Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser

AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 23, Issue 6, March 14, 2022

  • AIBS Urges Support for Ukrainian Students, Researchers
  • AIBS Provides Testimony in Support of FY 2023 Funding for Smithsonian Institution, USGS, USFWS, and EPA
  • Congress Finalizes FY 2022 Appropriations, Boosts Science Funding
  • DOJ Renames, Revamps Initiative to Address Research Security
  • EPA Overhauls Review Process for Science Advisers
  • Register Now: AIBS Enabling Interdisciplinary and Team Science Workshop
  • Prepare Your Resume, Hone Your Interview Skills
  • Short Takes
    • Biden Announces Nominee to Lead USGS
    • OSTP Requests Comments on Scientific Integrity Framework
  • 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 Urges Support for Ukrainian Students, Researchers

AIBS has joined a coalition of scientific societies and organizations in condemning the invasion of Ukraine and urging policymakers to take quick action to support Ukrainian scientists.

“The scientific community of Ukraine is vibrant and contributes to the global advancement of knowledge and the progress of humanity,” note the groups. “Ukrainian scientists, engineers, students, educators and their families are experiencing a violent occupation of their nation. Their lives are endangered, and a humanitarian crisis with long-lasting effects is unfolding.”

The letter urges timely Executive and Congressional action on immigration rules and research programs to aid Ukrainian students and researchers and their families in fleeing the country and establishing themselves elsewhere. It lays out a number of specific steps that the Administration and Congress can take to support Ukraine’s research community.

Read the letter.

 

AIBS Provides Testimony in Support of FY 2023 Funding for Smithsonian Institution, USGS, USFWS, and EPA

AIBS has provided testimony to the House Appropriations Committee regarding fiscal year (FY) 2023 funding for biological research programs within the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“We encourage Congress to provide additional funding to the Smithsonian Institution in FY 2023, including at least $60 million to the National Museum of Natural History with new funding to support scientific and curatorial work,” reads the testimony.  “We urge Congress to provide the USGS with $1.85 billion in FY 2023, with at least $360 million for its Ecosystems Mission Area. We further request that Science Support within USFWS be provided at least $36 million in FY 2023. Lastly, we request that Congress provide EPA Science and Technology with at least $850 million in FY 2023.”

AIBS urged Congress to make significant new investments in research and sustain its bipartisan support for science.  Read the full testimony.

 

Congress Finalizes FY 2022 Appropriations, Boosts Science Funding

The U.S. Congress has now passed a much-awaited omnibus spending package that provides fiscal year (FY) 2022 funding for the U.S. government. 

Nearly 6 months overdue, the $1.5 trillion legislative package (H.R. 2471) combines all twelve FY 2022 appropriations bills and includes $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.  Overall, defense spending will increase by $42 billion or 5.6 percent to $782 billion and nondefense spending—the source for most scientific research programs—would increase by $46 billion or 6.7 percent to $730 billion. 

The government had been operating under a series of stopgap funding resolutions since FY 2022 began on October 1, 2021.  The finalized appropriations package ensures predictable funding for federal research agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for the remainder of the year.  However, the final bill provides smaller increases for science programs than were previously anticipated.

NSF will receive $8.8 billion in FY 2022, a mere 4 percent increase in budget compared to FY 2021.  President Biden had requested a nearly 20 percent boost in funding for NSF, while proposals being considered by Congress last year had included a 12 or 13 percent increase for the science agency.  The Research and Related Activities account within NSF will be funded at $7.2 billion (+3.6 percent) in FY 2022.  Although a joint statement accompanying the bill supports the creation of a new technology directorate within NSF’s research account, the bill does not specify any funding for it.  

