The Science Coalition (TSC) is excited to welcome Jill Pentimonti, Ph.D. as our new President! TSC sat down with Dr. Pentimonti to ask about her motivation to head TSC, her background in research, and her passion for advocating for federal investment in science. Get to know her better by reading her Q&A below.
Jill Pentimonti, Ph.D.
Executive Director of Research Advancement
University of Notre Dame
What excites you most about serving as TSC’s president during its 30thyear?
I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as TSC’s president during its 30th year. It is also a crucial time for science – as we enter an election year, investments in public health, clean energy, and artificial intelligence will be up for debate. As TSC’s president, I hope to ensure that the media and policymakers recognize the importance of protecting the federal investment in science and research.
What roles do you think universities play in our nation’s research and innovation ecosystem?
With funding from federal research agencies, to include investments through legislation like the CHIPS and Science Act, universities are conducting groundbreaking research that contributes to the next chapter of American innovation. These pioneering research programs range from artificial intelligence to quantum information science, clean energy, and microelectronics and semiconductors. Beyond conducting this future-driven research, universities are key contributors to training the scientists of tomorrow and ensuring our nation has a STEM workforce ready to meet any challenge with ingenuity and integrity.
In your own research, how do you go about deciding what to pursue?
In my own research, I think my most promising work (and the work I’m most excited about!) stems from my interdisciplinary collaborations. One of the best parts of my role at Notre Dame is the chance to learn about the amazing research happening across campus. Building these relationships with fellow researchers outside my own discipline has led to my most innovative, collaborative research pursuits. Importantly, these types of interdisciplinary efforts are being recognized by federal funding agencies for their potential to lead to innovative research solutions. I applaud the work agencies are doing to encourage this type of collaborative work. In fact, my most recent National Science Foundation (NSF) proposal was submitted with colleagues from computer science – our work would help bring the power of AI into classrooms in an effort to improve instructional practices in STEM education using innovative, technological solutions.
How is Notre Dame leading in science research?
Notre Dame has considerable strengths in data and computational science, particularly as it concerns using data science as a force for good. These research efforts include using data-driven methods to address societal challenges such as the opioid epidemic and prevention of childhood lead poisoning. As Notre Dame continues to strengthen our capabilities in this area, we build upon our commitments to our recently announced Strategic Framework and draw upon our established expertise in technology ethics research, applied technology ethics, values-based technology education, and trusted AI.
How does TSC stand out among its peers in its mission to advocate for fundamental research and how can the organization meet the challenges of maintaining robust and sustained funding in a time of ever-increasing global competition?
TSC is unique in its ability and dedication to reaching a wide range of audiences and identifying innovative ways to communicate the value of fundamental science. Now more than ever, it is imperative that TSC continue to tell stories that showcase the practical benefits of fundamental science, as well as develop new, hands-on opportunities for members, elected leaders, and government officials to experience the science firsthand.