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AIBS Public Policy Report

AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 23, Issue 26, December 19, 2022

  • Participate in the 2023 AIBS Congressional Visits Day
  • Lawmakers Scramble to Pass FY 2023 Funding by Year End
  • Farm Bill Hearing Spotlights Shrinking Funding for Agricultural Research
  • National Alliance Launched at White House STEMM Equity Summit
  • Congress Passes Defense Authorization Bill with Research, Environment Provisions
  • Societies Join AIBS in Submitting Comments on the One Health Security Act
  • Kick-off Webinar & Discussion: The Need for a Specimen Management Plan Requirement
  • Winners Selected in the 2022 Faces of Biology Photo Contest
  • Apply for the 2023 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award
  • Short Takes
    • Nominations Sought for New Climate Adaptation Science Advisory Council
    • U.S. Global Change Research Program Releases Decadal Strategic Plan
    • DOE Announces Research Opportunities for Underrepresented Groups
  • From the Federal Register
 

The AIBS Public Policy Report is distributed broadly by email every two weeks. Any interested party may self-subscribe to receive these free reports by email.

With proper attribution to AIBS, all material from these reports may be reproduced or forwarded. AIBS staff appreciates receiving copies of materials used. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact the AIBS Director of Public Policy, Jyotsna Pandey, at 202-628-1500 x 225.

 

Participate in the 2023 AIBS Congressional Visits Day

Join the American Institute of Biological Sciences on April 24-26, 2023 for our annual Congressional Visits Day in Washington, DC.  We are going back to the in-person format in 2023 after holding this event virtually in 2021 and 2022.

Meet with your members of Congress to help them understand the important role the federal government plays in supporting the biological sciences. Advocate for federal investments in biological sciences research supported by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies.

Participants will complete a communications and advocacy training program provided by AIBS that prepares them to be effective advocates for their science. AIBS will provide participants with background information and materials, as well as arrange meetings with lawmakers on April 26.

Who should participate?

Scientists, graduate students, educators, or other science community members who are interested in advocating for scientific research and education are encouraged to participate in this important event.

The ideal participant will:

  • Have an interest in science policy.
  • Work in a scientific profession or be enrolled in graduate school.
  • Be able to speak about the importance of biological research funded by federal agencies (e.g. NSF, NIH, USDA).
  • Provide compelling examples from their own experiences.

Training

The event includes a free, half-day training session on how to be an effective advocate for science policy. This training session will be held on April 25, 2023 and is mandatory for everyone who will be participating in congressional meetings.

Additionally, participants have the option to attend the highly acclaimed AIBS Communications Boot Camp for Scientists. This training course will be held in Washington, DC on April 24-25, 2023. This professional development program provides practical instruction and interactive exercises designed to help scientists (e.g. researchers, graduate students, administrators, educators) translate scientific information for non-technical audiences and to effectively engage with decision-makers and the news media. All participants who complete this optional training will receive priority access to the Congressional Visits Day and a certificate of completion indicating that they have successfully completed 16 hours of communications training. Click here for more information, including cost, for this two-day training program.

Registration

Express your interest in participating in the event by registering. Registration closes on March 13, 2023.  Space is limited and we encourage you to register early.  If registrations exceed program capacity, AIBS may prioritize registrants based on participation in the boot camp training, geographic diversity, and other factors.  Register now.

 

Lawmakers Scramble to Pass FY 2023 Funding by Year End

Congress passed a short-term funding measure last week to temporarily avert a government shutdown and push back by another week the deadline to pass a longer-term fiscal year (FY) 2023 spending package.

Negotiators reached a deal last week on the framework for a year-end spending package to fund the federal government through the end of FY 2023.  Although there is agreement on top-line spending levels, funding details for federal agencies have yet to be released.

The previous stopgap funding expired on December 16.  The new deadline of December 23 has given negotiators a little more time to finalize the specifics of the final omnibus package.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he has placed a deadline of December 22 for the Senate “to complete either a full-year funding bill or a short-term [continuing resolution] into early next year.”  He added, “That is the deadline, and those are the two options.”

Science agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health have been operating at FY 2022 funding levels since the new fiscal year began on October 1.  AIBS has called for lawmakers to complete FY 2023 appropriations before the end of the calendar year and to fund NSF as close as possible to $11.9 billion, the level authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act.

 

Farm Bill Hearing Spotlights Shrinking Funding for Agricultural Research

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry recently held a hearing on the farm bill with a focus on agricultural research programs.  The farm bill is a package of legislation passed roughly every five years that authorizes farm programs ranging from crop insurance for farmers, and natural resource conservation efforts, to research, education, and extension.  The current farm bill, which was passed in 2018, expires next September 30.

