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U.S. Senator Dick Durbin Honored As Champion of Science

Science Coalition applauds Durbin’s longstanding commitment to scientific research

  • Illinois senator honored for his advocacy of federal scientific research funding
  • Science Coalition represents 50 leading public, private research universities
  • Northwestern President Morton Schapiro cites Durbin’s “unwavering support”
  • Durbin also announces legislation to increase research funding by 5 percent

CHICAGO --- Flanked by fellow Illinois members of The Science Coalition, Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro on Monday presented U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin with the Champion of Science Award, honoring Durbin’s strong support and advocacy for federal scientific research funding.

“Senator, you inspire me every day,” Schapiro said, introducing Durbin to a gathering of entrepreneurs, researchers, students and university representatives at 1871, an innovative Chicago tech hub for digital startups founded by Northwestern alumnus Howard Tullman.

At a ceremony and news conference organized by The Science Coalition, Schapiro noted that Durbin has a long track record of showing “unwavering support for federal programs that propel research, innovation and economic growth.”

After receiving the award, Durbin announced plans for legislation that would increase federal funding nationally for basic scientific research by 5 percent, or $100 billion, over the next 10 years.

Research funding needs to be “less political and more predictable,” said Durbin, adding that the increase would keep the U.S. competitive in research and development for decades.

The event was hosted by The Science Coalition, a Washington-based, non-profit organization of the nation’s 50 leading public and private research universities that work to promote federal funding for basic scientific research.

In addition to Northwestern, Illinois members of The Science Coalition include: The University of Chicago, Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In Illinois, Durbin has supported major, transformative research projects such as the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, led by Argonne National Laboratory and UI Labs, a Chicago-based research and commercialization collaborative, Schapiro said.

“Obviously it’s an increasingly tough budgetary time,” Schapiro observed. “But nonetheless, Senator Durbin has led the charge to make federal research and development programs a priority in Congress by introducing legislation to restore money lost by sequestration and to provide stable and predictable funding increases to federal research agencies.”

Schapiro was joined at the event Monday by Jay Walsh, Northwestern’s vice president for research; Bruce Layton, special assistant to the president for government relations, and several prominent University researchers and administrators.

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