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AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 23, Issue 4, February 14, 2022

  • AIBS’ 2021 Policy Accomplishments Documented in Annual Report
  • House Passes Expansive Innovation Legislation
  • OSTP Director Resigns After Reports of Bullying
  • Scientific Societies Urge Congress to Finalize FY 2022 Appropriations
  • AIBS Expresses Support for Tracking Pathogens Act
  • Lawmakers, Conservation Groups Call for a National Biodiversity Strategy
  • Prepare Your Resume, Hone Your Interview Skills
  • Participate in the 2022 AIBS Virtual Advocacy Event
  • Short Takes
    • Nominations Sought for National Medal of Science
    • Webinar on Climate Change and Biodiversity
    • Apply for the Gulf Research Program’s Science Policy Fellowship
    • Legislation to Protect USGS Climate Science Centers Introduced
  • 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.


AIBS’ 2021 Policy Accomplishments Documented in Annual Report

The AIBS Public Policy Office has released its annual report for 2021.  The report summarizes our policy work and accomplishments during 2021.

Highlights include:

  • Helped 75 scientists become advocates for science.
  • Endorsed and rallied support for legislation to make significant new investments in the National Science Foundation (NSF).
  • Increased awareness of the needs of the biological sciences community by facilitating 64 meetings between scientists and lawmakers.
  • Provided professional development training to 230 scientists.
  • Provided recommendations to the White House on strengthening federal scientific integrity policies.
  • Provided comments to the Biden Administration on the scientific framework for the new Advanced Research Project Agency – Health (ARPA-H).
  • Urged President Biden to champion legislation endorsed by AIBS to provide $25 billion in emergency relief funding for federal science agencies.
  • Through an NSF-funded virtual workshop series, engaged the international scientific community in policy discussions about the application of access and benefit sharing principles to digital sequence information.
  • Called on the Biden Administration and Congress to provide visa assistance and other support to displaced Afghan scientists.
  • Endorsed legislation aimed at scaling up efforts to track COVID-19 variants.

Read the 2021 Public Policy Office Annual Report.


House Passes Expansive Innovation Legislation

On February 4, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521) — a broad legislative package that would make significant investments in science and innovation with the goal of increasing U.S. competitiveness with China.

The House voted 222-210 to pass the measure, with only one Republican voting for it and one Democrat voting against it.  Notably, the COMPETES Act would make investments in U.S. semiconductor production and federal research agencies, including authorizing significant new spending at the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.  The sprawling legislation also aims to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM fields, combat sexual harassment in science, improve retention of international STEM talent, and prohibit federal grant recipients from participating in “malign” foreign talent recruitment programs.  Read a summary of the bill's science provisions.

It is important to note that the bill’s passage does not guarantee that the authorized science funding increases will actually be doled out.  Funds will ultimately need to be appropriated by Congress through the annual federal budget process.  

The COMPETES Act also includes provisions for international climate efforts and other environmental provisions that several Republican members of Congress have opposed.  In particular, Republicans have criticized an $8 billion authorization for the Green Climate Fund, a U.N. supported resilience program intended to help developing nations address climate change.  Republicans have also objected to provisions on trade and labor policy, although they largely support the research portions of the bill.  According to House Science Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), the bill “undoes more than a year of bipartisan work by the House Science Committee to develop and pass comprehensive legislation to double investment in basic research.”  He argued that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “hijacked good bipartisan bills dealing with U.S. competitiveness and countering the malign influence of China to pass another Democratic wish list that will go nowhere in the Senate.”

The passage of the House bill sets in motion conference negotiations with the Senate to reconcile differences between the $350 billion America COMPETES Act and the $250 billion U.S. Innovation and Competition Act or USICA (S. 1260), which the Senate passed last summer.  USICA has more bipartisan support, with 19 Republican senators voting in favor of it, and is less focused on environmental action.  Lawmakers hope to negotiate a final bill by this spring.


