The National Science Foundation (NSF) was established in 1950 by the federal government. The NSF’s purpose is to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure national defense”. The NSF operates with an annual budget of approximately 7 billion dollars. A fourth of this budget is geared towards funding federally sponsored research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines across the nation where rudimentary research is conducted by colleges and universities. Vassar Applied Optics Laboratory is currently funded by an NFS grant.