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AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 22, Issue 26, December 20, 2021

  • Senate Advances Legislation to Help Wildlife, Corals
  • House Passes Chronic Wasting Disease Research Bill
  • House Hearing on Climate Readiness for Smithsonian’s Collections
  • NIH Requests Input on Potential Changes to Genomic Data Sharing Policy
  • AIBS Selects Winners of 2021 Photo Contest
  • Prepare Your Resume, Hone Your Interview Skills
  • Apply Now: 2022 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award
  • Short Takes
    • U.S. Government to be Net-Zero by 2050
    • Science Nominations Advance in the Senate
    • NSF Virtual Office Hours: Funding Opportunities for Research Resources in DBI
    • Space Council’s Mission Expanded to Include Climate Change
    • NSF Webinar on Understanding the Rules of Life Solicitation
  • 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.

 

Senate Advances Legislation to Help Wildlife, Corals

Wildlife conservation efforts could receive significant new funding under legislation under consideration in the Senate.  Supporters are calling Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S. 2372) “the largest, most significant investment in wildlife and habitat conservation in a generation.”

State fish and wildlife agencies would receive $1.3 billion annually for implementation of their wildlife action plans under the bill.  Tribal governments would receive an additional $97.5 million each year.  The funding would be targeted to wildlife species, and their habitats, of greatest conservation need and aims to prevent the decline of species and their listings under the Endangered Species Act.  The funding would come from fines paid by polluters and entities convicted of environmental crimes.

The legislation is sponsored by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and was considered in a recent hearing by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  A companion bill in the House is sponsored by Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).

Another bill advancing in the Senate is the “Restoring Resilient Reefs Act of 2021.” S. 46 would reauthorize a federal coral reef conservation program that expired 15 years ago.  The legislation makes frequent mention of “science-based” management and would provide grants for coral restoration activities, including research on population viability of listed coral species and translation of coral genetics research to ecosystem restoration.  Additionally, two cooperative institutes will be established—one in the Pacific Ocean and one in the Atlantic Ocean—to conduct research, support monitoring, and educate the public.

 

House Passes Chronic Wasting Disease Research Bill

The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act (H.R. 5608) would create a research and management program for chronic wasting disease—a fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk, and moose.  The House of Representatives passed the research measure by voice vote in early December.  The research program would be part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and would study the transmission of, resistance to, and diagnosis of chronic wasting disease.  The bill authorizes up to $70 million a year through fiscal year 2028, although that number is subject to appropriations.

 

House Hearing on Climate Readiness for Smithsonian’s Collections

The Committee on House Administration held a hearing on December 16, 2021 on the threats posed by climate change to the collections and facilities of the Smithsonian Institution.

“In Washington, and in particular on the National Mall, the effects of climate change most significantly would be in the form of sea level rise and flooding,” said Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).  “The changing climate poses a danger to the Smithsonian’s facilities and the irreplaceable treasures contained therein.”  Lofgren also called climate change “a threat to our preserved history and future generations’ access to it.”

The New York Times recently documented how floodwaters are seeping into some of Smithsonian’s buildings.  And one witness before the committee described the area as “the bottom of a bowl,” with water coming from all sides.  More intense storms also increase the risk for wind damage.  However, no item in Smithsonian’s collections have been damaged to date because of flooding.

The Smithsonian released a climate change action plan this year.  The most vulnerable facilities are the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of American History, which are flood-prone and have extensive below ground storage spaces.  The Institution’s facilities director, Nancy Bechtol, said that the risks highlighted in the Times articles are known risks and that as climate changes, it’s becoming more challenging to maintain environmental controls for collections.

Smithsonian is gradually replacing open shelving with gasketed storage cabinetry to protect collections from water and humidity.  Additionally, a new storage building in Suitland, Maryland will store some art collections currently housed in basements.

Cathy Helm, the Inspector General for the Smithsonian Institution, reminded the committee of the “pattern of issues, such as inadequate preservation practices, insufficient inventory controls, and security of collections that do not meet Smithsonian standards” and “long-standing challenges” in deferred maintenance that are only worsening with time. The net effect is that Smithsonian’s collections “are already at risk…it’s not just future risk.”

Committee members raised questions about the Smithsonian’s maintenance funding levels. The requested budget was for 1 percent of current replacement value, which is well below the 2-4 percent recommended by the National Research Council.

Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL) called for a stop to the “hypocrisy of building new museums” while also planning for more flooding in the area. During the course of the hearing, however, information was presented about the success of designing the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016, to withstand flooding.

 

NIH Requests Input on Potential Changes to Genomic Data Sharing Policy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is soliciting public input on potential updates to its Genomic Data Sharing Policy “to keep pace with evolving scientific opportunities and stakeholder expectations.”

