The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine assist the nation as expert advisors on matters of technical and scientific importance. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Mark Warner, VASEM was created as a state-level academy to put this unique talent and experience to work for Virginia as a nonpartisan and independent organization. The approximately 140 members are found in research universities, industry, government, and the military. VASEM also has access to a broad network of experts across the region. Together, VASEM provides a collective rigor and objectivity to the state that no single institution can achieve on its own.
Since our charter in 2013, VASEM has worked as a resource for objective expertise in many roles. These include partnering with the Joint Commission on Technology and Science, elected members of the Virginia General Assembly, and appointed Secretaries in the Governor’s administration. We have responded to these requests with data-driven analyses and recommendations for legislation to advance the well-being of Virginia. No other state has a comparable body of experts available to its executive officers and policy makers.
Looking ahead, VASEM is eager to grow engagement with the state of Virginia. VASEM board members are fostering new partnerships with staff and administrators with the goal of helping state agencies. The VASEM network is also helping to make connections between agencies and other groups to get people working together. In these ways, and more, we serve.
In keeping with our mission, VASEM is also promoting Virginia’s high caliber researchers. The annual Summit is a terrific venue for helping outstanding younger scientists and engineers to highlight discoveries and innovations while also sparking synergies between universities, industries, policymakers, and National Academy members.
At the January meeting, the VASEM Board agreed to invite proposals for future Summit topics. Thus, I am pleased to introduce the 2018 Summit, Securing Prosperity in the Coastal Zone. The workshop-based format will tackle urgent issues facing the 6 of 10 Virginia citizens who live and work in the coastal region. I envision the outcomes also will provide the basis for a technical study that identifies actionable recommendations for our state government.
Finally, I have had the pleasure of speaking with many of you by phone. I thank each of you for these conversations and welcome your continued feedback. I conveyed your ideas at the January Board meeting, and we are already working to implement many of them. Your enthusiasm for our state academy is shared by Senator Mark Warner and Virginia Speaker Kirk Cox. I look forward to talking with more of you in the coming months!