The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is an honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. The NAS was signed into being by President Abraham Lincoln on March 3, 1863, at the height of the Civil War. As mandated in its Act of Incorporation, the NAS has, since 1863, served to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art" whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government. Scientific issues would become even more contentious and complex in the years following the war. To keep pace with the growing roles that science and technology would play in public life, the institution that was founded in 1863 eventually expanded to include the National Research Council in 1916, the National Academy of Engineering in 1964, and the Institute of Medicine in 1970. Collectively, the four organizations are known as the National Academies.
The National Academies of the United States are legally established under the following documents: The 1863 Act of Incorporation and Amendments, the Constitution which was last amended on May 1, 2007, the By-Laws, which were last amended on May 1, 2007 and the Federal Advisory Committee Act of January 7, 1997. The Executive Orders No. 2859 of May 11, 1918, No. 10668 of May 10, 1956, and No. 12832 of January 19, 1993, are all related to the National Research Council.
Members and foreign associates of the Academy are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research; election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer. Currently, as many as 72 members and 18 foreign associates may be elected annually. Names are suggested informally but formal nominations can only be submitted by an Academy member and nomination materials and candidate lists are confidential. The nomination and evaluation process occurs throughout the year, culminating in a final ballot at the Academy's annual meeting in April. The names of newly elected members and foreign associates are announced in a press release, available on the National Academies web site. Membership is achieved by election, hence there is no process by which an individual may apply for membership. Presently, there are 2,100 members and 400 foreign associates, of whom nearly 200 have won Nobel Prizes.
Since 1989, the Academy has organized annual symposia on Frontiers of Science that bring together some of the very best young scientists to discuss exciting advances and opportunities in their fields. At each symposium, approximately 25 young scientists report on current research within their disciplines to an academically trained and scientifically diverse audience, highlighting major research challenges, methodologies, and limitations to progress at the frontiers of their respective fields. The format encourages informal collective as well as one-on-one discussions among participants and speakers are urged to focus their talks on current cutting-edge research in their disciplines to colleagues outside their field. NAS membership is encouraged to think broadly in terms of geography, institution, gender, and scientific fields when nominating candidates for membership. Women members and emeritus - 216 members; 3 emeritus. Women foreign associates - 32 foreign. Total number of members and emeritus - 2038 active; 75 emeritus. Total number of foreign associates- 395
The National Academy of Sciences is governed by a 17-member Council, which includes five officers (president, vice president, home secretary, foreign secretary, and treasurer) and 12 Councilors elected from among the Academy membership. The election of officers and councilors is held yearly; results are announced in February. The National Academy of Sciences Council and its committees (Membership Affairs, International Affairs, Budget and Internal Affairs, and Scientific Programs) meet bi-monthly. The National Research Council Governing Board meets quarterly. The Academy holds its annual meeting in April of each year in Washington, DC. Additionally, Council, Governing Board and other meetings are scheduled throughout the year with venues alternating among Washington, DC, Irvine, California and Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is governed by its Council, consisting of 6 officers and 12 councillors elected by NAE members. The immediate past president and immediate past chair serve on the Council for one year after the end of their terms. The president of the National Academy of Sciences serves as a member of the NAE Council ex officio.The Council meets quarterly during which NAE program initiatives are reviewed and approved on the recommendations of NAE member advisory boards, such as the Program Advisory Committee and the Committee on Engineering Education. In this way, the NAE membership guides the selection, evaluation, and execution of programs.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is governed by a Council consisting of the president and 20 members elected by the membership to 3-year terms. The Council meets quarterly, approves the annual Program Plan and fiscal year budget--both income and expenditures--and provides policy guidance. A five-member Executive Committee of the Council acts monthly for the Council to review all proposals for new and revised projects. Three standing committees - Program, Finance, and Membership - provide recommendations to the Council in their areas of responsibility.
The main publications of the National Academies are the following:
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is one of the world's most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials. Since its establishment in 1914, it continues to publish cutting-edge research reports, commentaries, reviews, perspectives, colloquium papers, and actions of the Academy. PNAS is published weekly in print, and daily online in PNAS Early Edition.
National Academies Press (NAP) publishes the reports issued by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council. NAP publishes more than 200 books yearly on a wide range of topics in science, engineering, and health. Hundreds of these books can be downloaded for free by the chapter or the entire book, while others are available for purchase.