The hearing highlighted the issue of shrinking U.S. funding for agriculture research, which covers a wide range of topics, including the impact of climate change on food production, sustainable farming practices, and food safety and security. 

“In recent years funding for public agricultural research in the U.S. has declined, which is concerning,” said Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in her opening remarks.  “Meanwhile China has quintupled its investment in public agricultural research since 2000 and now invests twice as much as the US.”

Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Research, Education and Economics, said that researchers who work in land-grant universities or in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies often work in buildings and labs in serious need of upgrades.  “We know that many of the scientists that support our industry are working in crumbling facilities,” she added, noting that the Agriculture Research Service’s buildings are on average 47 years old.

Jacobs-Young also noted that U.S. public investment in agricultural research has declined by a third in the past 20 years, leading to a missed opportunity for economic gains.  According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, research and development in agriculture yields about $20 for every dollar of public investment.  She argued that science needs a boost as Congress considers the 2023 farm bill, which will authorize farm programs for another five years.   

While research is generally a bipartisan issue in Congress, calls to significantly increase investments in agricultural research have largely gone unheard.  Although the Inflation Reduction Act, passed earlier this year, included $40 billion for agriculture and rural development, agricultural research did not see much of a boost from previous years.

 

National Alliance Launched at White House STEMM Equity Summit

On December 12, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), along with the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF), co-hosted the White House Summit on STEMM Equity and Excellence, where they unveiled a new national initiative to coordinate public, private, and philanthropic efforts to expand access and opportunity across science and technology fields. 

The event convened representatives from government, industry, and academia and featured talks that highlighted the importance of diversity, equity, inclusivity and accessibility efforts to achieve scientific excellence.

At the summit, AAAS and DDCF launched the new STEMM Opportunity Alliance (SOA), a national initiative to coordinate efforts to sustain American global leadership by advancing equity across the STEMM fields of science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine.  The SOA intends to bring together groups that are committed to developing and advancing a national strategy for achieving shared goals for equity in STEMM.  This multi-sector alliance will coordinate efforts across more than 90 partners from government, businesses, civic, academic, nonprofit, and philanthropic organizations, including AIBS.

OSTP also shared its national vision for transforming the American STEMM ecosystem that lays out five areas for “coordinated multisector action.” These include: (1) ensuring every person has the opportunity to participate in and contribute to science and technology throughout their lifetime; (2) investing in the STEMM teacher pipeline; (3) bringing greater parity to investment in the communities, institutions, and people that have been historically excluded from access to STEMM resources; (4) acknowledging and addressing the fact that the culture of science has tolerated bias and discrimination; and finally (5) closing the STEMM information gap by generating better and more comprehensive data, developing shared indicators, and committing to greater transparency.

Additionally, the White House announced a series of actions across various sectors to “eliminate systemic barriers” in the STEMM ecosystem.  This factsheet summarizes a wide-ranging slate of multi-sector commitments, including those from federal science agencies.

 

Congress Passes Defense Authorization Bill with Research, Environment Provisions

Last week, Congress passed with bipartisan support the annual defense policy bill, called the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.  The $858 billion package contains several research and environmental provisions of note.

The bill would establish a 10-year pilot program at the Department of Defense aimed at increasing research capacity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions.

The final bill incorporates a measure called the “Eliminate, Neutralize and Disrupt Wildlife Trafficking Reauthorization and Improvements Act” that aims to combat international wildlife trafficking.  The measure reinforces legislation signed into law in 2016 and expands the responsibilities of the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking.  “The threats posed by wildlife poaching and trafficking are constantly evolving,” said Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), adding that the bill would “empower the task force with improved tools to help combat this crime.”

Also attached are provisions covering the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including a series of provisions aimed at protecting marine mammals.  The bill reauthorizes the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 and the Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Conservation Act of 1998.  It establishes a U.S. Coral Reef Task Force to coordinate government actions to preserve, conserve, and restore coral reef ecosystems and requires agencies to develop a national coral reef resilience strategy.

The final bill, however, did not include controversial research security provisions from the Safeguarding American Innovation Act (S.1351) that aimed to protect U.S.-funded research against exploitation by foreign countries.

 

Societies Join AIBS in Submitting Comments on the One Health Security Act

Eighteen scientific societies and organizations, led by AIBS, have sent a joint letter to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) providing input on her forthcoming legislation, the One Health Security Act.

The One Health Security Act aims to create a mechanism to enhance interagency coordination, streamline funding, and strengthen our early warning and detection networks to rapidly respond to emerging biological threats.  Senator Gillibrand’s office is currently accepting comments on the discussion draft of the bill, with plans to re-introduce the measure in the next Congress.

