New & Noteworthy



Archive for the 'Activities & Events' Category

17 Sep 2018

Special Request to NSC Alliance Members

The NSC Alliance has been contacted by a National Academies study committee that would like to receive additional information from taxonomists and collections curators. Please consider sharing your thoughts and recommendations to the request below. Send all information no later than Friday, September 28, 2018, to rgropp@aibs.org. NSC Alliance will compile all information and transmit it to the study committee in one package.

The committee is looking into the “taxonomic status of the red wolf and the Mexican gray wolf. The committee is interested in the views of taxonomists and museum curators on the concept of subspecies. Specifically, what criteria are most often deployed in recognizing subspecies. If the subspecies designation is no longer viewed as useful, what, if anything, has replaced it and to what extent are those designations being sustained or submerged in official taxonomic records.”

13 Sep 2018

Collections and Education – Upcoming BCoN Webinar

The Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) will convene a series of webinar programs in 2018 to share information about BCoN activities with the community and to receive community input on prior and pending BCoN programs. These webinars will include a formal presentation followed by an opportunity for participants to ask questions and share information. All programs will be recorded and posted to the BCoN website.

Five webinars have already been held. Recordings of past webinars are available here.

The next program will be on September 19 and will focus on new opportunities for education and outreach as a result of natural history collections and the mobilization of specimen and occurrence-based data.

Click here for more information regarding the webinar series and to register.

13 Sep 2018

National Fossil Day is October 17

National Fossil Day, an annual celebration organized by the National Park Service, will take place on October 17, 2018. National Fossil Day is a nationwide celebration that will include paleontology activities planned by partner organizations across the United States.

NSC Alliance has a short document about the scientific value of fossil collections.

The participation of local museums, universities, and other scientific organizations is central to National Fossil Day. Help your local community learn about local paleontological and natural resources by participating in the event.

To join as a partner for National Fossil Day, visit https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossilday/events.htm.

13 Sep 2018

New IMLS Grant for Small Museums

The Institute of Museums and Library Services has announced a new funding opportunity for small museums. Inspire! Grants for Small Museums is a special initiative of the Museums for America (MFA) program designed to motivate small museums to apply for grants to implement projects that address priorities identified in their strategic plans.

The program includes three project categories: Lifelong Learning, Community Anchors and Catalysts, and Collections Stewardship and Public Access. Under the program, grant funding of $5,000-$50,000 can be secured for a period of up to two years.

The deadline to apply for the grant is November 1, 2018. Learn more at https://www.imls.gov/grants/available/inspire-grants-small-museums.

07 Sep 2018

Nominations Sought for National Academies Panel on Biological Collections

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) Board on Life Sciences (BLS) is seeking experts to serve on a committee that will review the contributions of biological collections in research and education.

The expert panel will examine both living organisms and preserved biodiversity specimens that are supported by the National Science Foundation. The committee will study the major advances in the use of collections in the last ten years, determine the biggest challenges in maintaining collections, recommend innovative ways in which biological collections can be utilized in the future, and suggest strategies for their sustained support of research and education.

The study entitled, “Biological Collections: Their Past, Present, and Future Contributions and Options for Sustaining Them,” requires experts with backgrounds in biodiversity, marine science, ecology, environmental science, and evolutionary biology, and experience with collection curation and management.

The deadline for submitting nominations is September 21, 2018. Self-nominations are accepted.

Nominations can be submitted here.

To receive updates about the study, subscribe at https://nationalacademies.us19.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=126022b3c9b5339309157088a&id=f2f3c4827d

31 Aug 2018

NSC Alliance to Convene Collections Policy, Advocacy Meeting

The NSC Alliance Board of Directors recognizes that there are a growing number of policy issues confronting the natural science collections community. To more effectively engage in these issues and to support more coordinated community action related to matters of funding, regulation, research and training, among other issues, the NSC Alliance is convening a meeting of its membership in Washington, DC, on April 2-3, 2019. This meeting, tentatively called: Collections Policy and Advocacy, provides the forum for representatives of NSC Alliance members to gather and discuss with policymakers and each other the significant issues shaping the community, and collections-based research and stewardship. In addition to formal presentations from national policymakers, the program will include sessions designed to support information exchange and networking among NSC Alliance members. Discussion sessions will also drive the development of policy recommendations and new, coordinated strategies for engaging key audiences.

Importantly, the meeting will include more than discussions of vexing issues. NSC Alliance will facilitate meetings between its members and congressional and executive branch officials, providing a valuable opportunity to educate the individuals who must ultimately support new investments or other policy remedies.

Additional information, including registration information, about this meeting will be shared with NSC Alliance members in the next few weeks.

30 Aug 2018

Expand Your Broader Impact Skills: AIBS Communications Boot Camp for Scientists

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) will offer its Communications Training Boot Camp for Scientists this October 15-16, 2018. Students and staff affiliated with NSC Alliance member institutions are eligible to receive a significant discount off of the regular program registration rate.

The AIBS Communications Training Boot Camp for Scientists was designed to enhance the communication skills of scientists, particularly those interested in communicating with decision-makers and the news media. The program is an excellent way to develop new communication skills and identify effective methods for broadening the impact of research and education programs.

The Boot Camp is an intensive, two-day, hands-on training program.

