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AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 22, Issue 23, November 8, 2021

  • International Workshop Series: How Does Sharing Genetic Sequence Data Impact Biodiversity Science and Conservation?
  • Science Funding Shrinks in Pared Down Build Back Better Legislation
  • NSB Report: International Scientific Collaborations Continue to Grow
  • NOAA Solicits Input on Conservation Goals
  • NSF BIO Announces New Broadening Participation Programs
  • Prepare Your Resume, Hone Your Interview Skills
  • Short Takes
    • OSTP Hires Climate, Biodiversity Experts
    • NASEM Seeking Experts for Environmental Studies and Toxicology Board
    • NSF to Host Webinar on Organismal Response to Climate Change Program
    • USFWS Seeks Input on Proposed Changes to Mexican Wolf Management Rule
  • From the Federal Register
 

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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.

 

International Workshop Series: How Does Sharing Genetic Sequence Data Impact Biodiversity Science and Conservation?

With support from the National Science Foundation, the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the USA Nagoya Protocol Action Group are organizing an online workshop series to explore how the international scientific community can study biodiversity in the changing landscape of international policy.  Registration is currently open for the sessions on November 10, 15, and 18. Recordings from the first two workshops are now available here.

Enabling Large-Scale Ecological Research with Open Genetic Data

Date: November 10, 2021
Time: 12:00 - 2:00 PM EST or 5:00 - 7:00 PM UTC (This program will be recorded)
Location: Online via Zoom
Hosted by: American Society for Microbiology & Ecological Society of America

Macrosystems Biology and Long-Term Ecological Research integrates the specimens and data collected at individual sites to allow a robust understanding of the structure and functions of ecosystems over extended spatial and temporal scales. Join us for this workshop to recognize both the value and challenges of integrating open genetic sequence data with this long-term ecological research to unlock opportunities for predictive modeling of habitats and ecosystems.

Learn more and register.

More than Potatoes: Collaboration for Collecting and Building the Tree of Life

Date: November 15, 2021
Time: 9:00 - 11:00 AM EST or 2:00 - 4:00 PM UTC (This program will be recorded)
Location: Online via Zoom
Hosted by: American Society of Plant Taxonomists & Botanical Society of America

Leandro and Sandy have collaborated for over a decade to understand the evolution and diversity of the nightshade family (Solanaceae). Join them in a conversation about what it takes to make collections and phylogenetic studies have the greatest societal impacts.

Learn more and register.

International Genomic Research Coordination to Preserve Big Cats

Date: November 18, 2021
Time: 9:00 - 11:00 AM EST or 2:00 - 4:00 PM UTC (This program will be recorded)
Location: Online via Zoom
Hosted by: American Genetic Association

Drs. Ryder, Luo, and colleagues have collaborated on projects to understand the evolution and genetic diversity in feline species around the world. Join us in a discussion on their efforts from frozen zoos to genebanks and international coordination activism to conserve tigers, panthers, and other megafauna.

Learn more and register.

 

Science Funding Shrinks in Pared Down Build Back Better Legislation

After prolonged negotiations, Democratic lawmakers in Congress and President Biden have released a $1.75 trillion spending plan based on the Administration’s “Build Back Better” agenda, which is primarily focused on social welfare and climate change programs.

The new framework is a trimmed down version of the $3.5 trillion partisan spending package the House developed back in September with the goal of passing it through the budget reconciliation process.  The new version still includes $550 billion to promote renewable energy and address climate change, but funding for several research agencies and programs has been significantly scaled down or removed and spending time frames shortened.  

