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AIBS Public Policy Report

AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 23, Issue 19, September 12, 2022

  • Gina McCarthy to Depart as White House Climate Adviser
  • New Director Appointed for NOAA Research
  • OSTP Seeks Input on Draft Standardized Disclosure Forms for Grant Applications
  • Report Finds Sexual Assault, Harassment Common in Antarctic Stations
  • Webinar Today: Current and Future Funding Opportunities at NSF
  • Enter the Faces of Biology Photo Contest
  • Short Takes
    • NSF Webinar on Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology
    • OSTP Requests Comments on Federal Evidence Agenda on LGBTQI+ Equity
    • Call for Nominations: Future Directions for Antarctic Research
    • Join NIGMS for Their Early Career Investigator Lecture
  • 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.


Gina McCarthy to Depart as White House Climate Adviser

Gina McCarthy will be stepping down as Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor, a role in which she helped launch and lead the White House Climate Policy Office.  McCarthy also chaired the President’s National Climate Task Force, and played a key role in the passage of the historic climate and clean energy legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act (H.R. 5376). 

Ali Zaidi, who served as McCarthy’s deputy, is set to take over her role.  Zaidi previously served as New York’s Deputy Secretary for Energy and Environment and worked on climate change and energy issues under President Obama.  “Under Gina McCarthy and Ali Zaidi’s leadership, my Administration has taken the most aggressive action ever, from historic legislation to bold executive actions, to confront the climate crisis head-on,” said President Biden.  

The Administration also announced that John Podesta will be returning to the White House as Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation.  Podesta previously served as a senior White House climate adviser during the Obama Administration and as Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton.  He also founded the Center for American Progress, a think tank based in Washington, DC.

Podesta will oversee implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act’s provisions and will also chair the President’s National Climate Task Force.  “His deep roots in climate and clean energy policy and his experience at senior levels of government mean we can truly hit the ground running to take advantage of the massive clean energy opportunity in front of us,” stated Biden.


New Director Appointed for NOAA Research

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo has appointed Dr. Steve Thur, a coastal scientist, as the Assistant Administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research at the National Oceanic and Administration (NOAA Research).  

In this role, Thur will direct NOAA’s office that is primarily responsible for research on weather, climate and marine ecosystems.  He will oversee a workforce of 2,280 employees and affiliates, and 10 laboratories across the country. 

Thur has worked for nearly 20 years at NOAA’s National Ocean Service, where he most recently worked as Director of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.  Previously, he served as Coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and co-Chair of the steering committee for the interagency U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.  Thur’s first role at NOAA was as an economist with NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration, where he assessed damages to natural resources after oil spills.  He will take over his new role in early October.

Thur earned his Ph.D. in marine policy from the University of Delaware’s Graduate College of Marine Studies.  He has bachelor’s degrees in biology and economics from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.


OSTP Seeks Input on Draft Standardized Disclosure Forms for Grant Applications

In an effort to strengthen research security, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has announced new standardized disclosure formats for scientists to use when they apply for federal research grants.

The National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee on Research Security (SRS) has developed draft standardized forms and instructions for disclosure of information to assess potential conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment among researchers applying for grants with federal science funding agencies.  According to the OSTP, the new forms are intended to enhance “clarity, transparency, and equity while streamlining requirements and decreasing burden to the research community.”

The new disclosure materials were drafted as part of the implementation of the National Security Presidential Memorandum-33 (NSPM-33)—a directive that established standards for research security policies across the government.  The implementation guidance for NSPM-33, issued in January 2022, directed federal research agencies to work together to develop model grant application forms and instructions that can be used, and adapted where required, by any federal research funding agency.

The following draft disclosure materials are now available for public review and comment until October 31, 2022.

  • A Biographical Sketch form, including data elements and associated instructions;
  • A Current and Pending (Other) Support form, including data elements and associated instructions; and
  • An excel spreadsheet that summarizes all the reporting requirements.

Additionally, OSTP has shared a summary table containing examples of the types of information and activities that need to be disclosed as well as when and where they need to be reported.


Report Finds Sexual Assault, Harassment Common in Antarctic Stations

A report commissioned by the National Science Foundation (NSF) has found that sexual assault and harassment are pervasive in Antarctic research facilities.

The report, which is based on stakeholder interviews, focus groups, and online surveys, found that 72 percent of the women who were surveyed, and almost half of all male respondents, said that sexual harassment was a problem in the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP).  However, only 23 percent of USAP leadership agreed that sexual assault was a problem and 40 percent agreed that sexual harassment was a problem.

