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AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 23, Issue 1, January 4, 2022

  • Build Back Better Legislation Stalled in Senate
  • Lawrence Tabak Takes Over as NIH Acting Director
  • IPBES Seeks Reviewers for Draft Invasive Alien Species Assessment
  • NIH’s UNITE Initiative Holding Stakeholder Listening Sessions on Diversity
  • AIBS Mourns the Loss of Scientists E.O. Wilson and Tom Lovejoy
  • Prepare Your Resume, Hone Your Interview Skills
  • Deadline Approaching: 2022 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award
  • 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.


Build Back Better Legislation Stalled in Senate

The Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376), which the Democrats are trying to pass through the reconciliation process, failed to advance in the Senate prior to the holiday break after Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that he would not support the $1.75 trillion spending package. 

A draft version of the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee's section of the bill released last month restored significant R&D funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) that was not included in the pared down version of the bill passed by the House in November.  The Senate draft includes $866 million for the DOE Office of Science, with $274 million set aside for Biological and Environmental Research.  It also includes $5 billion for national laboratory infrastructure, which was stripped from the version passed by the House.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s section of the bill, also released in mid-December, incorporates scientific provisions that are similar to the House bill.  It includes:

  • $200 million for Endangered Species Act recovery plans and $9.7 million for wildlife corridor conservation programs at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, USFWS would receive $250 million to address climate-induced weather events.
  • $100 million for the Environmental Protection Agency for air quality and climate research.
  • $65 million for the White House Council on Environmental Quality for environmental and climate data collection.
  • $50 million for the U.S. Geological Survey for grants and other financial assistance to water resources research and technology institutes, centers, and equivalent agencies.

Despite Senator Manchin’s opposition to the reconciliation bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has vowed to proceed with a procedural vote soon after Congress resumes in the new year.  “Senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the 'Build Back Better Act,' very early in the new year, so that every member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television,” said Schumer.  He also intends to continue working on the measure “until we pass a bill.”


Lawrence Tabak Takes Over as NIH Acting Director

On December 19, 2021, Dr. Francis Collins stepped down as Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  President Biden has yet to nominate a successor to Dr. Collins, who will continue to lead his research laboratory at the National Human Genome Research Institute within NIH. 

Dr. Lawrence Tabak, who has served as the Principal Deputy Director and the Deputy Ethics Counselor of NIH since August 2010, has taken over as Acting Director.  Dr. Tabak previously served as the Acting Principal Deputy Director of NIH and Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.  Prior to joining NIH, Dr. Tabak was the Senior Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Dentistry and Biochemistry & Biophysics in the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester in New York.


IPBES Seeks Reviewers for Draft Invasive Alien Species Assessment

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has launched an external review of the second order draft of the chapters and the first order draft of the summary for policymakers of the thematic assessment of invasive alien species and their control.  The review will remain open until February 15, 2022.

This second external review is addressed to governments and interested and qualified experts, including scientists, decision makers, practitioners and other knowledge holders.  To ensure the highest scientific quality and policy relevance of this assessment, the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel is seeking the wide participation from experts from all relevant disciplines and backgrounds.  Expert reviewers interested in participating will need to register.  IPBES will hold an online dialogue workshop for stakeholders, open to all experts registered as reviewers, on January 20, 2022.


NIH’s UNITE Initiative Holding Stakeholder Listening Sessions on Diversity

The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) diversity initiative, UNITE, is organizing a series of listening sessions inviting multisector stakeholders for discussions on racial equity, diversity, and inclusion in the biomedical research workforce.  UNITE was established to identify and address structural racism within NIH-supported entities and the greater scientific community.

According to the notice, these sessions are intended to “foster an environment where participants feel safe to contribute their unique perspectives candidly, as opposed to an effort to seek group or consensus advice.”  Topics of interest for the listening sessions include:

  • Changing culture to promote equity, inclusivity, and justice
  • Improving policies, transparency, and oversight
  • Strengthening career pathways, training, mentoring, and the professoriate
  • Ensuring fairness in review and funding deliberations
  • Enhancing funding and research support for diverse institutions and historically under-resourced research areas
  • Structural racism in the biomedical research enterprise

Sessions started in early December and will continue through February 1, 2022.  Learn more.


AIBS Mourns the Loss of Scientists E.O. Wilson and Tom Lovejoy

The American Institute of Biological Sciences mourns the loss of visionary ecologist Thomas E. Lovejoy III and pioneering naturalist E.O. Wilson.

Dr. Lovejoy was the AIBS President in 1994. In 2012, he received the AIBS Outstanding Service Award, an award given annually in recognition of individuals’ and organizations’ noteworthy service to the biological sciences.  In 2021, he joined us for an episode of our podcast BioScience Talks oral history series, In Their Own Words.  He died on December 25, 2021 in McLean, Virginia.  He was 80.

Dr. Wilson was often referred to as “Darwin’s natural heir.”  In 1976, he received the AIBS Distinguished Scientist Award, which was presented annually to individuals who have made significant scientific contributions to the biological sciences, advancing research in any of the biological disciplines.  He died on December 26, 2021 in Burlington, Massachusetts.  He was 92.


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


Deadline Approaching: 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.


From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from December 20 to 31, 2021. 




Environmental Protection Agency

Health and Human Services

Institute of Museum and Library Services

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 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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