Highlights of science related funding and changes in the new bill include:

  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) is now slated to receive $3.5 billion over 5 to 6 years instead of the $11 billion over 10 years initially allocated to the science agency.  Of the $3.5 billion, $1.52 billion would go to a new technology directorate, which was not specifically mentioned in the previous bill.  Core research activities would receive $1.2 billion, with $500 billion set aside for climate change research.  Research infrastructure projects would receive an overall funding of $500, with $200 million directed to midsize facilities and major research instrumentation.  NSF would now receive $300 million, down from $1 billion, to build research capacity and modernize infrastructure at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).  The bill also includes $25 million “to ensure broad demographic participation” in all NSF programs.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would receive $75 million to expand research capacity at MSIs and $10 million for research on developmental delays in children.
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science would get $985 million, down from $12.8 billion, with $885 million set aside for a wide array of nuclear fusion energy projects.  The remaining $100 million would fund low-dose radiation research.  The bill no longer includes funding to support research infrastructure improvements at the national labs managed by the Office of Science.
  • The National Institutes of Standards and Technology would receive $1.2 billion, down from $4.2 billion, with $650 million dedicated to infrastructure upgrades and $220 million directed to advanced manufacturing research and development.
  • The National Institute of Food and Agriculture would receive $1.7 billion, down from $6.3 billion, with $210 million targeted to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would receive $759 million, down from $4.3 billion, for weather and climate forecasting research, competitive research grants, climate education, and computing and forecasting infrastructure.  Over the next five years, NOAA would also receive an additional $6 billion to help coastal communities adapt to climate change and $1 billion for pacific salmon restoration.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey would receive $150 million, including $50 million each for climate adaptation science centers, a 3D elevation mapping program, and water resources research and technology institutes.
  • Total funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is down from $4 billion to $1.1 billion, with $750 million dedicated to infrastructure improvements and $365 million set aside for climate research.

The Build Back Better spending package could undergo further alterations as it moves through Congress.  A group of moderate Democrats have held up its passage in the House until the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) completes its economic analysis of the bill’s long term impacts on the budget deficit.  The timeline for the release of the CBO analysis is currently unsolidified but President Biden has urged the House to pass the bill during the week of November 15. 

Meanwhile the House approved a separate $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package last Friday that the Senate approved back in August.  The legislation, which contains billions for climate resilience and public transit, now awaits the President’s signature.

 

NSB Report: International Scientific Collaborations Continue to Grow

A new report published by the National Science Board (NSB)—the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF)—suggests that internationally collaborative research continues to grow, with nearly one in four articles having coauthors from multiple countries.

The Publications Output: U.S. Trends and International Comparisons report is among the 10 reports that make up the 2022 Science and Engineering Indicators, a congressionally mandated report on the state of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise.  According to the report, the United States remains a “highly influential nation” in science and engineering research as measured by the volume of conference papers and peer-reviewed journal articles and the citations to those publications.  The report reveals a wide variance in publication rates across different demographic groups in the U.S., with women and people in underrepresented groups being much less likely to publish papers before receiving a doctorate than their white, male counterparts. 

Although the rate of scientific papers coming out of the U.S. has grown steadily over time, the publication rates of other countries are growing rapidly.  China continues to publish more scientific papers than any other country in the world.  In 2020, China produced the most (23 percent) science and engineering publications with the U.S. producing the second most at 16 percent.  European Union countries, taken together, produced 24 percent of the world’s research publications.

The report suggests that U.S. researchers have increased international collaboration over the last 15 years.  “Collaborating with researchers internationally is an essential part of how we advance science, attract talent from around the world, and avoid being technologically surprised,” said Alan Stern, NSB member and Associate Vice President of the Southwest Research Institute. Notably, authors based in Chinese institutions are the most frequent coauthors with authors based in U.S. institutions.  “These numbers show that China is both a chief collaborator and a competitor with the United States,” said Stern.  “Policymakers should be cognizant of this information as we work to balance scientific collaboration with safeguarding research that could impact U.S. national security and economic competitiveness.”

 

NOAA Solicits Input on Conservation Goals

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be hosting public listening sessions on November 8 and November 16 to gather public input on its role in achieving the Biden Administration's conservation goals outlined in the Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful report.

“NOAA is taking the President's inclusive, voluntary and locally led conservation goals to the next level,” stated NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad.  “For five decades, NOAA has connected people to places by conserving and restoring special marine, coastal, and Great Lakes areas for the benefit of all Americans.”

