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Archive for the 'Statements' Category

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.

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 DBICSBR@nsf.gov.

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.

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