AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 24, Issue 5, February 27, 2023
- Read About AIBS’ Science Policy Achievements in 2022
- AIBS Announces Recipients of the 2023 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award
- NASEM Diversity Study Calls for Organizational Culture Change
- ‘Forever Chemicals’ Research Bill Reintroduced
- NIH Seeks Input on Postdoctoral Research Training and Career Progression
- AIBS Endorses Statement Reaffirming Support for Academic Freedom, DEI Initiatives
- Participate in the 2023 AIBS Congressional Visits Day
- Input Sought: The Need for a Specimen Management Plan Requirement
- Short Takes
- NIH Requests Comments on Public Access Plan
- COVID Expert to Serve as UK’s New Science Adviser
- Upcoming NSF Webinar: Safe, Inclusive Work Environments Plan Requirement
- Invasive Species Advisory Committee to Meet in March
- 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.
Read About AIBS’ Science Policy Achievements in 2022
The AIBS Public Policy Office has released its annual report for 2022. This report describes the work AIBS has done this past year in collaboration with our members and partners to advocate for policies that advance biology.
Read about our accomplishments in science policy, which include:
- Secured passage of the historic CHIPS and Science Act that authorizes critical new investments in our nation’s science and technology enterprise, including doubling the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) authorized budget over a 5-year period.
- Ensured that language supporting biological collections and field stations were included in the finalized CHIPS and Science Act.
- Helped 112 scientists become advocates for science.
- Endorsed the One Health Security Act, which aims to enhance interagency coordination, streamline funding, and strengthen early warning and detection networks to rapidly respond to biological threats.
- Through the USA Nagoya Protocol Action Group, provided input to the U.S. State Department and United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity stakeholders on policy options for access and benefit sharing of digital sequence information.
- Supported efforts to secure inclusion of nearly all provisions of the Tracking Pathogens Act, a legislation aimed at strengthening pathogen genomics surveillance, in the fiscal year 2023 omnibus spending package.
- Worked with our science community partners to secure notable funding increases for science in fiscal year 2023, including a $1 billion or 12 percent boost for NSF—the largest funding increase the agency has ever received.
- Weighed in on the Supreme Court’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) case by filing an amici curiae brief with 11 other scientific societies.
- Increased awareness of the needs of the biological sciences community by facilitating 62 meetings between scientists and lawmakers.
- Provided professional development training to 162 scientists.
Read the 2022 Public Policy Office Annual Report.
AIBS Announces Recipients of the 2023 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award
The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is pleased to announce that Elena Suglia and Mohammad Inam Jameel have been selected to receive the 2023 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award (EPPLA). The award recognizes graduate students in the biological sciences who have demonstrated leadership skills and an aptitude for working at the intersection of science and public policy.
Elena Suglia is a Ph.D. student in population biology at the University of California in Davis, California. For her doctoral research, supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, she studies how climate change affects native California plants, using evolutionary ecology and genomics. Suglia intends to pursue a career working at the intersection of science, policy, and social justice. She has over 9 years of experience in science policy and science communication. She has coordinated science cafes, organized a science communication colloquium for the public, and has written over a dozen popular science articles, including a blog for the Scientific American. She currently serves as Graduate Advisor to the Dean of Biology on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice and is a member of the Population Biology Student Diversity Committee. Suglia earned her bachelor's in biology from Brown University, where she also served as the Science Policy Director for the Triple Helix, a student-run science blog.
Mohammad Inam Jameel is a Ph.D. student in genetics at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia. Jameel conducts research at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado to understand how natural populations adapt to climate change. Jameel’s interest in science policy was sparked after he enrolled in University of California, Irvine’s, Science Policy and Advocacy certificate program. Jameel is active in his professional community. He currently serves as the President of Science Policy, Education, Advocacy, and Research, a student science policy group organization at UGA. He previously served as the President of the Genetics Graduate Student Association and as the Associate Editor for the Athens Science Observer, where he helped graduate students write about science for a broad audience. He is a recipient of the Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award from the Ecological Society of America. He is a member of the Society for the Study of Evolution, as well as the Genetics Society of America, where he serves on a policy and advocacy panel. Jameel earned his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech.
The EPPLA program is in its 20th year of recognizing emerging student leaders in science policy. Suglia and Jameel will travel to Washington, DC, in April to participate in an AIBS science communications training program and to meet with their members of Congress as part of the annual AIBS Congressional Visits Day. In addition, they will receive a one-year subscription to the scientific journal BioScience.
AIBS is recognizing an additional graduate student leader with an Honorable Mention award. Emma Thrift is a Ph.D. student in biology at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.
Read the press release.
NASEM Diversity Study Calls for Organizational Culture Change
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) calls for change in organizational cultures to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) fields.
The report, “Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations: Beyond Broadening Participation,” contends that higher education institutions and STEMM organizations need to go beyond a focus on simply broadening participation from minoritized racial and ethnic groups. Organizations need to change their organizational cultures and environments to dismantle the barriers created by systemic racism and implicit bias. It calls on institutions to “create environments that focus on inclusive excellence, where all participants have access to educational and professional opportunities, feel included, and have the resources to actualize their full potential.”
The report argues that “racism at the individual and interpersonal levels impedes STEMM careers for people from minoritized groups” and that this behavior “is often perpetuated by gatekeepers through stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.” These “gatekeepers” are individuals who have control over resources and hiring decisions.
It calls for organizations to change policies and practices at the individual, team, and organization levels. It makes several recommendations to bring about culture change, including creating inclusive and equitable teams that help to reduce interpersonal bias; developing and implementing plans to support people from minoritized groups at all levels of the organization; and reducing implicit bias and increasing accountability among individual gatekeepers.
