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AIBS Public Policy Report

AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 23, Issue 13, June 20, 2022

  • You’re Invited to Take a Survey on Nagoya Protocol and Genetic Data
  • Biden to Nominate New Science Adviser
  • House Begins Work on FY 2023 Appropriations
  • House Passes Bipartisan Wildlife Bill
  • New AIBS Series: Diversity Heroes
  • Meet with Your Lawmakers This Summer and Help Inform Science Policy
  • Register Now: Writing for Impact and Influence Course Starts July 13
  • Enter the Faces of Biology Photo Contest
  • Short Takes
    • USGS, ARPA–E Director Nominees Receive Committee Approval
    • Resolution Introduced to Honor E.O. Wilson, Advance Conservation
    • Last Chance to Register: SPNHC Education DemoCamp
  • 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.

 

You’re Invited to Take a Survey on Nagoya Protocol and Genetic Data

With support from the National Science Foundation and in partnership with 18 scientific societies, the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the USA Nagoya Protocol Action Group organized six virtual workshops between October and December of 2021.  The series engaged the global scientific community in discussions about the value of digital sequence information (DSI) across numerous scientific disciplines, how DSI is currently shared and used, and challenges that may emerge from explicitly including or excluding DSI under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and/or the Nagoya Protocol.

The workshop organizers want to hear from the international research community.  Please take the survey linked below to help us develop informative resources about international science policy related to the sharing of DSI for scientists, educators, and biodiversity collection managers.  The survey will remain open through July 22, 2022 and will take about 20-25 minutes to complete.  Aggregated survey information will be used to develop strategies and solutions to challenges posed by potential changes in international policy that would impact the sharing of DSI. 

 

Biden to Nominate New Science Adviser

President Biden is expected to nominate Dr. Arati Prabhakar, an applied physicist, to serve as presidential science adviser and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Prabhakar previously served as Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) from 2012 to 2017, where she launched the biotechnology office that led the early work on RNA vaccines.  After her stint at DARPA, she founded Acuate, a nonprofit, philanthropic organization focused on “solutions R&D” in areas such as climate change and public health.  Prabhakar was the first woman to head the National Institutes of Standards and Technology from 1993 to 1997.  She also spent 15 years in Silicon Valley, including as a venture capitalist.  

Dr. Prabhakar received her Doctor of Philosophy in applied physics and Master of Science in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology.  She received her Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University.

Once officially nominated, Dr. Prabhakar can take over as science adviser immediately but will require Senate confirmation—a process that can take several months—before stepping into the role of OSTP Director.  If approved by the Senate, she would become the first woman and first person of color to lead the OSTP.  She would have a key role to play in a number of science policy priorities for the Biden Administration, including sustaining U.S. global competitiveness, ensuring academic research security, and advancing equity in science.

If confirmed, Prabhakar would take over the OSTP after a tumultuous few months for the office.  Biden’s previous science adviser, Dr. Eric Lander, resigned in February after a White House investigation concluded that he had mistreated and bullied his subordinates.  After Lander stepped down, former Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins took over as interim science adviser, while Deputy Director for Science and Society for OSTP Dr. Alondra Nelson stepped in as Acting OSTP Director.  Early in his term, Biden elevated the role of science adviser to a Cabinet-level position.  However, under the temporary arrangement, neither Collins nor Nelson have received a Cabinet designation.

 

House Begins Work on FY 2023 Appropriations

Appropriators in the House have started their work on spending bills to fund the U.S. government in fiscal year (FY) 2023, despite the lack of an agreement between Democrats and Republicans on budget limits.  

After failing to negotiate a budget resolution, House Democrats adopted a $1.6 trillion discretionary spending cap for the upcoming fiscal year, largely in line with the President’s budget request, allowing appropriators to begin drafting the 12 annual spending bills.  The House Appropriations Committee released its first six FY 2023 spending bills last week.  These include the appropriations bills for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Related Agencies; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; Legislative Branch; and Defense.

