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Archive for the 'Statements' Category

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.

10 Jan 2017

2016 Year in Review

In 2016, 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:

  • NSC Alliance led the effort to reverse the suspension of the Collections in Support of Biological Research program by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The program was put on “hiatus” in the spring of 2016 pending agency review. In response to community opposition, NSF reinstated the program on a biennial basis.
  • Advocated to congressional lawmakers in support of increased funding for research, curation, and digitization of natural history collections for the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Department of the Interior.
  • Sent a letter signed by 63 scientific organizations to President-elect Trump about the role science should play in his administration.
  • Created two short reports on how natural history collections contribute to climate change research.
  • Gained five new institutional members: Berkeley Natural History Museums, Duke Lemur Center, Entomological Collections Network, Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, and Milwaukee Public Museum.
  • Supported a bill to reauthorize the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary federal agency that supports museum education programs, collections curation, and museum professional development.

Read the 2016 NSCA summary.

28 Jun 2016

Thirty-One Top Scientific Societies Speak with One Voice on Global Climate Change

In a consensus letter to U.S. policymakers, a partnership of 31 leading nonpartisan scientific societies today reaffirmed the reality of human-caused climate change, noting that greenhouse gas emissions “must be substantially reduced” to minimize negative impacts on the global economy, natural resources, and human health.

“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver,” the collaborative said in its 28 June letter to Members of Congress. “This conclusion is based on multiple independent lines of evidence and the vast body of peer-reviewed science.”

Climate-change impacts in the United States have already included increased threats of extreme weather events, sea-level rise, water scarcity, heat waves, wildfires, and disturbances to ecosystems and animals, the intersociety group reported. “The severity of climate change impacts is increasing and is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades,” the letter added. It cited the scientific consensus of the vast majority of individual climate scientists and virtually every leading scientific organization in the world, including the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the U.S. National Academies, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the American Statistical Association, the Ecological Society of America, and the Geological Society of America.

“To reduce the risk of the most severe impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially reduced,” the group said, adding that adaptation is also necessary to “address unavoidable consequences for human health and safety, food security, water availability, and national security, among others.”

The 28 June letter, representing a broad range of scientific disciplines, reaffirmed the key climate-change messages in a 2009 letter signed by 18 leading scientific organizations. The letter is being released again, by a larger consortium of 31 scientific organizations, to reassert the scientific consensus on climate change, and to provide objective, authoritative information to policymakers who must work toward solutions.

The June 28 letter was signed by leaders of the following organizations:

American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Chemical Society
American Geophysical Union
American Institute of Biological Sciences
American Meteorological Society
American Public Health Association
American Society of Agronomy
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
American Society of Naturalists
American Society of Plant Biologists
American Statistical Association
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium
Botanical Society of America
Consortium for Ocean Leadership
Crop Science Society of America
Ecological Society of America
Entomological Society of America
Geological Society of America
National Association of Marine Laboratories
Natural Science Collections Alliance
Organization of Biological Field Stations
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Society for Mathematical Biology
Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
Society of Nematologists
Society of Systematic Biologists
Soil Science Society of America
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

29 Mar 2016

NSC Alliance Urges New Funding for NSF

The NSC Alliance has provided testimony to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that Congress provide the National Science Foundation (NSF) with at least $8.0 billion in fiscal year 2017. This would represent an increase of $536.5 million for the agency over the current funding level, and could enable the agency to increase its funding rate by about one percent.

NSC Alliance argued: “Scientific collections are a vital component of our nation’s research infrastructure. Whether held at a museum, government managed laboratory or archive, or in a university science department, these scientific resources contain genetic, tissue, organismal, and environmental samples that constitute a unique and irreplaceable library of the Earth’s history. The specimens and their associated data drive cutting edge research on significant challenges facing modern society, such as improving human health, enhancing food security, and understanding and responding to environmental change. Collections also inspire novel interdisciplinary research that drives innovation and addresses some of the most fundamental questions related to biodiversity.”

The testimony also highlighted some examples of how NSF investments in collections have resulted in new discoveries.

Read NSC Alliance’s testimony.