OSTP Director Resigns After Reports of Bullying

Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and President Biden’s science adviser Dr. Eric Lander resigned last week after an internal investigation revealed that he had mistreated and bullied his subordinates.

On February 7, Politico reported that a two-month White House investigation concluded that Lander violated the White House’s workplace policy.  “The investigation found credible evidence of instances of multiple women having complained to other staff about negative interactions with Dr. Lander, where he spoke to them in a demeaning or abrasive way in front of other staff,” said Christian Peele, Deputy Director of Management and Administration at the White House.  

Former OSTP General Counsel Rachel Wallace, who was demoted to Deputy Counsel by Lander, noted that he “retaliated against staff for speaking out and asking questions by calling them names, disparaging them, embarrassing them in front of their peers, laughing at them, shunning them, taking away their duties, and replacing them or driving them out of the agency.  Numerous women have been left in tears, traumatized, and feeling vulnerable and isolated.”  The White House report found credible evidence of bullying and disrespectful interactions with staff by Lander but did not find credible evidence of gender-based discrimination.

Lander apologized for his conduct in an email to OSTP staff.  “I am deeply sorry for my conduct.  I especially want to apologize to those of you who I treated poorly or were present at the time,” he stated.  “It’s my responsibility to set a respectful tone for our community.  It’s clear that I have not lived up to this responsibility.  I have spoken to colleagues within OSTP in a disrespectful or demeaning way.”

Following the Politico report, House Science, Space, and Technology Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) sent a letter to the President calling the allegations “extremely troubling” and requesting a copy of the White House’s report.

After growing pressure from the scientific community, OSTP staff, and lawmakers Lander resigned late on February 7.  His resignation goes into effect February 18.  Lander—a geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician—was the first biologist to serve as the OSTP Director.  Researchers hope that a successor will soon be named by the Biden Administration.  “We just need, as quickly as possible, someone in the driver’s seat who’s respected inside and outside the White House,” said Neal Lane, a physicist who served as science adviser to President Clinton.


Scientific Societies Urge Congress to Finalize FY 2022 Appropriations

AIBS has joined 55 other scientific societies in a letter urging Congress to finalize fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations with robust funding for scientific research and development.  

More than four months into FY 2022, Congress has passed two continuing resolutions to avert government shutdowns, but this stopgap approach expires on February 18, 2022.  The societies urged lawmakers “to continue the push and finish the job to avoid a long-term continuing resolution (CR).”

“Our nation faces ongoing public health, environmental, economic and security challenges, and a long-term CR would harm the historically bipartisan prioritization of funding for research and development (R&D) agencies that play a critical role in addressing those challenges, as well as the ability for these agencies to properly plan for the future,” the societies argued.

Since this letter was sent, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed another CR to keep the government operational at FY 2021 spending levels until March 11, 2022.  The Senate is expected to pass the stopgap measure this week.  Meanwhile, appropriators have reached a bicameral, bipartisan agreement on the framework for the FY 2022 omnibus spending package, the specifics for which have not yet been released.  The latest CR will provide lawmakers three more weeks to hash out the details and pass a spending package that would total roughly $1.5 trillion.


AIBS Expresses Support for Tracking Pathogens Act

AIBS has joined a group of scientific and public health stakeholder organizations in expressing support for the Tracking Pathogens Act (S. 3534), sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).  The measure builds on funding provided for COVID-19 genomic sequencing and surveillance and seeks to strengthen pathogen genomics to prepare for future outbreaks. 

The Tracking Pathogens Act would extend the work initiated under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319) by supporting and enhancing existing genomic sequencing and surveillance activities, supporting continued partnerships between public health entities and the broader academic research and clinical laboratory ecosystem, and codifying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Centers of Excellence to promote innovation in genomic sequencing and molecular epidemiology.  S. 3534 would also authorize sustained annual funding of $175 million for a period of five years for the Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) program at the CDC.