Notably, 40 percent of all focus group participants discussed a personal negative experience with

sexual assault or harassment, while 80 percent of all focus group participants discussed someone else they know experiencing sexual assault or harassment.  Ninety percent of all survey respondents agreed that sexual assault and harassment “are important issues to address in the USAP community.” 

Infrastructure to prevent sexual harassment in the program is described as “nearly absent,” with prevention training being ineffective and inadequate.  “Existing infrastructure, including staffing, funding, policies, and collaboration is almost entirely focused on response rather than prevention,” the report states.

The report presents a number of testimonials from researchers and contractors to illustrate the extent of the problem. “Every woman I knew down there had an assault or harassment experience that had occurred on ice,” noted one interviewee.  “I have been told by many people…that I should never go to the South Pole without a partner because I’ll be repeatedly harassed,” said another.

In response to the concerns presented in the report, NSF said that they “see a critical need to 1) improve communication, 2) increase engagement, 3) enhance education and training, 4) strengthen reporting infrastructure and accountability, 5) provide support to victims, and 6) probe more deeply into policies and mechanisms aimed at prevention.”  NSF plans to host a series of listening sessions to gather community feedback as well as revamp their screening and training practices to leverage best practices in the field of sexual harassment prevention, response, and education.


Webinar Today: Current and Future Funding Opportunities at NSF

Join the Association of Ecosystem Research Centers (AERC) and AIBS for a webinar with program officers from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to discuss current and future funding opportunities at NSF for early career scientists. The program will include remarks from NSF panelists and a Q&A session.

NSF Panelists:

  • Matthew Kane – Ecosystems, ESIIL (Center for Advancement and Synthesis of Open Environmental Data and Sciences), Macrosystems
  • Elizabeth Blood – Ecosystems, National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)
  • Douglas Levey – Community Ecology, Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER)
  • Peter McCartney – Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI)
  • Bob O’Conner – Social, Behavior and Economic Sciences Directorate
  • Olivia Lee – Polar Programs
  • Barbara Ransom – NSF Innovation Programs
  • Thyaga Nandagopal – Technology, Innovation and Partnerships Directorate
  • Rita Teutonico – Coastal Ecosystems and People (CoPe)

Date: Monday, September 12, 2022
Time: 1:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time

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

  • Join the National Science Foundation (NSF) on Tuesday, September 20 at 3:00-4:00 PM ET for the Division on Biological Infrastructure’s (DBI) Virtual Office Hour.  Program Officers will introduce the Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) Program and discuss recent updates to the solicitation. They will also provide tips for writing a PRFB proposal.  There will be a 30-minute presentation, followed by an open Q&A session with Program Officers.  Register here.  Three other PRFB Virtual Office Hours will be hosted by the other NSF BIO Divisions on September 12, 14 and 15.
  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is soliciting public input to help inform the development of the Federal Evidence Agenda on LGBTQI+ Equity.  An Executive Order issued on June 15, 2022 required the co-chairs of the Interagency Working Group on Equitable Data to establish a subcommittee on sexual orientation, gender identity, and variations in sex characteristics (SOGI) data.  That panel, now part of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Subcommittee on Equitable Data, is tasked with the development and release of a Federal Evidence Agenda on LGBTQI+ Equity to improve the government's ability to make data-informed policy decisions that advance equity for the LGBTQI+ community.  Comments are requested by October 3, 2022.  Learn more.
  • The National Academies’ Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, in collaboration with the Polar Research Board and Ocean Studies Board, are requesting nominations until September 15, 2022 for an ad hoc committee that will provide guidance to the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs on future directions for Southern Ocean and Antarctic nearshore and coastal research.  For more information, visit the project webpage.
  • The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) is hosting their annual Judith H. Greenberg Early Career Investigator Lecture, featuring César de la Fuente, Ph.D., this month.  His talk “Artificial Intelligence Approaches for Antibiotic Discovery,” will take place on Wednesday, September 28, 2022, at 1:00 PM ET via Zoom and NIH Videocast.  Dr. de la Fuente will discuss how innovations in artificial intelligence may help to replenish our arsenal of effective drugs, such as those to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.  Following the talk, Dr. de la Fuente will answer questions about his research and career path from students and other early career scientists during a 30-minute Q&A session.  Registration is required.

From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from August 19 to September 9, 2022. 



Environmental Protection Agency

Health and Human Services

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Science Foundation

Office of Science and Technology Policy


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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