Call for Applications: 2024 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 2024 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 2024 (likely in 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 online subscription to the journal BioScience.
The 2024 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 17, 2024. Learn more about how to apply.
Congress Passes Second Stopgap Measure to Avert Shutdown
With fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations work still far from complete, Congress passed another continuing resolution last week to provide lawmakers roughly two more months to negotiate and pass the twelve spending bills needed to fund the federal government. The measure passed with bipartisan support in both chambers, with President Joe Biden signing it just ahead of the November 17 deadline.
The so-called "laddered" continuing resolution extends current funding levels for four of the 12 appropriations bills until January 19, 2024. These include the spending bills for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration; Energy and Water Development; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Congress has a little more time, until February 2, to complete the other 8 bills, which include the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS); Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS); and Interior-Environment spending bills. The first group of bills is generally considered easier to negotiate than the second. The stopgap measure also extends Farm Bill programs through September 2024.
Some Democrats and the Biden Administration initially expressed concerns about splitting the agency funding deadlines. "I do not care for this idea of two funding deadlines and double the shutdown risk," said Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA). But Murray and others later voted to approve the stopgap "to avoid a senseless shutdown."
The House has passed seven of its twelve FY 2024 spending bills containing deep spending cuts to nondefense federal programs with almost exclusively Republican support. Speaker Mike Johnson had planned to bring the remaining bills, including the CJS and Labor-HHS spending bills, to the House floor for debate prior to heading into the Thanksgiving break. An extensive list of amendments had been proposed for both those bills. However, members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus blocked floor debate of the CJS bill last Wednesday, in retaliation to the passage of the latest continuing resolution with current spending levels. They threatened to continue holding up appropriations bills unless the Speaker presents them with a plan to cut spending.
Notably, the CJS measure includes a 2.5 percent cut for the National Science Foundation; a 15 percent cut for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a 9 percent cut for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and level funding for National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The Labor-HHS bill, which includes a 6 percent cut for the National Institutes of Health, was debated on the floor, but the House adjourned until after Thanksgiving without taking further action on it. Among the slate of amendments adopted by the chamber was a controversial one from Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) that would ban federal funding for any "gain-of-function" research involving potential pandemic pathogens. The amendment would revise an enacted provision from last year that banned U.S. funding for gain-of-function research in China and other "adversary" countries such as Iran and Russia. With the revision, such work by federally-funded researchers in the U.S. could also be banned.
The House has also failed to pass their Agriculture, Financial Services-General Government, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development spending bills. Republican leadership have not said whether they will try to pass those bills again or begin negotiations with the Senate, which thus far has passed three of its FY 2024 bills.
Interior Holding Listening Sessions to Inform Environmental Justice Efforts
The Department of the Interior is holding three virtual listening sessions to gather public input on how to manage and strengthen its environmental justice (EJ) efforts. Information gathered at these listening sessions will help inform the development of the Department's Environmental Justice Strategic Plan.
The strategic plan is intended to support President Biden's Executive Order on Revitalizing Our Nation's Commitment to Environmental Justice for All, which calls on federal agencies to develop a vision, goals, priority actions, and metrics to address and advance EJ across the nation.
Last month, Interior shared a draft plan that outlines the visions, goals, and objectives for its EJ efforts. The draft plan lists several commitments, including ensuring that employees at all levels of the department are held accountable for advancing EJ; actively addressing the impacts of historical environmental and health injustices; and identifying and removing barriers that prevent communities and Tribal Nations from accessing opportunities.
The department is now requesting public input to refine its draft vision, goals, and objectives; to identify implementation strategies; and to identify priority actions to advance EJ. Two of the three listening sessions are schedule for November 30, while the third will take place on December 1. In addition, written comments may be provided via email or hard copy until December 15, 2023.
Learn more about how to participate in the listening sessions and provide written input.
House Science Committee Advances Weather Reauthorization
The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee recently marked up and advanced major legislation to improve forecasting and disaster preparedness. The Weather Act Reauthorization (H.R. 6093) aims to update the Weather Act of 2017 that sets policy for weather research and forecasting programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
A top priority of House Science Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), who also authored the 2017 law, the reauthorization bill would extend research programs at NOAA; codify new weather forecasting, modeling, and prediction tools; expand NOAA's authority to contract with the private sector to acquire commercial weather data; strengthen emergency preparedness by improving how weather events are communicated to the public; and provide tailored weather prediction tools and services for farmers, ranchers, and resource managers.