Issued in 2014, the NIH Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) Policy established expectations for ensuring the broad, responsible, and timely sharing of genomic research data generated from NIH-funded or conducted research.  While the principles underlying the policy remain relevant today, NIH has adjusted its implementation to keep pace as genomic sequencing and related technologies have become increasingly integral to biomedical research.

With NIH’s new Data Management and Sharing Policy going into effect in January 2023, the agency is looking to reassess its current GDS policy to ensure it remains consistent with the changing research landscape.  As such the agency has issued a Request for Information asking for input on a number of issues, including maximizing data sharing while preserving participant privacy and preferences; expectations for alternative NIH-supported genomic data management and sharing resources that store human genomic data; data management and sharing principles for NIH-supported resources; harmonization of the genomic data sharing policy with the final NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy; and the longer-term scope of the GDS policy.  Comments will be accepted until February 28, 2022.

 

AIBS Selects Winners of 2021 Photo Contest

Three winners have been selected in the 2021 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. “AIBS launched this photo contest ten years ago to inspire scientists, educators, and students to communicate their work in a creative way to a broader audience. We are grateful to have SICB’s support this year in telling the story of science.”

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.

View the winning photos.

 

Prepare Your Resume, Hone Your Interview Skills

Registration is open for the Employment Acquisition Skills Boot Camp for Scientists, an online professional development program from the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS).

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate programs in the United States do an excellent job of preparing students for careers in academia. As early career professionals and a growing number of reports note, however, many recent STEM graduates (including those with advanced degrees) are interested in employment in sectors beyond the professoriate by the time they complete their degree.

Scientists continue to report that they feel ill-prepared and ill-equipped to pursue employment in these settings.

To help scientists identify and successfully transition into the careers they desire, the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) developed a program to help scientists hone and practice the skills needed to secure employment. AIBS’s Employment Acquisition Skills Boot Camp for Scientists is an intensive multi-day program that blends asynchronous modules, live lecture, and hands-on exercises. Designed by scientists with years of work experience in diverse settings and a career coach, this program provides graduate students to senior scientists with the information, tools, and resources required to successfully identify and secure employment in a diversity of careers, including science policy, communications, researchers or program managers in the private sector, research funding organizations, non-profit management, international development, government agencies, and others.

Course participants will:

  • Identify and clarify career interests and opportunities by reviewing currently available jobs;
  • Learn to communicate their knowledge and skills to employers by providing tools and activities;
  • Develop strategies for finding employment;
  • Develop application materials with feedback from instructors;
  • Prepare for and practice different interview styles and scenarios.

Current graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and scientists interested in transitioning to a new employment sector should consider signing up.

This course will be offered online in three live sessions, each three hours long, conducted on February 11, February 18, and February 25, 2022 from 1:00 - 4:00 PM Eastern Time. In addition, participants will be asked to review short pre-recorded modules asynchronously.

For more information, including a general program agenda, and to register, please visit our website

 

Apply Now: 2022 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 2022 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 over three days in the spring of 2022 (likely in March or April). Domestic travel and hotel expenses are paid for the winners.
  • Policy and communications training, including information on the legislative process and 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 2022 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, including Honorable Mentions, are not eligible for the award.

Applications are due by 05:00 PM Eastern Time on January 19, 2022. Learn more about how to apply.

 

Short Takes

  • President Biden issued an executive order for the federal government to be carbon neutral by 2050.  As an intermediate milestone, the government would need to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by 2030 and all government facilities will need to be powered by carbon-free energy sources that year.
  • The Senate is advancing President Biden’s nominations for several scientific positions, including Chris Frey to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s science office and Jainey Bavishi to be the Assistant Secretary of Oceans and Atmosphere for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Each nomination has been approved by a Senate committee and is awaiting action by the full Senate.
  • Join the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 at 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET for a Virtual Office Hour, where Program Officers will introduce and update programs in research resources (RR) and provide tips on how to write a great RR proposal.  There will be a 30-minute presentation, followed by an open Q&A session with Program Officers.
  • The National Space Council, a federal advisory committee, has been directed by the Biden Administration to also focus on climate change and education.  The Council’s new framework specifically calls out satellites for Earth observation to support climate efforts.
  • NSF will hold a webinar on Friday, January 7, 2022 from 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM ET about their revised solicitation under the Understanding the Rules of Life: Emerging Networks (URoL:EN) program.  Program Officers will provide an introduction of the revised cross-Directorate solicitation and will be available for questions.
 

From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from December 6 to 17, 2021. 

Commerce

Energy

Environmental Protection Agency

Health and Human Services

Interior

National Science Foundation

Office of Science and Technology Policy

 

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 over 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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