New & Noteworthy

Archive for the 'Statements' Category

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.

29 Aug 2013

NSC Alliance, AIBS, and SPNHC Offer Information on Big Data

Three scientific organizations dedicated to the preservation and use of biocollections have provided comments to the federal government about digitization of natural history collections as part of ‘big data.’  The letter to the National Coordination Office (NCO) for Networking and Information Technology Research and Development outlines the Network Integrated Biocollections Alliance (NIBA), an initiative developed by the scientific community that will contribute to and benefit from big data collaborations.  The letter responded to a request for information on Big Data high-impact collaborations and areas for expanded collaboration between the public and private sectors.

An excerpt of the letter, signed by the presidents of the Natural Science Collections Alliance, American Institute of Biological Sciences, and Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, follows:

“The NIBA is a national scientific, engineering, and data mobilization initiative.  When fully realized, NIBA will provide online access to digitized data for biological specimens held in natural history museums, university science departments, and government laboratories across the United States.  Scientists have amassed and curated more than one billion specimens in more than 2,500 institutions across the United States.  Once digitized, these specimens will represent millions or even billions of data points.  These specimens and their associated data are maintained for research and education and to inform wise decisions about the environment, public health, food security, and commerce.”

Click here to read the letter.

28 Aug 2013

Proposed NSCA Board Slate: Additional Nominations Accepted Until September 28, 2013

Annual NSCA Board elections are getting underway, as per the NSCA Bylaws, which state:

“The Nominating Committee shall furnish the names of nominees to the Secretary, who shall circulate them either in written or electronic form (e.g., web site) to the members at least thirty (30) days in advance of the election in order to provide for additional names to be nominated by the membership.  Nomination to the ballot from the membership requires written support from 10 members from any category of membership.”

Please click here (PDF) to view the slate of candidates proposed by the Nominating Committee.  Additional nominations (with written support from 10 members) may be sent to the Nominating Committee Chair, Larry Page, at

An online ballot for membership voting will be posted after nominations close.

03 Jun 2013

Sign Up to Showcase Science to Policymakers This August

The Natural Science Collections Alliance is proud to announce that it joining with the American Institute of Biological Sciences and Entomological Society of America to sponsor the 5th Annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event.

This national initiative is an opportunity for biologists 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.

The 5th Annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event will be held throughout the month of August 2013.  This event is an opportunity for scientists, graduate students, representatives of research facilities, and people affiliated with scientific collections to meet with their elected officials without traveling to Washington, DC.  Participants may either invite their elected officials to visit their research facility or can meet at the policymaker’s local office.

Participants will be prepared for their meeting with a lawmaker through an interactive training webinar.  Individuals participating in this event will receive information about improving their communication skills, tips for conducting a successful meeting with an elected official, and information about federal funding for biological research.

Participation is free for NSC Alliance members, but registration will close on July 15, 2013.  For more information and to register, visit

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