The Agriculture-FDA spending bill was advanced by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture without any amendments.  It includes an overall allocation of $27.2 billion, an increase of $2 billion (or 8 percent) compared to FY 2022.  Of this total, $3.6 billion would be targeted to agricultural research programs.  The Agricultural Research Service would receive $1.8 billion (+3 percent), and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture would get $1.8 billion (+9 percent).  The bill would make targeted investments in climate resiliency and rural development programs.  It now needs approval from the full Appropriations Committee before heading to the House floor for a vote.

The remaining six appropriations bills are set to be released this week.  The spending bill for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, which includes funding for the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology is scheduled to be marked up on June 22, 2022.  The bills that fund the National Institutes of Health, the Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy will also be taken up by their respective subcommittees this week.

 

House Passes Bipartisan Wildlife Bill

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 231-190 to pass bipartisan legislation that would make significant new investments in wildlife and habitat conservation.

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 2773), sponsored by Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), has 194 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House.  The bill originally included $1.3 billion annually for state fish and wildlife agencies and an additional $97.5 million each year for tribal governments to implement their plans to conserve, restore, and protect wildlife and habitat.  The House eventually passed an amended version that would expand eligibility for funding for the first four years.  States would not initially get the full $1.3 billion in funding—a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation competitive grant program and several Fish and Wildlife Service consultation, partnership, and conservation agreement programs would share in that funding for the first four years. 

The bill lost some early Republican supporters because of its unresolved source of funding.  The House-passed version would draw funding from the U.S. Treasury, with states required to provide at least 25 percent in matching funds.  Negotiators have not been able to identify any funding offsets so far for the federal share.  As a result, only 16 Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the package, despite the bill initially having 42 GOP co-sponsors. 

Representative Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, argued that while “the goal of the bill is commendable,” the proposed mandatory spending without offsets would “only add” to the country’s debt.  He indicated that as a “reluctant opponent” he will remain at the table, adding that the “regrettably flawed bill” represents “a lost opportunity to forge significant bipartisan compromise.”

In the Senate, a slightly different companion bill (S. 2372), sponsored by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), has 35 co-sponsors.  The Senate bill, which was advanced earlier this year by the Environment and Public Works Committee, identifies the funding source as penalties and fines paid by polluters, which would at least partially offset the bill’s funding.  Although this was enough to get the bill approved in committee, it will likely not be enough to secure passage by the full Senate.  “I believe that more work will be needed to offset the cost of this bill … before it is considered on the floor,” said Senate Environment and Public Works Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

 

New AIBS Series: Diversity Heroes

AIBS has launched a new “Diversity Heroes” series, where we spotlight individuals who are working to increase Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the biological sciences.

Our first piece spotlights AIBS Board Member Dr. Steward Pickett, a Distinguished Senior Scientist at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.  Dr. Pickett’s research focuses on the ecological structure of urban areas and vegetation dynamics, with national and global applications.

 

Meet with Your Lawmakers This Summer and Help Inform Science Policy

Registration is currently open for the 2022 Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event organized by the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Now in its 13th year, this national initiative is an opportunity for biologists across the country to meet with their federal or state elected officials to showcase the people, facilities, and equipment that are required to support and conduct scientific research.  This initiative helps to put a face on science and to remind lawmakers that science is happening in their district and state.

The Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event enables scientists, graduate students, representatives of research facilities, and people affiliated with scientific collections to meet with their federal or state elected officials without traveling to Washington, DC.  Participating scientists can meet with their elected officials at the local district office, virtually, or may invite them to visit their research facility.

“We were able to share with Representative Veronica Escobar’s (D-TX) District Director what natural history collections were and how important federal funding was to museums like us. This program was a great first step to building a relationship with our local elected officials and to let them know what resources there are in the area.”

- Dr. Vicky Zhuang, Biodiversity Collections Manager, University of Texas, El Paso

AIBS will once again organize the event this summer and fall in a hybrid format, with options for both virtual as well as in-person meetings and tours where feasible.  AIBS will schedule participants’ meetings with lawmakers and will prepare participants through online training and one-on-one support.  Meetings will take place mid-July through October, depending on the participant’s schedule and their lawmaker’s availability.

