Over the past eight years, the rift between the scientific community and the federal agencies that govern it has deepened. What opportunities will President Barack Obama's administration have to bridge the divide?
The Issue: 281 threatened species have not been given protection.
What Next? Let science, not politics, dictate policy. The new administration faces lawsuits asking it to review cases in which political interference may have played a role in withholding protection and critical habitat.
The Issue: A grandiose 2015 moon mission has been given no money.
What Next? Fund the moon initiative or kill it outright. The Orion crew vehicle is behind schedule and over budget, which will probably push the space shuttle to continue flying even further past its retirement age.
The Issue: Carbon-dioxide levels are at 385 ppm, up from 360 in 2000.
What Next? Look for American participation in international negotiations over the Kyoto Protocol's successor, and for automobile fuel-economy standards to be raised.
The Issue: Stem-cell research is hampered by a federal funding ban.
What Next? The new administration could end federal restrictions, opening up the coffers. Additionally, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative will continue to generate $300 million annually for 10 years.
The Issue: National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health budgets are in decline, stifling key research.
What Next? Anyone's guess. In the interim, private foundations could fund medical, energy and agricultural innovation.
Read more of Popular Science's predictions for 2009.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.