Other major science provisions in the omnibus include:

  • $5.9 billion (+8 percent) for NOAA, with $200 million (+$18 million) directed to climate research.
  • $24 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a 3 percent increase compared to FY 2021, with $7.6 billion (+4 percent) for its Science account. President Biden had proposed a 6 percent increase for the space agency.
  • $1.23 billion for the National Institute of Science and Technology, a 19 percent boost compared to FY 2021.  The President had requested a 45 percent boost for NIST.
  • $45 billion to NIH, an increase of nearly 5 percent over FY 2021.  The White House had requested a 20 percent budget increase for the biomedical research agency.
  • $1 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services to establish the new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health or ARPA-H “to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs for diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer.”  This level is only a fraction of the $6.5 billion that was requested by the Administration.
  • $7.5 billion (+6 percent) for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science and $450 million (+5 percent) for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.  Biological and environmental research at DOE saw an increase of 8 percent to $815 million.
  • $14.1 billion (+$776 million) for the Department of the Interior in FY 2022, with $1.4 billion (+8 percent) directed to the Bureau of Land Management; $3.3 billion (+5 percent) to the National Park Service; and $1.65 billion (+4 percent) to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • $1.39 billion (+6 percent) to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), with $278 million (+7 percent) for its Ecosystems Mission Area.  The Administration had proposed augmenting USGS’s budget by 25 percent.
  • $9.56 billion (+3.5 percent) for the Environmental Protection Agency, with $750 million (+3 percent) for its Science and Technology account.  President Biden had proposed to expand the regulatory agency’s budget by 22 percent.
  • $1.06 billion (+3 percent) to the Smithsonian Institution, with $53.4 million (+4 percent) for the National Museum of Natural History.
  • $3.5 billion (+$217 million) for agricultural research, including $1.64 billion (+4 percent) for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, $1.76 billion (+15 percent) for the Agricultural Research Service, $445 million (+$10 million) for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Notably, funding for NSF and DOE in the FY 2022 spending package falls significantly short of the authorization levels being considered by lawmakers as part of broad science and innovation legislation (S. 1260, H.R. 4521) to enhance U.S. competitiveness with China.  Lawmakers are currently working to reconcile the House and Senate authorization proposals and hope to negotiate a final bill by this spring.    

President Biden is expected to sign the omnibus into law this week.  Since the last continuing resolution expired on March 11, 2022, another stopgap funding measure has been enacted to keep the federal government funded through March 15, until the FY 2022 spending package is ready for the President’s signature.

 

DOJ Renames, Revamps Initiative to Address Research Security

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided to rename and refocus its controversial “China Initiative,” a law enforcement program aimed at protecting U.S. funded research and technology from theft and espionage by the Chinese government.  

Since its inception in 2018, the program has resulted in criminal charges against roughly two dozen academic researchers, frequently for not appropriately disclosing their financial ties to Chinese institutions.  The program has been accused by scientists and civil rights groups of racial profiling against researchers of Chinese descent and improperly subjecting researchers who made minor administrative errors to criminal prosecution.  

On February 23, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen announced that the initiative will now be called the “Strategy for Countering Nation-State Threats” and its scope will be broadened to include other countries of concern.  The new name, according to Olsen, recognizes that the biggest threat to U.S. national security comes from hostile governments such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, and not from individuals or groups of a particular race, ethnicity, or national origin.  Although he remains focused on the “evolving, significant threat that the government of China poses,” he has concluded that the China Initiative is “not the right approach.”  

Olsen also said that the National Security Division at DOJ will now take an “active supervisory role” in the investigations and prosecutions of cases focused on breaches of academic research security and will consider “whether criminal prosecution is warranted or whether civil or administrative remedies are more appropriate.”  He argues that these changes respond to concerns from the academic community that the DOJ’s pursuit of certain research grant fraud cases have led to “a chilling atmosphere for scientists and scholars that damages the scientific enterprise in this country.”