President Biden's America the Beautiful plan, which was rolled out earlier this year, calls for conserving 30 percent of the nation's lands and waters by 2030 with the goal of addressing climate change, preserving biodiversity, and improving access to nature for underserved communities.  The program will be coordinated by the Department of the Interior along with the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

In an effort to address three “threats”—disappearance of nature, climate change, and inequitable access to the outdoors—NOAA is seeking public comment on how it can use its “existing authorities and associated measures” to “conserve and restore America's ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes.”  In addition to the public hearings, NOAA is inviting written comments that can be submitted online on or before December 28, 2021.  Learn more.

 

NSF BIO Announces New Broadening Participation Programs

The Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced new programs aimed at broadening participation in the biological sciences and STEM broadly.

“Our hope is that these programs, along with those in other Directorates and NSF-wide efforts, will diversify the STEM workforce by attracting, retaining, and supporting diverse students and faculty in STEM, leading to lasting cultural change,” stated NSF Assistant Director for Biological Sciences Joanne Tornow.

The newly announced programs include:

  • Building Research Capacity of New Faculty in Biology (BRC-BIO), focused on enhancing research capacity and broadening participation of new biology faculty at minority-serving institutions (MSIs), predominantly undergraduate institutions (PUIs), and other universities and colleges that are “not among the nation’s most research-intensive institutions.”  Proposal submission windows available for this program are January 3-31, 2022 and June 1-30, 2022.
  • Research and Mentoring for Postbaccalaureates in Biological Sciences (RaMP), which will support establishment of networks to support full-time research, mentoring, and training for recent college graduates who have had few or no research or training opportunities during college in research fields typically supported by BIO.  Deadline to submit full proposals for this program is January 20, 2022.

Program Directors from across BIO will hold a Virtual Office Hour on November 18 at 1:00 pm ET to share details about these new programs focused on broadening participation.  Register here to attend the information session.

 

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.  

 

Short Takes

  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) recently hired five individuals with expertise in climate change and biodiversity to work on policies to “reduce carbon pollution, conserve nature and enhance the resilience of communities and economies.”  The new hires, who will join OSTP’s Climate and Environment Division, include: Dr. Patrick Gonzalez, a forest ecologist and climate change scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who will serve as the assistant director for climate and biodiversity; Dr. Heather Tallis, a conservation and biodiversity expert at UC Berkeley, who will serve as assistant director for biodiversity and conservation science; Kate Dargan Marquis, a national fire service leader and technology entrepreneur, who will be the assistant director for disaster preparedness and response; Dr. Ann Marie Carlton, a fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, will serve as an atmospheric chemist and air quality expert; and Haley Case-Scott, a grassroots organizer who has worked to implement equity into climate policy, will work as a junior policy adviser.
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) are inviting nominations of experts for membership to the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST).  NASEM is encouraging nominations of individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, women, and early- and mid-career professionals.  Deadline to submit nominations is November 26, 2021.
  • The Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) is hosting an informational webinar on November 16, 2021 at 2:00 PM EST about the Organismal Response to Climate Change (ORCC) program, which recently released a new solicitation.  Following a brief presentation, program directors will be available to answer questions from participants.  The ORCC program calls for proposals focused on understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of organismal response to climate change to improve our ability to predict and to mitigate maladaptive biological responses to rapidly changing environments and to facilitate organismal adaptation and persistence.  The deadline to submit full proposals is March 1, 2022.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is seeking public comments on proposed changes to the management regulations under the Endangered Species Act for Mexican wolves in the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area in Arizona and New Mexico.  The proposed changes include removing the current population cap and establishing a new “genetic objective.”  USFWS will also hold a series of virtual public hearings and information sessions on the proposed changes.  Public comments will be accepted until January 27, 2022.
 

From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from October 25 to November 5, 2021. 

Commerce

Environmental Protection Agency

Health and Human Services

Interior

National Science Foundation

State

 

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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