The joint letter urges that the bill be expanded to include biodiversity infrastructure (e.g., biorepositories, associated digital assets, expertise, field stations, and our vast natural resource agencies) as a critical component of our national research infrastructure for pathogen prediction, surveillance, and mitigation.  The letter accompanies a set of proposed edits to the bill text.

 

Kick-off Webinar & Discussion: The Need for a Specimen Management Plan Requirement

Please join representatives from the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) and the U.S. Culture Collection Network (USCCN) for a joint webinar discussion on the need for a Specimen Management Plan requirement in research proposals that generate living or preserved specimens. Recommended by the National Academies’ report on biological collections in 2020, this requirement is now supported by the recently enacted CHIPS and Science Act.  Join us for a discussion about the elements of a specimen management plan and its benefits to various stakeholder communities.

Location: Online via Zoom (The program will be recorded)
Date: Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM ET

Hosted by: American Institute of Biological Sciences & Natural Science Collections Alliance

Register now

 

Winners Selected in the 2022 Faces of Biology Photo Contest

Three winners have been selected in the 2022 Faces of Biology Photo Contest, sponsored by the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB). 

“Photography is an effective tool to help people understand how scientific research is done,” said Scott Glisson, CEO of AIBS. “This contest provides a forum for expression, inspiration, and technical skill.”

The competition showcases biological research in its many forms and settings. The photos are used to help the public and policymakers better understand the value of biological research and education, as well as relate to research and researchers on a more personal level.

A forthcoming issue of the journal BioScience will feature the first-place photograph on the cover and the second- and third-place photos in an article. All of the winners receive a one-year subscription to BioScience. The first place winner will also receive $250.

View the winning photos.

 

Apply for the 2023 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award

Are you a science graduate student looking to make a difference in science policy and funding? The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is now accepting applications for the 2023 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award.  This award recognizes graduate students in the biological sciences who are demonstrating an interest and aptitude for working at the intersection of science and policy.

Recipients of the AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award receive:

  • A trip to Washington, DC, to participate in the AIBS Congressional Visits Day, an annual event where scientists meet with lawmakers to advocate for federal investment in the biological sciences, with a primary focus on the National Science Foundation. The event will be held on April 24-26, 2023. Domestic travel and hotel expenses are paid for the winners.
  • Policy and communications training, including information on the legislative process, trends in federal science funding, and how to engage with policymakers and the news media.
  • Meetings with congressional policymakers to discuss the importance of federal investment in the biological sciences.
  • A one-year subscription to the journal BioScience.

The 2023 award is open to U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents enrolled in a graduate degree program in the biological sciences, science education, or a closely allied field.  Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in and commitment to science policy and/or science education policy.  Prior recipients are not eligible for the award. 

Applications are due by 05:00 PM Eastern Time on January 18, 2023. Learn more about how to apply.

 

Short Takes

  • The Department of the Interior is seeking nominations for the Advisory Council for Climate Adaptation Science.  The Council will advise the Secretary of the Interior on the establishment and operations of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Climate Adaptation Science Center and its nine regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers. Nominations are due January 16, 2023.
  • The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), have released a new strategic plan that outlines their priorities for the next decade. The plan is organized around four pillars, which include advancing science, engaging the nation, informing decisions, and collaborating internationally.  Notably, the strategy includes an increased emphasis on social science and Indigenous Knowledge.  USGCRP coordinates climate research across 13 federal agencies and leads the development of the congressional mandated National Climate Assessment report. 
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $32 million in awards to 37 institutions to support historically underrepresented groups in STEM and to “diversify American leadership in the physical sciences, including energy and climate.”  This funding, made available through the DOE Office of Science’s Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW) initiative, will support internships, training programs, and mentor opportunities at HBCUs and other minority serving institutions.
 

From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from December 5 to 16, 2022. 

Commerce

Environmental Protection Agency

Health and Human Services

National Institute of Standards and Technology

National Science Foundation

 

The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a non-profit 501(c)3 public charity organization that advances the biological sciences for the benefit of science and society. AIBS works with like-minded organizations, funding agencies, and political entities to promote the use of science to inform decision-making. The organization does this by providing peer-reviewed or vetted information about the biology field and profession and by catalyzing action through building the capacity and the leadership of the community to address matters of common concern.

Founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences, AIBS became an independent, member-governed organization in the 1950s. Today, AIBS has more than 100 member organizations and has a Public Policy Office in Washington, DC. Its staff members work to achieve its mission by publishing the peer-reviewed journal BioScience, by providing scientific peer-review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients, and by collaborating with scientific organizations to advance public policy, education, and the public understanding of science.

Website: www.aibs.org.

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