24 Mar 2016

NSCA and Others Urge NSF to Reconsider CSBR Hiatus

Three leading organizations that advocate for the preservation of natural history collections have voiced concerns about the National Science Foundation’s decision to halt the Collections in Support of Biological Research (CSBR) program. In a letter dated March 24, 2016, the organizations called for the agency to “reconsider this action, which can jeopardize the long-term care, stewardship, and accessibility of these irreplaceable biological specimens and their associated data.”

NSC Alliance led the effort to rally the collections community. The letter was also signed by the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections and the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

In early March 2016, NSF posted on the CSBR website that the program “has been placed on hiatus…New proposals will not be accepted in 2016. During this time the program is being evaluated for the long term resource needs and research priorities int he Biological Sciences Directorate.”

Comments to NSF can be submitted via

Read the letter to NSF.

22 Mar 2016

NSC Alliance Calls for Funding of Interior and Smithsonian Collections

The NSC Alliance has called on Congress to adequately fund the preservation, curation, and digitization of natural history collections in fiscal year 2017. In testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, NSC Alliance expressed support for the new funding President Obama has requested for Interior and Smithsonian collections.

For fiscal year 2017, $2 million in new funding has been requested for the Department of the Interior’s Cultural and Scientific Collections program. Smithsonian Institution requested an additional $2.1 million for digitization of collections, an additional $2.7 million to strengthen curatorial staffing, and an additional $1.5 million to address deficiencies in the preservation of collections.

Read the NSCA House Interior testimony.

24 Dec 2015

2015 Year in Review

In 2015, 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:

  • Successfully re-nominated LindaLee (Cissy) Farm to serve on the Native
    American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Review Committee. She
    previously chaired the committee from 2013-2015. NSC Alliance initially
    nominated her based on the recommendation of the Bishop Museum.
  • Provided testimony to House and Senate Appropriations Committees in support
    of increased funding for research, curation, and digitization of natural history
    collections from the National Science Foundation and the Department of the
  • Held a science briefing for policymakers in Washington, DC, in December 2015
    on progress toward the goal of digitizing the nation’s biodiversity collections.
    The event also showcased ways to use crowdsourcing and citizen science in
    natural history collections.
  • NSC Alliance identified and nominated members to participate in the
    Biodiversity Collections Network “Collections Communication Workshop” that
    was held at The Field Museum in September.
  • Provided comments to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation
    Committee about what should be included in legislation to reauthorize the
    National Science Foundation.

Read the NSCA 2015 summary.

29 Apr 2015

NSC Alliance Submits Testimony Regarding Interior Collections

In testimony submitted to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, NSC Alliance voiced support for funding for scientific collections at the Department of the Interior. Interior proposes to increase funding by $1.0 million for collections management in fiscal year 2016. Additionally, the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service would maintain efforts to make natural history collections and associated data accessible.

Read NSC Alliance’s testimony.

29 Jul 2014

Scientific Organizations Express Concerns with Conference Restrictions

A group of 70 scientific organizations have expressed concerns with a bill pending in the U.S. Senate that would further restrict the ability of federal employees to attend conferences. NSC Alliance was one of the signatories.

In a letter sent to members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the organizations stated, “The Coburn-Heitkamp substitute to S. 1347, Conference Accountability Act of 2013 would raise existing barriers and perpetuate unintended negative consequences the Administration’s regulations have already imposed on our scientific enterprise and national competitiveness.”

Existing regulations on conferences have resulted in decreased attendance by federal employees and contractors at scientific and technical conferences. Several scientific meetings were canceled in 2013 as a result. The pending bill would likely further diminish turnout.

Read the letter.

31 Mar 2014

NSC Alliance Testimony Supports Increased Funding for NSF

The Natural Science Collections Alliance submitted testimony to Congress in favor of increased funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF).  The requested $7.5 billion would restore proposed cuts to research funding and enable continued investments in natural history collections.

NSF requested $7.255 billion in fiscal year 2015.  At this level, biological research funding would be cut by $12.75 million, although significant new investments would be made in science education.

Congress is currently considering funding levels for the next fiscal year, which will start on 1 October 2014.

Click here to read the NSC Alliance testimony.

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