This event is made possible by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, with the support of event sponsors American Society of Primatologists, American Society of Plant Taxonomists, Botanical Society of America, Helminthological Society of Washington, Natural Science Collections Alliance, Organization of Biological Field Stations, Paleontological Society, Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, and Society for the Study of Evolution.

Registration for participation is free, but required and closes on July 15, 2022.  To learn more and register, visit io.aibs.org/cdv.  

 

Register Now: Writing for Impact and Influence Course Starts July 13

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is once again offering its popular professional development program to help scientists and students hone their written communication skills to increase the power of their message.

Writing for Impact and Influence provides practical instruction and hands-on exercises that will improve the participant’s general writing proficiency. The program will provide participants with the skills and tools needed to compose scientific press releases, blog posts, memoranda, and more, with a focus on the reader experience. Each product-oriented session will have an assignment (deadlines are flexible), with feedback from the instructor. The course is interactive, and participants are encouraged to ask questions and exchange ideas with the instructor and other participants.

Learn to write for stakeholders, decision-makers, and the general public, with a focus on perfecting the reader experience.

Who Should Take the Course?

  • Individuals interested in furthering their professional development by augmenting their writing skills.
  • Graduate students and early-career professionals interested in increasing their marketability to employers.
  • Individuals interested in more effectively informing and influencing segments of the public, supervisors, policymakers, reporters, organizational leaders, and others.

The course consists of six 90-minute online modules conducted live and will begin on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, with subsequent course sessions held weekly on Wednesdays, through August 17.  Individuals who actively participate in and complete the full course will receive a certificate recognizing that they have completed a nine-hour professional development course on business writing for scientists.

Register now.

 

Enter the Faces of Biology Photo Contest

Enter the Faces of Biology Photo Contest for a chance to win $250 and to have your photo appear on the cover of the journal BioScience.

The competition recognizes scientists who use imagery to communicate aspects of biological research to the public and policymakers.  Once again, this year's competition is sponsored by the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in addition to the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS).

“Art and science are inextricably linked to effective communication,” said Scott Glisson, Chief Executive Officer of AIBS.  “This contest provides a forum for expression, inspiration, and technical skill. The creativity involved is magnificent.”

The theme of the contest is “Faces of Biology.”  Photographs entered into the competition must depict a person, such as a scientist, technician, or student, engaging in biological research.  The depicted research may occur outside, in a lab, with a natural history collection, on a computer, in a classroom, or elsewhere.

The winning photo from the 2021 contest was featured on the cover of the April 2022 issue of BioScience.

Submissions must be received by 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time on September 30, 2022.  For more information or to enter the contest, visit our website.

 

Short Takes

  • The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has voted to approve the nominations of Dr. David Applegate to lead the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Dr. Evelyn Wang to lead the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E).  The nominations will now advance to the full Senate for final approval.  Applegate, a geologist, currently serves as the Acting Director of USGS in addition to serving as its Associate Director for Natural Hazards.  Wang chairs the mechanical engineering department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) has introduced a resolution, in honor of the late biologist E.O. Wilson, expressing the need to protect 50 percent of the land and oceans in the US and encouraging diplomatic efforts to achieve this goal worldwide.  According to the resolution (H.Res.1163), there has been an average 68 percent decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish between 1970 and 2016, but 85 percent of species could be preserved by protecting half of the Earth’s land and seas.  “This legislation honors and supports one of E.O.’s last great dreams: the protection of half of the Earth’s lands and waters for the conservation of species,” stated Beyer. “The global extinction crisis makes that work all the more important, and I will continue to work with colleagues and individuals and organizations committed to protecting our environment to advance this vital cause.”
  • The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections in hosting a virtual Natural History Collection Education DemoCamp over Zoom on June 22-23, 2022.  As an event partner, AIBS invites you to join this event to share, discover, and discuss educational materials that have a framework in natural history.  General attendee registration will remain open up until the event.  If you have any questions, please contact educationdemocamp@gmail.com.
 

From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from June 6 to 17, 2022. 

Commerce

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 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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