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AIBS Public Policy Report

AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 23, Issue 24, November 21, 2022

  • Lawmakers Return to Lame Duck Session
  • Public Comments Sought: Draft 5th National Climate Assessment
  • DOE Requests Input on Accelerating Innovations in Emerging Technologies
  • Write to Your Lawmakers About Completing FY 2023 Appropriations with Robust Increases for Science
  • Call for Applications: 2023 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award
  • Short Takes
    • NSF Virtual Office Hours to Discuss Programs on Biological Collections, Field Stations
    • NASEM Webinar on the New Field of Imageomics
    • Nominations Sought: Exploring Linkages Between Soil and Human Health
  • From the Federal Register

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Lawmakers Return to Lame Duck Session

Following the mid-term elections, lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill last week looking to wrap up their legislative agenda in what is referred to as a ‘lame duck’ session – the short period after an election and before a new Congress with new membership takes over.

The final results are still trickling in from the mid-term elections—where all seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and one-third of Senate seats were up for re-election.  But it is now clear that Republicans will take over the House and Democrats will retain control of the Senate when the new Congress convenes in January. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is expected to keep his leadership role in the next Congress.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will also retain his position after winning in a secret-ballot leadership election against Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), his first challenger in 15 years.  In the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) won the GOP nomination for Speaker with a closed-door vote of 188-31, but it is not certain that he has enough support from Republicans to secure the 218 votes needed to win the top seat in January.  Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) is poised to become the House Minority Leader, after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she will be stepping down from her party leadership post.  If elected by House Democrats Jeffries would become the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress.

Among the top priorities on the agenda for the lame duck session is completing work on fiscal year 2023 appropriations.  The government is currently operating on a stopgap funding measure that expires on December 16.  It is currently unclear if the Democrats and Republicans can reach a funding deal in time or if negotiations will be pushed into the new calendar year.  Other legislative to-dos include raising the debt limit, a same-sex marriage bill, and the annual defense policy bill.  Since Democrats have retained control of the Senate, there is now less urgency to push ahead with confirmations in the coming weeks. 


Public Comments Sought: Draft 5th National Climate Assessment

On November 7, 2022 the Administration released a draft of the Fifth National Climate Assessment for public comment.  The National Climate Assessment is a congressionally mandated report that is prepared every four years by scientists from 13 federal agencies.  The report, led by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), assesses the science of climate change, its impacts, and approaches for reducing present and future risk. 

The fourth installment, which was published in 2018, concluded that “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.”

The latest iteration finds that the global average temperatures over the past decade were about 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than the preindustrial era.  Notably, over the past half-century, the United States has warmed “68 percent faster than the planet as a whole.”  Since 1970, the continental United States has experienced 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit of warming, which is about  two-thirds faster than the average for the planet.

Rising land and water temperatures are also shrinking wildlife habitats, the draft report finds.  This could have dire consequences for biodiversity.  “Without emissions reductions, drastic changes to ecosystems are expected to pass a tipping point by mid- to late century, where rapid shifts in environmental conditions lead to irreversible ecological transformations,” the authors argue.

Despite the grim outlook, the draft report suggests that immediate action could still mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.  In addition to significant reductions in emissions, it calls for systemic, long-term, and transformational changes “to create a healthier, more just, and more resilient nation.”

The fifth assessment will likely be finalized in 2023 after a period of public comment and peer review. 

To review the draft assessment and submit comments, reviewers will need to register with the USGCRP Review and Comment System.  Comments will be accepted until January 27, 2023.  USGCRP is also hosting two informational webinars about the report on November 29 at 12:00-1:00 PM ET and December 1, 2022 at 5:00-6:00 PM ET.  More information is available here.


DOE Requests Input on Accelerating Innovations in Emerging Technologies

The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science is inviting public input to develop approaches for accelerating innovations in ten key emerging technology areas: artificial intelligence, microelectronics, quantum information science, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, biopreparedness, advanced communications technology, data management and cybersecurity, advanced energy technologies, and advanced materials science.

Input is sought to develop strategies to drive scientific discovery for sustainable production of new technologies; train a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce “to support 21st century industries”; and meet the country’s needs for clean energy, environmental sustainability, and national security.

Specifically, the Office of Science requests input on research approaches that have “the potential to push the discovery and creation of innovations towards the production/commercialization of future technologies that will have important public and commercial impact.”  The Office is particularly interested in approaches that are “trans-disciplinary” and “place-based” and “draw on regional resources and expertise to support the innovation process.”

Comments must be submitted by December 23, 2022.  Learn more.


Write to Your Lawmakers About Completing FY 2023 Appropriations with Robust Increases for Science

Congress has yet to pass legislation providing fiscal year (FY) 2023 funding for science.  Government agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health, have been operating under FY 2022 funding levels since FY 2023 began on October 1, 2022.  This stopgap approach expires on December 16 and stifles the government’s ability to initiate new programs.

It is important that members of Congress hear from scientists.  Please show your support for science by asking your members of Congress to complete work on FY 2023 appropriations bills and fund NSF as close as possible to the authorized level of $11.9 billion in FY 2023.  Interested individuals can send a letter to their members of Congress from the AIBS Legislative Action Center.


Call for Applications: 2023 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 2023 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 2023 (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, 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 2023 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 are not eligible for the award. 

Applications are due by 05:00 PM Eastern Time on January 18, 2023. Learn more about how to apply.


Short Takes

  • Join the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) within the Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at 3:00 – 4:00 PM ET for their monthly Virtual Office Hour.  Program Officers will introduce the Research Capacity Programs at NSF-BIO, including those focused on biological collections and biological field stations and marine laboratories.  This is an opportunity to raise questions and communicate directly with program officers.  Register in advance.
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable will convene a webinar, Imageomics – A New Field of Science at the Crossroads of Biology and Machine Learning, on December 7, 2022 at 1:00 PM ET.  The goal of Imageomics is to extract information about biology directly from the images.  This field aims to leverage the power of artificial intelligence to analyze patterns and interesting information like the appearance, behavior, and location of species.  Tanya Berger-Wolf, Director of the Translational Data Analytics Institute at the Ohio State University, will provide an overview of Imageomics, including current challenges in this new discipline.
  • NASEM seeks experts for an ad hoc committee to review the state of knowledge on linkages between soil health and human health, including soil microbiomes.  The committee's report will describe key findings and knowledge gaps, identify promising research directions, and offer recommendations for enhancing the human health benefits of the soil microbiome.  Nominations are requested by December 7, 2022 for individuals with expertise in areas and disciplines such as agronomy, food science, medical microbiology, nutrition, plant pathology, soil science, and toxicology. 

From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from November 7 to 18, 2022. 




Health and Human Services

Institute of Museum and Library Services



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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