New & Noteworthy



Archive for the 'Correspondence' Category

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.

26 Apr 2018

NSC Alliance Urges Congress to Support Federal Funding for NSF

The Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) provided testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, highlighting the importance and role of natural history collections.

“Natural science collections advance research that improves public health, agriculture, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and American innovation. Current research involving natural science collections also contributes to the development of new cyberinfrastructure, data visualization tools, and improved data management.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a key federal supporter of scientific collections. NSF supports research that uses existing collections as well as studies that gather new natural history specimens. NSF’s Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO) and Geosciences (GEO) support research and student training opportunities in natural history collections. NSF also supports biological research infrastructure, such as natural history museums, living stock collections, and field stations.

The testimony called for $8.45 billion for NSF in fiscal year 2019.

Read the NSC Alliance testimony.

05 Mar 2018

NSC Alliance Requests Senate Appropriators to Restore Biodiversity Research Programs at USGS

The President of the National Science Collections Alliance sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Appropriations asking the lawmakers to reject the proposed termination of the Biological Survey Unit and restore other on-going research initiatives at the U. S. Geological Survey.

Read the letter here.

22 Dec 2017

2017 Year in Review

In 2017, the NSC Alliance engaged in a number of notable activities to raise the profile of natural history collections with policymakers, researchers, and the general public. A few highlights are presented below:

  • Helped secure a 3 percent funding increase for the Smithsonian Institution in fiscal year 2017 and prevented large cuts to the budgets for the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies that support natural history collections.
  • Worked with other museum supporting organizations and museums to defeat a Trump Administration proposal to eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
  • Intervened when the University of Louisiana Monroe planned to dispose of its natural history collections. NSC Alliance’s involvement helped garner media attention and encouraged the university to facilitate transfer of the collection to other organizations.
  • NSC Alliance President Joseph Cook and Board member Scott Edwards organized the inaugural PFRB Symposium for 40 postdocs. The symposium highlighted new research uses of collections and provided an overview of opportunities in collections-based employment. The symposium was followed by a smaller BCoN workshop aimed at identifying new directions and opportunities for museums in the near future.

Read the full summary.

31 Oct 2017

BCoN Requests Community Input

The natural history collections community is invited to provide input on a draft report about community progress toward the goals and objectives outlined in the Strategic and Implementation Plans for NIBA. The report is the outcome of a two-day stakeholder workshop held in Washington, DC in January 2017 by the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN).

Since the community’s Strategic Plan for a Network Integrated Biocollections Alliance (NIBA) was first published, significant progress has been made toward the goals it articulated. However, as with any effort of significance, it is wise to periodically assess progress.

Although the participants in the workshop and the BCoN Advisory Committee have endeavored to capture an accurate assessment of progress toward NIBA, we have almost certainly missed some significant developments. Thus, we invite you to review this document and share your thoughts and suggestions with us. We also ask that your share this request with colleagues.

We invite comments on the draft document by Friday, November 24, 2017. All comments or questions should be submitted electronically to PublicPolicy@aibs.org.

Read the draft workshop report.

29 Sep 2017

Joint Letter from NSC Alliance and SPNHC

The presidents of the Natural Science Collections Alliance and the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections sent a joint letter to the director of Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi in Brazil. The museum is facing large budget cuts.

An excerpt of the letter follows.

“The international links between institutions are strong and increasingly important as we help society and governments address challenges related to food security, emerging zoonotic pathogens and public health, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, invasive pests and other serious issues.

Worldwide, natural history museums are experiencing renewed interest and vitality, so it is disturbing to learn that a world-renowned institution, such as the Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi is seeing such a dramatic loss of financial support. The specimens and associated data held in your collections are irreplaceable and critically important to research into changing environmental conditions and the natural history of an extraordinarily biologically diverse region of our planet.”

Read the full letter.

25 May 2017

Biology Community to Congress: Reject Budget, Fund Science

A letter to Congress calls for lawmakers to reject the deep cuts to research and science education proposed in President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget request.

“The budget cuts outlined by the Administration for 2018 would set back American innovation for years. Funding rates for programs that support foundational biological research are already extremely low, with roughly four out of five research proposals rejected by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. The proposed budget would slash these funding rates even further for researchers at universities, colleges, marine labs, field stations, biological collections, and other non-profit research centers. Research conducted at federal labs would be harmed by likely staff reductions and cuts to research budgets.”

The letter was signed by the NSC Alliance and 40 other scientific organizations.

Read the letter at https://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20170523multisocietyletter.html.

24 May 2017

NSC Alliance Weighs in on Federal Funding for 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 critical for our nation’s continued scientific leadership.”

NSCA FY 2018 Interior Testimony

10 May 2017

NSC Alliance Members Invited to Interact With Lawmakers This Summer

The Natural Science Collections Alliance is pleased to announce that Alliance members are eligible to participate in the 2017 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 member organizations, but registration will close on July 18, 2017. To register, visit https://www.aibs.org/public-policy/congressional_district_visits.html.

05 May 2017

Action Alert: Speak Up for Museum Funding

Call your Senators and ask them to sign the dear colleague letter in support of funding for the Office of Museum Services within the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The letter is being circulated by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The deadline for Senators to sign the letter is 17 May.

Find your Senators’ contact information at https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/.

A record number of Representatives signed the House dear colleague letter. 166 Representatives supported the request for “robust funding” for IMLS Office of Museum Services in fiscal year 2018.

President Trump proposed the elimination of IMLS in his 2018 skinny budget request to Congress.

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