring new matters day-after-day. Wish to be part of our staff? We’re hiring specialists with a background in biology, chemistry, pc science, and extra. See all our openings here.
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