NSF Director Panchanathan joins heads of funding agencies from around the world at The Hague for the Global Research Council's annual meeting
U.S. National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan traveled to The Hague, Netherlands, for the Global Research Council's (GRC) 11th Annual Meeting, from Monday, May 29 to Friday, June 2. He met with delegates and heads of publicly funded research institutions from around the world to discuss priorities and best practices on behalf of the global research community. Over the course of the eventful week, Panchanathan led a breakout group discussion, participated in a panel discussion and endorsed two high-level statements of consensus. He also attended a regional meeting, governing board meetings and numerous side meetings with international leaders.
The GRC's meeting was an invitation-only, in-person event hosted by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and The São Paulo Research Foundation. Over 170 participants were in attendance, including representatives from 81 research funding agencies across 63 countries. The major themes under discussion for this year's meeting were how to reward and recognize scientists and research on climate change. Also under discussion were the topics of equality, diversity and inclusion; the responsible internationalization and reciprocity of research; and the international collaboration and future activities of the GRC.
Established in 2012 following an NSF-launched and led activity, the GRC is a virtual organization comprised of the heads of research institutions from around the world. The organization's goals are to build international relationships in the interests of science and engineering communities worldwide and to promote the sharing of data and best practices through cooperation and collaboration. A governing board, on which Panchanathan currently serves, oversees the GRC's activities, including its annual meetings — intended to advance the GRC's goals and form a consensus on selected themes. Last year's GRC Annual Meeting in Panama City, Panama, produced the 2022 consensus Statements on Research Ethics and Workforce Development.
On Tuesday, May 30, Panchanathan attended the Americas regional meeting in the morning, followed by side meetings in the afternoon. Later, he attended a governing board meeting, followed by a welcoming reception in the evening.
On Wednesday, May 31, the director met with the Central European Science Partnership. He then joined fellow meeting participants at the iconic Peace Palace for the opening ceremony with keynote by Netherlands Minister of Education, Culture and Science Robbert Dijkgraaf.
Later that morning began a series of discussions on the theme of rewards and recognition of researchers. Panchanathan led one of the breakout group discussions, posing questions on the role of funding agencies in scholarly assessments which prompted lively debates. After the breakout groups, Panchanathan joined a panel discussion to reflect on the day's proceedings. At the end of the panel, representatives from 63 countries, including the director, unanimously endorsed a Statement of Principles on Recognizing and Rewarding Researchers.
After a celebratory group photo and a lunch break, Panchanathan met with leaders from several nations while a series of discussions on the theme of climate change were underway. At the end of the discussions, he and fellow representatives endorsed a second Statement of Principles and Practices on Climate Change Research Funding. That evening, Panchanathan and meeting attendees reconvened for a tour of and dinner at the Mauritshuis Museum.
On Thursday morning, the director attended a final meeting with the GRC Governing Board, concluding his visit to Netherlands.
For Panchanathan and fellow GRC members, the week was a busy, but very productive one. The meeting facilitated a range of important discussions that led to major consensuses — two endorsed statements of principles — that provide much-anticipated guidance to science and engineering communities around the world. Each document is a key outcome that signifies the continued and unified efforts of the GRC and its members to enhance the research landscape and tackle global challenges through international partnership.