Hanscom Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, Meeting

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

MIT Lincoln Laboratory Auditorium

Refreshments: 3:30 PM, Talk 4 - 5 PM Joint Meeting with the IEEE Life Members


Science, Technology, and Public Policy:

How Political Processes (Electoral, Bureaucratic, Budgetary, International, etc.) Mesh—or Fail to Mesh—With the Work of Scientists and Engineers

W. D. Kay

Department of Political Science, Northeastern University

More than ever, the work of U.S. science and engineering laboratories—including those in the private sector—is affected by the actions of policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels. From direct funding to regulatory rules to the laws governing patents and intellectual property (to name only a few), policy issues—which are usually settled in the decidedly non-scientific environment of our political institutions—are an increasingly important factor in determining the direction, content, pace, and even (some are now beginning to argue) the quality of American R&D.

W. D. KAY is an associate professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston. He received a BA in political science and economics from Rice University in Houston and an MA and PhD in political science from Indiana University. His primary research interest is in the field of science and technology policy, wherein he explores how all of the various political processes—bureaucratic, budgetary, electoral, legislative, legal, international, etc.—mesh (or fail to mesh) with the work of scientists and engineers. He is the author of Can Democracies Fly in Space? The Challenge of Revitalizing the U.S. Space Program (Praeger, 1995), and Defining NASA: The Historical Debate Over the Agency’s Mission (SUNY Press, 2005; written under a contract from NASA). He is currently working, through the Nanotechnology and Society Research Group at Northeastern University, on the politics of U. S. patent policy, and is in the final stages of his newest book, The Politics of Star Trek (really!)

Dr. Kay’s articles, reviews, and essays have appeared in Issues in Science and Technology; Policy Studies Journal; Space Times; Journal of Popular Culture; Science, Technology, and Human Values; Journal of Policy History; Forum in Applied Research and Public Policy; Technology and Culture; Presidential Studies Quarterly; Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics; Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society; Journal of Politics; Business and Economic History; CQ Researcher; Journal of Cultural Economics; Bulletin of the Boston Theological Institute; and the American Journal of Political Science. He has also contributed chapters to a number of edited volumes.

He has presented professional papers at conferences in North America, Europe, and Asia, including meetings of the American, Midwest, Southern, Western, Northeastern, and New England Political Science Associations, the International Studies Association, the American Astronautical Society, the Society for the Social Study of Science, the Society for the History of Technology, the Social Science History Association, the International Astronautical Federation, the Business History Association, and the Society for the History of the Federal Government. He has given lectures at the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, NASA’s Goddard Space Center, and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has presented expert testimony before the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee (1996) and the full Science Committee (1997) of the U. S. House of Representatives, and was the only non-physicist, non-engineer invited on a 20-member panel examining U. S. fusion energy policy assembled by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment in 1994.

From 1995 to 2000, Dr. Kay served as Chair of the Organized Section on Science, Technology, and Environmental Politics of the American Political Science Association. In 1993, he was a Scholar in Residence at the History Office of NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, and was a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík in 1992.

He is married to the astonishingly witty, extraordinarily talented, and breathtakingly beautiful Jennifer Davis-Kay, an editor (who warns him about overusing modifiers) at the Education Development Center in Newton, Massachusetts, and is the father of Melanie Davis-Kay (born 1997), the brightest and most spirited young lady the world has ever seen, and Will Davis-Kay (born 2000), a boy whose dazzling good looks (he fortunately takes after his mother) and radiant charm captivate everyone he meets.

Dr. Kay can be reached at w.kay@neu.edu; or at 617/373-4401.

The meeting will be held at the Lincoln Lab Auditorium at 4:00 PM. Refreshments will be served at 3:30 PM.  Registration is in the main lobby.  Foreign national visitors to Lincoln Lab require visit requests.  You may also pre-register by e-mail to Roslyn Wesley, rwesley@ll.mit.edu; please indicate your citizenship. You will not receive a confirmation of your pre-registration, however, your badge will be ready for you when you register.   Please use the Wood Street Gate.  For directions go to http://www.ll.mit.edu For other information, contact Ed Altshuler, Chairman at (781)377-4662 or edward.altshuler@hanscom.af.mil