Notably, the report urges predominantly White institutions of higher education and other organizations to look to HBCUs and tribal colleges and universities as “examples of providing intentional and culturally responsive student and faculty support” and seek guidance from and “sustainable partnerships” with minority serving institutions.
This study was conducted by the NASEM Committee on Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations, and was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Fred Kavli Endowment Fund, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Ralph J. Cicerone and Carol M. Cicerone Endowment for NAS Missions, Rita Allen Foundation, and the Shanahan Family Charitable Foundation.
‘Forever Chemicals’ Research Bill Reintroduced
Senators have reintroduced a bill to strengthen research efforts on PFAS chemicals. These chemicals are found in firefighting foam, carpets, and packaging and have been dubbed ‘forever chemicals’ since they don’t easily break down.
The Federal PFAS Research Evaluation Act passed in the House with bipartisan support last year but didn’t get out of committee in the Senate. It was reintroduced last week by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Jerry Moran (R-KS).
“These pervasive chemicals have found their way into our water, soil and products and that demands a comprehensive strategy, including robust resources for research, so we understand the full scope of human health implications,” said Senator Shaheen, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.
The bill would direct the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Defense Department, and the National Institutes of Health to partner with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct studies to identify knowledge gaps on PFAS, estimate human exposure to PFAS, and assess strategies for treating PFAS contamination. Additionally, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is charged with creating an implementation plan, based on these studies, for federal research, development, and demonstration activities related to PFAS.
The Biden Administration has been working to address PFAS through regulation. Earlier this month, a group of senators led by Senator Shaheen sent a letter to President Biden asking the White House for a budget request that boosts spending for PFAS research and cleanup efforts.
NIH Seeks Input on Postdoctoral Research Training and Career Progression
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a new Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from the extramural research community on the current state of postdoctoral training within the biomedical research enterprise.
The RFI, Re-envisioning U.S. Postdoctoral Research Training and Career Progression within the Biomedical Research Enterprise, invites input on factors influencing postdoctoral training, including fundamental issues and challenges that inhibit recruitment, retention, and overall quality of life of postdoctoral trainees in academic research. NIH is particularly interested in understanding the perspective and experience of recent and current postdoctoral trainees, postdoctoral office leaders, as well as graduate students considering becoming postdocs.
Comments received will guide the development of recommendations by the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director, an advisory group that provides advice on matters pertinent to NIH mission responsibilities. Comments are due April 14, 2023 and can be submitted here.
AIBS Endorses Statement Reaffirming Support for Academic Freedom, DEI Initiatives
AIBS has signed on to a statement, led by the Society of Personality and Social Psychology and signed by 19 other scientific societies, expressing concerns about recent policies enacted in Florida and other states that limit academic freedom in higher education and hinder initiatives that support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
“As scientific societies, our mission is to advance the teaching and application of science for the benefit of all people,” the societies note. “As part of this commitment, we support researchers who are examining the effects of systemic racism and discrimination in our society. We are also dedicated to monitoring and dismantling inequitable systems that continue to suppress many voices in our field.”
The statement strongly opposes interventions to censor the teaching of science or limit academic freedom and any actions designed to curb DEI initiatives at colleges and universities. “We urge policymakers and public officials everywhere to support instructors and students who are passionate about understanding the effects of race and racism in our society, as well as mitigating its effects on our own field.”
Read the full statement.
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.
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.
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.
Input Sought: The Need for a Specimen Management Plan Requirement
Representatives from the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) and the U.S. Culture Collection Network (USCCN), in partnership with NSC Alliance and the American Institute of Biological Sciences, held a webinar on February 7 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 was supported by the recently enacted CHIPS and Science Act. Webinar panelists discussed the elements of a specimen management plan and its benefits to various stakeholder communities.
If you missed the program, the recording is now available online, along with a record of the written Q&A during the webinar.
Additionally, the webinar organizers are soliciting feedback on the webinar and their proposal regarding implementation of the specimen management plan requirement. They would like to hear from a wide range of stakeholders in the research, collections, and policy communities. Please take this survey by March 10, 2023 to share your thoughts.
- NIH requests public comments on its Plan to Enhance Public Access to the Results of NIH-Supported Research. “Open science is a priority at NIH and across the U.S. Federal Government,” noted NIH leaders who penned a blog announcing the request for information (RFI). Last year, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released a memo on Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research that establishes new guidance for improving public access to scholarly publications and data resulting from federally supported research. The NIH Public Access Plan outlines the proposed approach NIH will take to implement the new guidance. Comments on the plan can be submitted online until April 24, 2023.
- Dr. Angela McLean, a mathematical biologist who helped build models to study the spread of COVID-19, has been appointed as the United Kingdom’s next chief scientific adviser. During the pandemic, McLean served on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and co-chaired the subgroup that guided the government’s response to COVID-19. McLean will advise Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his cabinet on science and technology policies.
- The Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO) and Geological Sciences (GEO) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) will soon require the submission of a Safe and Inclusive Work Environments Plan for any proposal that involves off-campus or off-site research. This plan will be considered as part of the Broader Impacts criteria during the grant review process. NSF held a Virtual Office Hour on the topic on February 7, the slides and recording from which are available online. A second Virtual Office Hour will take place on March 20, 2023 from 3:00-4:00 PM ET. Program Officers from BIO and GEO will provide an overview of the new requirement and answer audience questions. Register here.
- The Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) is set to convene for the first time since the panel was disbanded in 2019 after the Trump Administration slashed funding for the National Invasive Species Council. President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order in 2021 restoring several lapsed federal advisory committees, including ISAC, and the Department of the Interior issued a call for nominations for new ISAC members in January 2022. The first public meeting of the new panel will take place virtually on March 6-8, 2023.
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.