The changes have been welcomed by scientists and advocacy groups.  “We commend the Justice Department’s recognition that the ‘China Initiative’ was not the right approach, and the effect it had on the Asian American community,” said John C. Yang, President of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.  “This is an important step towards ending the cyclical and historic racial profiling of Asian Americans and immigrants,” he added.  Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus also praised the move, as did House Science Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).  “The China Initiative has been a harmful distraction that has stoked hostility against and suspicion of Asian American and Asian immigrant scientists and scholars,” argued Johnson, adding that she was pleased with DOJ’s decision to “move forward with a broader, risk-based approach to countering foreign malign influence in the U.S. research enterprise.”

 

EPA Overhauls Review Process for Science Advisers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 28 that the agency will be implementing a new process by which its Science Advisory Board (SAB) will be engaged in evaluating the science that informs the agency’s policy decisions.

“Everything we do as an agency must adhere to the highest standards of scientific integrity, and today’s action is a major step towards stronger, independently reviewed science,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.  The new ‘Science Supporting EPA Decisions’ process prioritizes early engagement with the expertise of the SAB to “restore opportunities for peer review and strengthen the independence of the board.”

The new process aims to reinforce peer review at EPA by providing the SAB structured opportunities to conduct review of critical scientific and technical actions developed by the agency and by ensuring that peer reviewed science is considered early in the rule-making process.

The new policy replaces controversial changes implemented under the Trump Administration in 2020, when Andrew Wheeler, the EPA Administrator at the time, gave the SAB chair the power to decide which proposed EPA rules warranted review, with the option to consult other SAB members as needed.  The new framework gives this responsibility to a “work group”—a subcommittee of SAB members led by the chair.  The work group will be charged to “examine, screen, and identify potential actions proposed by the EPA that may warrant SAB review” and take their recommendations to the full SAB for consideration.

 

Register Now: AIBS Enabling Interdisciplinary and Team Science Workshop

Team science is increasingly common in the 21st century to develop convergent solutions to complex problems. Collaboration is no longer limited to sharing ideas with the biologist in the lab next door. The questions confronting science often require teams that may include a mix of computer and information scientists, physical and social scientists, mathematicians, ethicists, policy and management experts, as well as community stakeholders and citizen scientists.

There is a real and present need to better prepare scientists for success in this new collaborative environment.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences has responded to this call with an intensive, two-day, interactive professional development course developed by scientists and other experts to provide participants with the knowledge and skills required to become productive and effective members of scientific teams.

Nothing teaches collaboration like practicing collaboration. This is not a course that asks you to learn in isolation. It is a microcosm of scientific collaboration, with extensive hands-on learning as part of a scientific team, with scientific case studies and examples.

The Enabling Interdisciplinary and Team Science course is designed for anyone involved in collaborative scientific endeavors.  Team leaders will find the course especially helpful. Because participants will work on “real-world” team science concerns, we encourage multiple members of a team to attend together.  We can also customize the course and bring it to your university, department, lab, or research team.  This course provides the right foundation from which your team can successfully accomplish your goals.

Registration is now open for our next virtual course scheduled for June 6-7, 2022.  Learn more and register.

 

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.

 

Short Takes

  • The White House has nominated David Applegate to serve as the next Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).  Applegate has been temporarily leading the USGS in addition to serving as its Associate Director for Natural Hazards.  He joined the USGS in 2004 and has served as Associate Director since 2011.  Applegate previously worked for the American Geological Institute and as a professional staff member for the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  Applegate is an adjunct full professor at the University of Utah and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  He has an undergraduate degree in geology from Yale University and a doctorate in geology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is requesting public comments to assist in the development a framework for “regular assessment and iterative improvement” of agency scientific integrity policies and practices.  This effort builds on the interagency Scientific Integrity Task Force's January 2022 report, Protecting the Integrity of Government Science, that reviewed existing federal scientific integrity policies and practices.  Comments can be submitted electronically to ScientificIntegrityRFI@ostp.eop.gov on or before 5:00 p.m. ET on April 4, 2022.
 

From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from February 28 to March 11, 2022. 

Commerce

Energy

Environmental Protection Agency

Executive Office of the President

Health and Human Services

Interior

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.

Unsubscribe or Manage Your Preferences