"After months of feedback from dozens of stakeholders, we've crafted a bill that builds on the successes of the Weather Act while tackling the next generation of forecasting needs," stated Lucas. "These provisions put the U.S. on a more competitive footing globally when it comes to accurate and effective forecasting."
The panel voted unanimously to advance the bill to the House floor, after adopting several amendments that would close gaps in forecasting, emergency preparedness, and communication for vulnerable communities; expand the scope of research to include weather events such as tsunamis and landslides; and better protect communities from the devastating impacts of harmful algal blooms.
NSF Request Input on Public Access Plan, National Ocean Biodiversity Strategy
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking public input from the science and engineering research and education community on implementing its Public Access Plan 2.0: Ensuring Open, Immediate, and Equitable Access to National Science Foundation Funded Research. Comments on all elements of the plan are welcome and can be submitted until January 2, 2024. Learn more.
NSF is also requesting public input, on behalf of the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST), to inform the development of a National Ocean Biodiversity Strategy, covering the genetic lineages, species, habitats, and ecosystems of U.S. ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters. The strategy aims to align research and monitoring on ocean life for safe and sustainable management, conservation, development, and climate solutions; and improve delivery of biodiversity information to support wise management and the growing ocean economy. Responses are due on February 28, 2024.
Science Coalition Urges Administration to Request Robust Funding for NSF in FY 2025
The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF)--an alliance of more than 140 professional organizations, scientific societies, universities, and businesses that advocate for the National Science Foundation (NSF)--has called on the Biden Administration to request $16.7 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in fiscal year (FY) 2025, which is the level of funding for NSF research and education investments authorized in the CHIPS and Science Act. AIBS is a member of CNSF.
The letter reads, in part: "Although NSF funding has not yet reached the funding levels authorized in the CHIPS and Science Act for FY23 and FY24, we urge the Biden-Harris Administration not to give up on the important goals set forth in this law. The U.S. scientific enterprise must have long-term sustained funding increases if we are to maintain our strategic advantage and global leadership in research, new technologies, innovation, and economic competitiveness and national security."
Read the full letter.
AIBS Joins Letter Urging Inclusion of AgARDA Reauthorization in Farm Bill
Sixty-five organizations, including AIBS, have sent a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees urging the inclusion of the bipartisan, bicameral Advancing Cutting Edge (ACE) Agriculture Act (S.834, H.R.2385) in the next Farm Bill--a legislative package passed by Congress every five years that sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy.
The ACE Ag Act would reauthorize the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority (AgARDA) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), add an additional focus on resilience and mitigation research, and grow its authorization level to more adequately reflect the mission of advanced research programs. AgARDA was established in the 2018 Farm Bill to support high-risk, high-reward research at USDA to address the most far-reaching challenges facing the food and agriculture system.
"The successes of other federal high-risk, high-reward research programs have made significant contributions to the U.S. economy, such as the Internet and Global Positioning Services, and have protected and enhanced vital components of our nation's defense and energy sectors," the letter reads. "AgARDA is an opportunity to bring this legacy of transformative innovation to USDA to secure America's food supply and give our farmers and ranchers the tools they need to meet the challenges of the 21st century."
The group behind Plan S--the open access publishing initiative launched in 2018--has released a new draft plan to accelerate the adoption of open access policies and practices in publishing. Known as cOAlition S, the international consortium of primarily European research funding organizations, is soliciting initial feedback on its new proposal until November 29. The plan pushes for all versions of an article and its associated peer-review reports to be published openly, without any delay, and without authors paying any fees. It also calls for authors, rather than publishers, to decide when and where to first publish their work. Read the proposal.
Monica Bertagnolli, a surgical oncologist, was sworn in as Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on November 9 after the Senate voted 62-36 to confirm her nomination on November 7. Eleven Republicans joined the Democrats in supporting her confirmation, which came nearly two years after Dr. Francis Collins stepped down as NIH Director. Prior to her confirmation, Dr. Bertagnolli served as Director of the National Cancer Institute, the largest of NIH's 27 institutes and centers.
- The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking qualified candidates for a Biological Science Administrator (Program Director) position for the Population and Community Ecology Cluster within the Directorate for Biological (BIO), Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) in Alexandria, VA. Applications close December 1, 2023.
According to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the scientific workforce at several federal agencies has returned to 2017 staffing levels and seen a boost in diversity between 2017 and 2022. The report also found that progress was "inconsistent across agencies and significantly more work is needed to attract and retain a diverse workforce at federal agencies."
From the Federal Register
The following items appeared in the Federal Register from November 6 to 17, 2023.
Environmental Protection Agency
Health and Human Services
Institute of Museum and Library Services
National Science Foundation