Less than 20% of engineering bachelor degrees currently go to women and recent trends have been declining. Reports from the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council explore the challenges the nation currently faces in developing a strong and diverse workforce. All are free to download.
Messaging for Engineering: From Research to Action
For those in the broad engineering community–those who employ, work with, and/or educate engineers, and engineers themselves–there is no need to explain the importance and value of engineering. They understand that engineers help make the world …
Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are cultural achievements that reflect our humanity, power our economy, and constitute fundamental aspects of our lives as citizens, consumers, parents, and members of the workforce. …
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MMR – measles, mumps, rubella – vaccination is again in the news as an outbreak of measles that began at Disneyland before Christmas has spread to six states. As of last Friday, 70 people have been diagnosed with measles, and hundreds more have been exposed at schools, doctor’s offices, hospitals, shopping malls and other places visited by infected patients. Arizona reported its first case of measles related to Disneyland when a woman in her 50s was diagnosed. The outbreak has spread to Utah, Washington, Colorado, Oregon and across the border to Mexico. The Institute of Medicine has produced a number of reports on the safety and importance of vaccination. We asked Kathleen Stratton, an Institute of Medicine Scholar and Study Director of several notable IOM reports on vaccines, for her thoughts on vaccination and public health.
“Vaccines save lives. That’s a fact. We need vaccines developed against some very serious infectious diseases, like respiratory syncytial virus, and we need everyone to heed advice regarding existing vaccines, like the measles vaccine.”
The reports below and others on the subject of vaccination are free to download from our website.
What You Need to Know About Infectious Disease
About a quarter of deaths worldwide–many of them children–are caused by infectious organisms. The World Health Organization reports that new infectious diseases are continuing to emerge and familiar ones are appearing in new locations around …
Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality
In 1900, for every 1,000 babies born in the United States, 100 would die before their first birthday, often due to infectious diseases. Today, vaccines exist for many viral and bacterial diseases. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, passed …
Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism
This eighth and final report of the Immunization Safety Review Committee examines the hypothesis that vaccines, specifically the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and thimerosal-containing vaccines, are causally associated with autism. The …
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Many issues brought to national attention following the recent fatal smoke event in the Washington, DC underground Metro system have been discussed in the National Research Council report Underground Engineering for Sustainable Development. Smoke and fire represent one of the greatest hazards to health and safety in underground infrastructure. This report includes discussion of how fire and smoke spread easily through tunnel systems and how underground ventilation systems must be able to provide breathable air and remove hazardous gases.
We asked Sammantha Magsino, the Study Director of Underground Engineering, for her thoughts on how the report speaks to the recent rail incident:
Strategic decisions must be made related to alarm and exiting systems, entry systems for emergency personnel, and safety procedures to ensure both occupant and emergency responder safety. Such decisions must optimize human-technical relationships and provide at least minimum levels of safety consistent with long-term societal visions. Underground Engineering stresses that underground infrastructure is part of a system of surface and subsurface engineered and human systems that needs to be designed, built, operated, maintained, and used with due accounting of technical aspects of the infrastructure, as well as in consideration of human behaviors, physiology, performance capacity, and the necessary education and training for safe and effective human use. The failure of any element of the system can result in cascading failures of other system elements, and can put the whole system at risk. Risk in underground infrastructure, however, often does not receive the same levels of regulatory scrutiny as risk in surface infrastructure, and safety codes are often written in response to events rather than the thorough study of risk/
Underground Engineering includes overarching observations, conclusions, and potential actions in practice, education, and research that would encourage integrated and interdisciplinary approaches to underground infrastructure design, management, technology development, and safety.
Underground Engineering for Sustainable Urban Development
For thousands of years, the underground has provided humans refuge, useful resources, physical support for surface structures, and a place for spiritual or artistic expression. More recently, many urban services have been placed underground. Over this time, humans have rarely considered how underground space can contribute to or be engineered to maximize its contribution to the sustainability of society. As human activities begin to change the planet and population struggle to maintain …
Last week California’s Governor Brown announced new energy goals for the state in his inaugural address. By 2030, the state is striving to:
1) Increase from 30% to 50% the amount of electricity derived from renewable resources
2) Reduce petroleum consumption by cars and trucks by 50%
3) Double the efficiency of existing buildings
Is this possible? How will it affect consumers, producers, and the environment? Our titles discuss technology to increase efficiency, ways to reduce gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in cars and trucks, and options for renewable energy sources.
Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels in the United States (2012)
Biofuels made from algae are gaining attention as a domestic source of renewable fuel. However, with current technologies, scaling up production of algal biofuels to meet even 5 percent of U.S. transportation fuel needs could create unsustainable …
Transitions to Alternative Vehicles and Fuels (2013)
For a century, almost all light-duty vehicles (LDVs) have been powered by internal combustion engines operating on petroleum fuels. Energy security concerns about petroleum imports and the effect of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on global …
Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States (2010)
America’s economy and lifestyles have been shaped by the low prices and availability of energy. In the last decade, however, the prices of oil, natural gas, and coal have increased dramatically, leaving consumers and the industrial and service …
The Arctic is one of the last unknown places on this planet. Last week it made news, as Denmark made a claim to the region, which is also of interest to Canada, Russia, the United States, and Norway. According to a 2008 U.S. Geological Survey, the Arctic Circle might hide between 13 and 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas resources under a thick layer of ice. Climate change and the melting of glaciers are expected to make those resources accessible to drilling and mining faster than expected. Melting ice could also open new transport routes and benefit those who control them.
The climate, biology, and society in the Arctic are changing in rapid, complex, and interactive ways. Understanding the Arctic system has never been more critical; thus, Arctic research has never been more important.
The video below highlights findings of The Arctic in the Anthropocene, a report that identifies emerging research questions to help us understand how environmental and societal transitions will affect the Arctic and the rest of the world.
You can also watch videos for two of our other reports, Responding to Oil Spills in the U.S. Arctic Marine Environment and Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change.
National Research Council reports explore impacts of abrupt climate change in this region, opportunities for research, and how to prepare for possible environmental damage from increased oil and gas operations. All are free to download.
Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises (2013)
Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the past million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in the Earth’s atmosphere for a very, very long time. Lacking action by the world’s nations, it is clear that …
The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions (2014)
Once ice-bound, difficult to access, and largely ignored by the rest of the world, the Arctic is now front and center in the midst of many important questions facing the world today. Our daily weather, what we eat, and coastal flooding are all …
Responding to Oil Spills in the U.S. Arctic Marine Environment (2014)
U.S. Arctic waters north of the Bering Strait and west of the Canadian border encompass a vast area that is usually ice covered for much of the year, but is increasingly experiencing longer periods and larger areas of open water due to climate …
Last month’s hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment has highlighted the vulnerability of companies to cyberattack. The hackers stole confidential documents, deleted the originals, and left threatening messages. With the computers unusable even days after the attack, employees resorted to using white boards to do their work. Meanwhile, the hackers released the confidential documents to journalists, and five Sony movies to the public at large.
The Sony hack clearly demonstrates a need for improved cybersecurity. Governments are not the only ones vulnerable, and state secrets are not the only targets. To learn more about how we can prevent future cyberattacks with improved security, check out our Cybersecurity Collection:
At the Nexus of Cybersecurity and Public Policy: Some Basic Concepts and Issues
We depend on information and information technology (IT) to make many of our day-to-day tasks easier and more convenient. Computers play key roles in transportation, health care, banking, and energy. Businesses use IT for payroll and accounting, inventory and sales, and research and development. Modern military forces use weapons that are increasingly coordinated through computer-based networks. Cybersecurity is vital to protecting all of …
Toward a Safer and More Secure Cyberspace
Given the growing importance of cyberspace to nearly all aspects of national life, a secure cyberspace is vitally important to the nation, but cyberspace is far from secure today. The United States faces the real risk that adversaries will exploit vulnerabilities in the nation s critical information systems, thereby causing considerable suffering and damage. Online e-commerce business, government agency files, and identity records are all …
Toward Better Usability, Security, and Privacy of Information Technology: Report of a Workshop
Despite many advances, security and privacy often remain too complex for individuals or enterprises to manage effectively or to use conveniently. Security is hard for users, administrators, and developers to understand, making it all too easy to use, configure, or operate systems in ways that are inadvertently insecure. Moreover, security and privacy technologies originally were developed in a context in which system administrators had …
The Ferguson case and nationwide public reaction have highlighted very different views of policing among the public. The National Research Council’s 2004 report Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing: The Evidence addressed these concerns.
From the report:
“Policing is primarily shaped by two public expectations. First, the police are called on to deal with crime and disorder, preventing them when possible, and to bring to account those who disobey the law. Second, the public expects their police to be impartial, producing justice through the fair, effective, and restrained use of their authority. The standards by which the public judges police success in meeting these expectations have become more exacting and challenging, and police agencies today must find ways to respond in an effective, affordable, and legitimate way.”
A scientific knowledge base exists for helping communities to decide what strategies to use to reduce crime and disorder while increasing police legitimacy. Recommendations of Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing provide guidance for creating more effective, fair, efficient, and accountable policing in the 21st century. This report and other reports in our Law and Justice Collection evaluate the evidence base and recommend best practices for policing, evidence collection and processing, and eyewitness identification. All are free to download.
Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing: The Evidence (2004)
Because police are the most visible face of government power for most citizens, they are expected to deal effectively with crime and disorder and to be impartial. Producing justice through the fair, and restrained use of their authority. The …
Identifying the Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification (2014)
Eyewitnesses play an important role in criminal cases when they can identify culprits. Estimates suggest that tens of thousands of eyewitnesses make identifications in criminal investigations each year. Research on factors that affect the …
Forensic Analysis Weighing Bullet Lead Evidence (2004)
Since the 1960s, testimony by representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in thousands of criminal cases has relied on evidence from Compositional Analysis of Bullet Lead (CABL), a forensic technique that compares the elemental …
The Evaluation of Forensic DNA Evidence (1996)
In 1992 the National Research Council issued DNA Technology in Forensic Science, a book that documented the state of the art in this emerging field. Recently, this volume was brought to worldwide attention in the murder trial of celebrity O. …
DNA Technology in Forensic Science (1992)
Matching DNA samples from crime scenes and suspects is rapidly becoming a key source of evidence for use in our justice system. DNA Technology in Forensic Science offers recommendations for resolving crucial questions that are emerging as DNA …
Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence: Third Edition (2011)
The Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Third Edition, assists judges in managing cases involving complex scientific and technical evidence by describing the basic tenets of key scientific fields from which legal evidence is typically …
During a bad storm in the Detroit area in August, an estimated 4.5 billion gallons of sewage entered the water supply when the combined sewer systems overflowed. Such overflows can pose a risk to human health and aquatic life as they send chemicals and untreated sewage straight into the nearest body of water.
This diagram from the EPA shows how combined sewer systems can overflow during heavy rain
Traditionally, local governments and regulatory agencies have favored “gray infrastructure,” which includes sewer separation, storage tunnels, and additional treatment units. However, the cost of building an infrastructure with sufficient capacity to avoid CSO’s during unusually large storm events can exceed the point of commensurate benefits, such as the amount of risk reduction expected over a certain period.
Permeable pavement, which allows water to reach the ground beneath
As an alternative approach, the EPA is starting to encourage “green infrastructure” — methods such as constructed wetlands, rainwater harvesting, and pervious or porous pavements — to provide a wider range of benefits to the community and the environment. Green infrastructure can also help air pollution, energy use, habitat connectivity, and even the economy.
The recent NRC report Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making examines scientific tools and approaches for incorporating sustainability concepts into assessments used to support EPA decision making. Committee Chair Mike Kavanaugh explains, “As discussed in the committee’s report, consideration of the benefits of green infrastructure as part of CSO control planning for the long-term is one of many ways in which EPA and other government agencies can incorporate sustainability concepts into decision-making.”
Further explore sustainability with these reports from the National Research Council. All are free to download.
Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making: Tools and Approaches for the US Environmental Protection Agency
In its current strategic plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes a cross-agency strategy to advance sustainable environmental outcomes and optimize economic and social outcomes through Agency decisions and actions. Sustainability has evolved from an aspiration to a growing body of practices. The evolution includes a transition from the development of broad goals toward the implementation of specific policies and programs for achieving them and the use of indicators and …
Sustainability and the U.S. EPA
Sustainability is based on a simple and long-recognized factual premise: Everything that humans require for their survival and well-being depends, directly or indirectly, on the natural environment. The environment provides the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.
Recognizing the importance of sustainability to its work, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to create programs and applications in a variety of areas to better incorporate …
Science for Environmental Protection: The Road Ahead
In anticipation of future environmental science and engineering challenges and technologic advances, EPA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to assess the overall capabilities of the agency to develop, obtain, and use the best available scientific and technologic information and tools to meet persistent, emerging, and future mission challenges and opportunities. Although the committee cannot predict with certainty what new environmental problems EPA will face in the next 10 years or …
Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connection and Governance Linkages
A “sustainable society,” according to one definition, “is one that can persist over generations; one that is far-seeing enough, flexible enough, and wise enough not to undermine either its physical or its social system of support.” As the government sector works hard to ensure sufficient fresh water, food, energy, housing, health, and education for the nation without limiting resources for the future generations, it’s clear that there is no sufficient organization to deal with sustainability …
Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment
Risk assessment has become a dominant public policy tool for making choices, based on limited resources, to protect public health and the environment. It has been instrumental to the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as other federal agencies in evaluating public health concerns, informing regulatory and technological decisions, prioritizing research needs and funding, and in developing approaches for cost-benefit analysis.
However, risk assessment is …
Shale gas is providing an increasing share of U.S. natural gas production. In 2010, 20% of the nation’s natural gas supply came from shale gas. Experts predict that by 2035, as much as 46% of the United States’ supply could come from shale gas. While many people believe that natural gas is a cleaner energy alternative that can ease our dependence on petroleum, others have concerns about the environmental effects of “fracking.” What’s the scientific evidence base for shale energy decision making? How can policy makers account for possible adverse effects? Reports from the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine explore these and related topics. All are free to download.
Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies
In the past several years, some energy technologies that inject or extract fluid from the Earth, such as oil and gas development and geothermal energy development, have been found or suspected to cause seismic events, drawing heightened public …