Participants will learn:

- How to translate scientific findings for non-technical audiences
- How to tell a resonant story that informs decision-makers
- How to prepare for and participate in a news interview
- How to prepare for and engage in a meeting with a decision-maker
- How to protect your scientific reputation
- How to identify and define the audience you need to reach
- What decision-makers want to hear from a scientist
- What reporters are looking for in an interview
- How to leverage social media
- How the nation’s science policy is developed and implemented

Participants will also have the opportunity for formal and informal discussions with science policy and communications experts working in Washington, DC.

Learn more about the program and register now at https://www.aibs.org/public-policy/communications_boot_camp.html.

13 Aug 2018

Comments Requested on Proposed Revisions to Endangered Species Regulations

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have released a joint proposal to make significant revisions to regulations that implement the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and are inviting comments from the public for a period of 60 days.

ESA was enacted in 1973 with the goal of preventing plants and animals from becoming extinct. The Administration has proposed changes to the enforcement of ESA that would make it harder to provide protections for certain species.

The inter-agency proposal tightens the definition of “foreseeable future” for making crucial ESA decisions. This is in reference to the ESA requirement that USFWS or the National Marine Fisheries Service must determine whether a species is “in danger of extinction, or likely to become so within the foreseeable future” when making a listing decision. Under the new proposal, foreseeable future only extends so far as officials “can reasonably determine that the conditions posing the potential danger of extinction are probable.”

The proposal would also eliminate the “blanket 4(d)” rule, which allows the same broad protections for threatened species that are received by endangered species. This move, which would only cover future listings, would result in narrower protections, made on a case-by-case basis, for threatened species.

The Administration has also proposed removing language that guides officials to ignore economic burdens when determining how species should be protected. “We propose to remove the phrase, ‘without reference to possible economic or other impacts of such determination,’… to more closely align with the statutory language,” the proposed rule reads. “The act requires the secretary to make determinations based ‘solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data.’”

The proposal makes a key change to the designation of “critical habitats”, which are areas essential for recovery of a species. These areas are sometimes still considered “critical” when it is not occupied by the species in question. The new rules would allow USFWS and NOAA Fisheries to designate unoccupied areas “critical habitat” only when the occupied areas are inadequate for the conservation of the species or if inclusion of unoccupied areas would yield other specified advantages. This could potentially shrink critical habitat.

The proposal has raised concerns in the conservation community. Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of the Defenders of Wildlife and former Director of USFWS said, “These regulations are the heart of how the Endangered Species Act is implemented. Imperiled species depend on them for their very lives.” Clark expressed concerns that the changes “would undercut the effectiveness of the ESA and put species at risk of extinction.”

“These proposals would slam a wrecking ball into the most crucial protections for our most endangered wildlife,” said Brett Hartl, Government Affairs Director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If these regulations had been in place in the 1970s, the bald eagle and the gray whale would be extinct today.”

The proposal, published in the Federal Register on July 25, 2018, will accept comments until September 24, 2018. Comments can be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.

Links to the Federal Register notices:
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-07-25/html/2018-15811.htm
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-07-25/html/2018-15810.htm
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-07-25/html/2018-15812.htm

20 Jun 2018

NSC Alliance Members Invited to Inform Science Policy This Summer

The Natural Science Collections Alliance is pleased to announce that your organization, as an Alliance member, is eligible to participate in the 2018 Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event.

This national initiative is an opportunity for scientists across the country to meet with their federal or state elected officials to showcase the people, facilities, and equipment that are required to support and conduct scientific research.

There is a pressing need for the scientific community to engage with policymakers about the value of natural history collections in research and education. As called for in the recent report from the Biodiversity Collections Network, “The community must do a better job of communicating outcomes and benefits of digitization efforts to policymakers, administrators, other scientists, and the public.”

The Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event enables scientists, curators, museum professionals, and graduate students to meet with their elected officials without traveling to Washington, DC. Participants may either invite an elected official to tour their research facility or can meet at the lawmaker’s local office. Meetings will take place mid-July through October, depending on the participant’s schedule.

NSC Alliance members who participate will receive one-on-one support and online training to prepare them for their tour or meeting.

The event is open to all types of natural science collections, including biological, geological, and anthropological collections.

Participation is free for NSC Alliance members, but registration will close on July 19, 2018. To register, visit https://www.aibs.org/public-policy/congressional_district_visits.html.

07 May 2018

NSC Alliance Provides Testimony in Support of Federal Funding for Science Collections

The NSC Alliance provided testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees regarding funding for certain programs that curate natural history collections. The testimony addressed programs within the Department of the Interior and Smithsonian Institution.

“Scientific collections are critical infrastructure for our nation’s research enterprise. Research specimens connect us to the past, are used to solve current societal problems, and are helping to predict threats to human health, methods for ensuring food security, and the impact of future environmental changes. Sustained investments in scientific collections are in our national interest.”

NSC Alliance urged Congress to make additional investments in the National Museum of Natural History that will allow the museum to undertake critical collections care, make needed technology upgrades, and conduct cutting edge research. The testimony also requested lawmakers to support adequate funding for programs within the Department of the Interior, such as the Biological Survey Unit, that support the preservation and use of scientific collections.

Read the testimony here.

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