New & Noteworthy



Archive for the 'Correspondence' 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.”

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.

25 Jun 2018

Joint Stakeholder Statement on Promoting Sustainable Use and Conservation of Biodiversity Through Open Exchange of Digital Sequence Information

The Natural Science Collections Alliance has joined with more than 50 other leading scientific organizations from around the world to express a shared concern with emerging proposals on the regulation of use of digital sequence information.

The statement was issued in response to “activities pursuant to the decisions at the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB) (Decision XIII/16) and the Nagoya Protocol (NP) (Decision NP-2/14) to “consider any potential implications of the use of digital sequence information (DSI) on genetic resources for the first three objectives of the CBD and the objective of the NP”.”

The joint statement reads, in part, “As key stakeholders, the signatory organizations are vigilant about the potentially harmful effect of inappropriate or overly burdensome regulation of genetic resources. They are therefore greatly concerned about proposals to apply ABS obligations to DSI. Such obligations would place additional hurdles on biological research – with potentially negative consequences for the advancement of science and the huge societal value this generates, as well as for achieving the three objectives of the CBD.”

Update: On November 8, an updated version of the statement became available. The statement now has 80 signatories, including the countries of Ethiopia, South Africa, and Korea, and additional industrial sectors and scientific fields, such as flavours, ornithology, and health supplements.

Read the full statement here.

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.

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.

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