The Discovery - Invention Cycle:
Bridging the Basic — Applied dichotomy and the Need for Rethinking of National Science and Technology Policy

Friday, May 2, 2014, Noon
Building 66 Auditorium
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

YouTube Video

US national science policy since World War II has been guided in large part by Vannevar Bush's well known report: "Science, the endless frontier" which surmised that basic scientific research preceded technological advances and perpetuated a linear model of innovation.

In this talk I will trace the origins of the hard case of several Nobel Prizes in Physics and show that the causal direction of scientific discovery and radical invention are often reversed. They often arose in a culture of so called "applications oriented research" in industrial laboratories and will use those examples to enumerate the key ingredients of highly successful R&D institutions. My views have been shaped by my own personal experiences in industrial research, U.S National Laboratories and research intensive universities. I will discuss the need for institutions which transcend the "basic-applied dichotomy" and which bring research across domains into deeper congress. The need for new integrative institutions to address global challenges such as climate change and alternative energy sources will be discussed.

Venkatesh Narayanamurti

Venkatesh Narayanamurti

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University
Benjamin Peirce Professor of Technology and Public Policy
Professor of Physics
Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School
Director of Science, Technology and Public Policy Program

Venkatesh Narayanamurti is the Benjamin Peirce Professor of Technology and Public Policy and a Professor of Physics at Harvard. He is also the Director of the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). He currently also serves as the Foreign Secretary of the U.S National Academy of Engineering. He was formerly the John L. Armstrong Professor and Founding Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Dean of Physical Sciences at Harvard. Previously he served as the Richard A. Auhll Professor and Dean of Engineering at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Prior to that he was Vice President of Research at Sandia National Laboratories and Director of Solid State Electronics Research at Bell Labs. He obtained his PhD in Physics from Cornell University and has an Honorary Doctorate from Tohoku University. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the IEEE, and the Indian Academy of Sciences. He has served on numerous advisory boards of the federal government, research universities and industry. He is the author of more than 230 scientific papers in different areas of condensed matter and applied physics. He lectures widely on solid state, computer, and communication technologies, and on the management of science, technology and public policy.