New & Noteworthy



Archive for the 'Statements' 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.

15 Aug 2017

Museums Write to Congress about Funding

Nearly 950 museum organizations signed a letter to Congress about the need for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The agency was proposed for elimination in President Trump’s 2018 budget request.

NSC Alliance was among the signatories, as were several NSC Alliance member organizations.

“While we acknowledge the many pressing priorities in the budget, the tremendous economic and educational contributions of museums make them eminently worthy of federal funding,” states the letter. “As you make decisions about the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, we urge you to support agencies and programs that help museums make a difference in their communities.”

IMLS 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

07 Apr 2017

NSC Alliance Urges Congress to Invest in NSF

In testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the NSC Alliance highlighted the important role that natural history collections play.

“Natural science collections play an integral role in advancing research that improves public health, agriculture, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and American innovation,” states the testimony. “Current research involving natural science collections is also contributing to the development of new cyberinfrastructure, data visualization tools, and improved data management.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a core federal supporter of scientific collections. NSF supports research that utilizes existing collections as well as studies that gather new natural history specimens. NSF’s Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO), Geosciences (GEO), and Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) support research and student training opportunities in natural history collections.

The testimony called for $8.0 billion for NSF in fiscal year 2018.

Read the NSC Alliance testimony.

29 Mar 2017

Opposition to the University of Louisiana Monroe’s Plan to Ditch Collections

The Natural Science Collections Alliance wrote to the president of the University of Louisiana Monroe about the university’s plans to rapidly dismantle its natural history collections.

“Natural history museums nationwide are experiencing renewed interest and vitality, so it is disturbing to learn that an emerging university is electing to jettison important research infrastructure and the educational benefits derived from this resource, especially the specimens and associated data gathered by your faculty over decades of research on the biological and ecological systems of northern Louisiana and across the region. These specimens and associated data are irreplaceable national treasures that are critically important to research into the natural history of Louisiana and surrounding region. Because the ULM collections also shed light on how regional biodiversity is changing in response to rapid environmental change, your natural history museum is of national importance.”

The letter called for the preservation of the collections at the university or for the collections to be moved to another institution.

Letter to University of Louisiana Monroe

01 Feb 2017

Scientific Societies Speak Out on Immigration

The Natural Science Collections Alliance signed a letter, along with 150 other scientific organizations, to express concern over a recent Executive Order issued by President Trump.

The executive order, signed on 27 January 2017, prevents citizens of seven countries from traveling into the U.S. Federal courts subsequently suspended the travel ban while the case is being considered. Moreover, a federal judge in Virginia issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the travel ban from being implemented in the state.

“The Executive Order will discourage many of the best and brightest international students, scholars, engineers and scientists from studying and working, attending academic and scientific conferences, or seeking to build new businesses in the United States,” states the letter. “Implementation of this policy will compromise the United States’ ability to attract international scientific talent and maintain scientific and economic leadership.”

Another letter circulated within the scientific community has received more than 43,000 signatures in opposition to the travel ban, including more than 60 Nobel Laureates and 500 members of the National Academies.

Read the multi-society letter at https://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20170131_immigration.html.

25 Jan 2017

NSC Alliance Calls for Changes to Paleo Rule

In official comments to the Department of the Interior, the Natural Science Collections Alliance recommended several revisions to the draft rule on paleontological resources preservation.

The proposed rule is intended to address the management, collection, and curation of paleontological resources from federal lands using scientific principles and expertise, including collection in accordance with permits; curation in an approved repository; and maintenance of confidentiality of specific locality data.

Among the concerns expressed are the proposed prohibition on disclosing information about the specific location of paleontological resources and the burdensome permitting process. Under the proposed rule, the National Park Service and other Interior Bureaus would have their own permit application forms. Moreover, although the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Fish and Wildlife Service are all using DI Form 9002 (Paleontological Resource Use Permit Application), each bureau has its own instructions for how to complete each field on the form. The differences in the instructions are significant enough that an applicant would have to complete a new application for each permit they seek.

The letter also addresses the financial burdens faced by paleontological resources repositories. “The organizations that house paleontological resources bear a large financial burden in terms of storage, curation, and reporting requirements. Although many federal collections are curated by DOI, many others are located in non-governmental facilities, such as museums and universities. The federal government should do more to defray the associated costs of curation of federal paleontological resources. Ownership comes with financial responsibilities.”

Read NSC Alliance’s comments.

11 Jan 2017

NSC Alliance Calls for Increased Coordination on Soil Research

In comments provided to the federal government’s National Science and Technology Council, NSC Alliance called for efforts to build on existing research programs on soil biodiversity. The letter was submitted in response to a request for information on the “Framework for a Federal Strategic Plan for Soil Science.”

The letter also highlights the limited number of existing soil collections. “This has limited our ability to understand the soil biome and how it is being altered in response to changing environmental conditions. It has also hindered our ability to understand how soil biodiversity interacts with other biological diversity. These collections have been limited, in part, because of a lack of federal support to conduct these surveys and curate these collections. New investments are required.”

Read the letter.

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