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January was another very bleak month financially, but luckily it ended on a bit of a political high...
January was another very bleak month financially, but luckily it ended on a bit of a political high. On 20 January, Barak Obama's Inauguration ceremony was followed with anticipation by millions of people worldwide.
Dr Bibiana Campos-Seijo
Researchers in the US have been looking forward to his arrival for a long time. Obama has indicated that he wants to make his mark in two specific areas — climate change and stem cells research — that the Bush administration had neglected or ignored for a number of years. Indeed, compared with his predecessor's anti-intellectual stance when faced with sciencerelated issues, Barak Obama is a breath of fresh air and has been hailed as being "good for science" by academics and scientists from both the US and Europe. George W. Bush, in his two mandates, didn't do much to earn their respect. First, he waited more than 1 year to appoint a scientific advisor while at the same time continuing to make decisions about climate change and other significant scientific issues. Secondly, he has left a poor legacy of alleged weakening of environmental regulations, defending corporate and political interests and influencing decision-making processes at agencies such as EPA. It is thus that academics and scientists expect Obama to initiate a good 'working relationship' by first restoring their budgets or increasing funding and then recovering some of the integrity of the government's judgment in scientific issues.
On the other side of the coin — the coin being the pharmaceutical and chemical industries — manufacturers are concerned about the potential tax rises and increased regulatory burden that, they warn, may render the industry non-competitive in the international market. With experts describing the mood in government as anti-business, manufacturers want to ensure that the President considers the industry and their need for large amounts of natural gas and petroleum.
A lot, therefore, now rests on Obama's shoulders. Reconciliating the wants and needs of academia and industry is no easy task, but he has made a great start by successfully surrounding himself with experts from a variety of disciplines (marine biology, physics, engineering, etc.) to create a team that includes two Nobel prize winners and many well-known scientists. Will this become the "science dream team"?