Published quarterly, Issues in Science and Technology is a forum for discussion of public policy related to science, engineering, and medicine. Current articles are available by print subscription; articles from back issues may be accessed free of charge online.
Women's Adventures in Science features trailblazing women in a variety of scientific fields from robotics to forensics. The series is designed to inspire young people--especially girls--to cultivate an interest in science. The series is complemented by a playful, interactive web site, iwaswondering.org.
Published since 1877, Biographical Memoirs features the life histories and selected bibliographies of deceased Academy members. The monograph series provides a record of the life and work of our most distinguished leaders in the sciences, as witnessed and interpreted by their colleagues and peers. Monographs printed from 1995 to date are available free of charge online.
Magazines & Journals
The National Academies In Focus. Published three times a year, this magazine features a broad range of Academies activities.
The Bridge. This National Academy of Engineering quarterly report addresses issues in
engineering and technology policy.
TR News. Published bimonthly by the Transportation Research Board, this magazine explores transportation science and policy.
Issues in Science and Technology. The University of Texas at Dallas and the National Academies publish this quarterly journal on current science and related policy issues.
ILAR Journal. The Academies' Institute for Laboratory Animal Research publishes this quarterly, peer-reviewed journal.
The following publications are Online Features:
Science in the Headlines are National Academies reports related to topics in the news.
Sounds of Science is a weekly series of audio podcasts which puts a spotlight on the high-impact work of the National Academies. Program focuses on a wide range of critical issues in science, engineering, and medicine; these short 10-minute episodes are a quick and easy way to tune in to all the key findings and important recommendations made by the Academies.
Engineering Innovation are weekly podcasts from the National Academy of Engineering highlights exciting developments in engineering and provides technical context to stories in the news. The 40-second episodes demonstrate how engineers are making an impact - in energy, health, the environment, sports, and more!
Interviews, where National Academy of Sciences members talk about their lives and work in audio interviews available on the web.
About 85 percent of funding comes from the federal government through contracts and grants from agencies and 15 percent from state governments, private foundations, industrial organizations, and funds provided by the Academies member organizations. All funds, regardless of their source, are accepted by the Academies with very stringent conditions to ensure that the acceptance of any funds does not influence the objectivity, scope, method of study, or membership of a study group.
The Academy presents a number of awards, spanning a wide range of scientific disciplines, to recognize outstanding achievements in science.
A major thrust of the NASSâ international program continues to be working with and through the InterAcademy Panel (IAP), a global consortium of the worlddâs science academies. Working through a global consortium is especially effective, because a one-to-many approach can magnify our efforts while providing major economies of scale in terms of financial and human resources, Much more can be done in partnership with other academies when costs are shared and when each academy acts as a catalyst for developing local S&T capabilities. Academies working together can also anticipate future global problems and offer science-based solutions to national decision makers.
Both the IAP and IAC have been central to our efforts to advance world science capabilities. Our experience is that both organizations have been exceptionally effective in amplifying the voice of the global science community on specific topics of international import.
In accordance with its charter, the Committee on Human Rights (CHR) works to gain the release of scientists, engineers, and health professionals who are unjustly imprisoned. Its caseload can range from 225 to as many as 300 or more. The CHRRâs case-related efforts are pursued primarily through private means. The CHR's occasional statements and reports reflect public efforts undertaken by the CHR after considerable private interventions have proved ineffective and the CHRRâwith the approval of the NAS Council and the presidents of the NAE and IOMMâhas decided that a more public effort should be made. The CHR also serves as secretariat for the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies. The Networkkâwhich now includes 71 academies around the worlddâworks to address grave issues of science and human rights, particularly the unjust imprisonment of colleagues.
Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO)
BISO serves as the national committee for the International Council for Science (ICSU), a non-governmental organization founded in 1931 to address major international, interdisciplinary issues that no single discipline or country could handle alone. BISO exercises membership in ICSU and its member unions, associates, and committees through a network of some 25 U.S. National Committees (USNCs). BISO also oversees the Office of International Scientific and Technical Information (ISTIP) and the International Visitors Office (IVO).
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) formed the Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) in 1980 as a permanent committee to bring the resources of the Academy to bear on critical problems of international security and arms control. CISAC, in the Policy and Global Affairs Division, draws from the nationnâs finest scientific, technical, engineering and medical talent to advise the government, contribute to the work of non-governmental organizations, and inform the public about scientific and technical issues related to international security and arms control.