Science Superpower


Transatlantic ties in science and technology

Lisa Brodey

Lisa Brodey was Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Counselor at the US Embassy in London. She joined the Foreign Service in 1994. Before arriving in London, Lisa earned an MSc in Security Strategy at the National War College. Prior to that, she was director of the Department of State’s Office for Science and Technology Cooperation, the office responsible for engaging partner countries on science policy issues that promote economic growth and support the use of science for decision making.


  • International cooperation in science is vital
  • Science grows economies and improves people's lives throughout the world
  • Science has been the foundation of our special relationship for centuries
  • The US and the UK have agreed to expand science and technology cooperation
  • The US is ready and willing to continue our long history of partnership.

The United States Government places significant importance on scientific endeavours and it invests more than any other country in research and development.  However, technical expertise and scientific knowledge extends far beyond any national borders.  Science is a global endeavour. As such, international cooperation in science is as vital as ever, particularly for the betterment of humanity.  We collaborate with scientists all over the world on everything from high-energy physics to stem cell research.  Science is a way to build bridges with other countries and communities.

International science and technology cooperation is a focus for the Biden administration.  Science and technology constitute a core part of our diplomacy, planning and practice.  Research and science are core to our decision-making.

Opportunities and responsibilities 

There are also opportunities and responsibilities that come with being a science superpower.  Science gives the power to address global challenges, such as pandemics and climate change.  It grows economies and improves people's lives throughout the world. 

Science diplomacy is about recognising and facilitating the opportunities while being mindful of the responsibilities that come with being a science superpower.  For example, as Director of the Office of Science and Technology, we used our Science Envoys Program to bring together some of our ‘science superstars’ from the academic community.  We support them for a year or more as envoys so they can share their scientific experience overseas and help develop programmes in the countries they engage with, whether that be Egypt, Vietnam, or Azerbaijan for example.  This is an important way of energising our engagement with other countries.

Another way we do this is through the Embassy Science Fellows Program, which takes working scientists from US government agencies, such as the Department of Energy or the Environmental Protection Agency, and loans them to US embassies for around six weeks, bringing their expertise with them.  For example, an Embassy Science Fellow from the Department of Energy worked on quantum issues in London just before Covid.  She made many contacts and connections and laid for foundation for collaboration that is still occurring. 

We have also have a program for young researchers in emerging economies called Global Innovation through Science and Technology (or GIST).  In partnership with the private sector, GIST includes mentoring, pitch competitions and the development of innovation ecosystems: it is a way for the United States to share our wealth of experience in this area.  In Tunisia, I met an 18 year-old Tunisian woman who had beaten many more experienced men in a competition we ran.  

We also have dozens of bilateral science and technology agreements, like the one with the UK, which articulate a common position on intellectual property rights and the overarching scenarios that guide our research exchanges with other countries.  We have had many discussions also with the EU about cooperation with their research programmes and the ways that US-funded scientists can further collaborate. 

In some countries where we have science and technology umbrella agreements, the science and research ministries are not the most powerful parts of government. So, having the US or the UK at the table as well raises the priority of their own programmes with their funding ministries.  People-to-people and government-to-government relationships are important because our job is to ensure the integrity of the research and a level playing field. 

The US and the UK

The UK is our premier partner on science and technology.  We share a belief in the power of science and technology to improve health, prosperity and security.  We have a shared commitment to the importance of investigator-driven research and freedom of inquiry.

Science has been the foundation of the special relationship between the two countries for centuries.  It probably began with Benjamin Franklin's correspondence with the Royal Society on electricity.  The UK and US are two ‘research powerhouses’.  Our scientists have won an impressive 358 Nobel Prizes, we host all of the world's top 10 universities and working together has produced many tangible benefits. 

We both value working together across geographical and disciplinary boundaries, with an eye toward unlocking innovative solutions to global challenges.  This better positions us to turn that research into new technologies that can change the world and grow our economies.  For this reason, the United States and the United Kingdom have agreed to expand our science and technology cooperation.  

The new Atlantic Charter came out of the G7 meeting in Cornwall in 2021.  In it, the US and the UK resolved to harness and protect our innovative edge in science and technology in order to support our shared security and deliver jobs at home.  By this means, we will promote the development and deployment of new standards and technologies which support democratic values and we will continue to invest in research into the biggest challenges facing the world.  Building on that resolve, we have further agreed to develop a landmark Science and Technology Partnership. 

Science and research also create new jobs, promote levelling up and protect our security.  This includes the security of knowing that global challenges are being addressed together.  The Atlantic Charter aims to strengthen cooperation in areas such as the resilience and security of critical supply chains, battery technologies and emerging technologies (including Artificial Intelligence), to support economic growth. 

Climate science

One of the strongest examples of science undergirding and forging a direction for policy is climate science.  Simply put, we would not have been able to achieve so much at COP 26 – the progress on national commitments or the methane pledge, for example – if there had not been overwhelming consensus on the science.  Scientists have warned for decades about increased extreme weather events due to global warming.  If it were not for the persistence of scientists or activists, we would not have been able to leverage the now settled science and use it to gain momentum in tackling the crisis.

At COP 26, we saw the implementation of science and technology initiatives to tackle those climate challenges.  Among these, the US launched Net Zero World to marshal its 17 national laboratories and provide critical technical assistance to key partner countries.  In addition, the US and United Arab Emirates led the launch of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, which has 80 partners and billions of dollars to advance climate-smart agriculture and food systems. 

As the UK focuses on its ambitions in science, the US is ready and willing to continue our long history of partnership, not only bilaterally but together as world leaders in the use of science to solve the critical challenges ahead for humans and our planet.