On February 4, 2022, the organizations sent a letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee thanking them for including the Tracking Pathogens Act in the Committee’s discussion draft of the PREVENT Pandemics Act – bipartisan legislation focused on strengthening the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response.

“The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant underscores the need for sustained investments to bolster sequencing capacity to identify, track, and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 strains,” the groups argued.  “Significantly boosting U.S. genetic surveillance and viral sequencing is key to moving beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and effectively responding to future challenges not only associated with novel and evolving infectious diseases, but also seasonal threats, antimicrobial resistance and foodborne pathogens.”


Lawmakers, Conservation Groups Call for a National Biodiversity Strategy

Conservation organizations and members of Congress have teamed up in calling on the Biden Administration to formally adopt a national biodiversity strategy.

“As human activity continues to threaten the health and well-being of our planet’s wildlife and biodiversity, it is with the utmost urgency that the United States must take this opportunity to be a world leader in conservation and climate action,” said Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO), who is the lead author of H.Res. 69, a nonbinding resolution calling for the development of a national strategy to tackle the “unprecedented biodiversity crisis.”  The resolution currently has 39 co-sponsors—all of them Democrats with the exception of Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

In a letter to the White House, a group of 50 lawmakers urged President Biden “to strengthen the nation’s response to escalating species extinctions and restore America’s role as a global leader in biodiversity conservation.”  The letter argues that a national biodiversity strategy “would build on existing policy initiatives while providing the strategic, comprehensive, and whole-of-government approach urgently needed to secure our nation’s rich biodiversity.”

Environment groups, including Defenders of Wildlife, the World Wildlife Fund, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, have amplified this call for concerted action.  “If the extinction crisis continues unabated, our nation will lose our unique landscapes, wildlife and biodiversity forever,” stated Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife.


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 May 20, May 27, and June 3, 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.


Participate in the 2022 AIBS Virtual Advocacy Event

Join the American Institute of Biological Sciences on April 25-29, 2022 for our Virtual Advocacy Event.  This virtual event replaces our annual in-person Congressional Visits Day in Washington, DC.  As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to continue with the virtual format this year.

Meet with your members of Congress virtually 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 receive online communications and advocacy training.  AIBS will also provide participants with background information and materials, as well as arrange online meetings with lawmakers on April 27-29.

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.


The Virtual Advocacy 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 26 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 online professional development course will be held on April 25-26.  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 receive priority access to the Virtual Advocacy Event 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 closes on March 16, 2022.  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.


Short Takes

  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking nominations for the National Medal of Science (NMS) until May 20, 2022.  The NMS is the highest recognition the nation can bestow on scientists and engineers.  It was established by the 86th Congress in 1959 as a Presidential Award to be given to individuals “deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, or engineering sciences.”  Learn more.
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) is holding a webinar on climate change, biodiversity loss, and approaches to address both crises.  The discussion will be webcast on the Climate Conversations: Biodiversity webpage on Thursday, February 24, 2022, from 3:00-4:00 PM ET.  The event will include a discussion of the new National Academies resource, Biodiversity at Risk: Today’s Choices Matter.  Register here.
  • The NASEM Gulf Research Program’s Science Policy Fellowship program is currently accepting applications until March 2, 2022.  The program helps scientists hone their skills by putting them to practice.  Fellows gain first-hand experience as they spend one year on the staff of federal, state, local, or non-governmental environmental, natural resource, oil and gas, and public health agencies in the Gulf of Mexico region.  Learn more and apply.
  • House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) have introduced legislation (H.R. 6654) to permanently authorize the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASC).  Established in 2008, the CASC program includes nine regional centers that are responsible for developing the science and tools needed to address the effects of climate change on land, water, wildlife, fish, ecosystems, and communities.  If enacted, the bill would authorize a funding level of $97 million for the centers in fiscal year (FY) 2023.  That amount would grow to $145 million in FY 2027.  The program received $41.3 million in FY 2021.

From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from January 31 to February 11, 2022. 



Environmental Protection Agency

Health and Human Services

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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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