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U.S. Risks Losing Highly Skilled Immigrants

RICHARDSON, Texas, March 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United States, long the beneficiary of talented immigrants, must act quickly to keep these valuable workers from leaving to pursue expanding opportunities in their home countries, according to an article in the Spring 2009 Issues in Science and Technology.

In A Reverse Brain Drain, Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University and Harvard Law School, writes that immigrant scientists and engineers, particularly from China and India, have played an increasingly critical role in recent years in creating innovative, new U.S. companies -- and many new jobs.

The danger, Wadhwa says, is that the United States is taking this immigrant contribution for granted at a time when changes in the global economy are providing career alternatives for the most talented people.

In a related article, Ron Hira of the Rochester Institute of Technology explores the increasingly worrisome issue of the offshoring of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs, which is reducing the prospects for U.S.-based STEM workers and dimming the appeal of STEM studies for young Americans.

In U.S. Workers in a Global Market, Hira argues that policymakers will need to learn more about these developments so that they can make the critical choices about how to nurture a sector that is a key to the nation's future economic health.

Also in the Spring 2009 Issues: Biomedical Enhancements: Entering a New Era. Maxwell Mehlman of Case Western Reserve University writes that products and services to boost performance, appearance, or capability are here to stay and that better, more sophisticated ones are on the way. Banning them would be misguided, but regulation will be needed.

In the article In Defense of Biofuels, Done Right, Keith Kline and colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory write that despite recent claims to the contrary, plant-based fuels developed in economically and environmentally sensible ways can contribute significantly to the nation's -- indeed, the world's -- energy security while providing a host of benefits for many people worldwide.

Also in the Spring 2009 Issues:

In the Zone: Comprehensive Ocean Protection. Carrie Kappel of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and colleagues write that comprehensive ecosystem-based zoning could address many of the critical problems with U.S. ocean policy by providing a mechanism for coordinated management of ocean uses that takes into account the cumulative effects of multiple human activities.

Closing the Environmental Data Gap. Robin O'Malley, Anne Marsh, and Christine Negra of the Heinz Center in Washington, DC, write that information limitations are severely constraining our ability to identify and understand emerging environmental problems, devise interventions to address them, and evaluate whether our responses work.

Finally, Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University, writes about the key challenge facing the Obama administration science team, and Robert Hahn of the American Enterprise Institute and Peter Passell of the Milken Institute argue that the task of limiting climate change will be more difficult in both political and economic terms than is generally understood.

ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY is the award-winning journal of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and the University of Texas at Dallas.

    Sonja Gold

    Kevin Finneran

SOURCE Issues in Science and Technology
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