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Archive for the 'News & Updates' Category

18 Sep 2019

NSC Alliance Nominates Members to NAGPRA Review Committee

The Natural Science Collections Alliance has nominated Dr. Heather Joy Hecht Edgar and Ms. Linda Lee K. (Cissy) Farm, Esq. to serve on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Review Committee.

The NAGPRA was enacted in 1990 to address the rights of lineal descendants, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations to Native American cultural items, including human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. The law requires museums to compile certain information regarding Native American cultural items in their possession or control and provide that information to lineal descendants and the National NAGPRA Program to support repatriation. The NAGPRA Review Committee is an advisory body appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, which reviews the implementation of the inventory and identification process and repatriation activities.

Dr. Edgar is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico and is active in research and administration. Ms. Farm is a Native Hawaiian attorney who has served as Interim President of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. Ms. Farm, previously nominated by NSC Alliance, has served as a member and chair of the NAGPRA Review Committee.

18 Sep 2019

Collections and Bioeconomy Are Priorities, Says White House OSTP

In an August 30, 2019 memorandum from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), federal agencies have been directed to prioritize national security, industrial leadership, energy and environmental leadership, health and bioeconomic innovation, and space exploration and commercialization in their fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget request for research and development (R&D).

The Administration’s memo on R&D budget priorities for FY 2021 provides guidance on a national strategy “to advance bold, transformational leaps in [science and technology], build a diverse workforce of the future, solve previously intractable grand challenges, and ensure America remains the global S&T leader for generations to come.”

The Administration stresses prioritizing the bioeconomy, defined as “the infrastructure, innovation, products, technology, and data derived from biologically-related processes and science that drive economic growth, promote health, and increase public benefit.” To enable bioeconomic opportunities, agencies have been directed to focus on areas such as biotechnology, scientific collections, biosecurity, omics, and data analytics, and prioritize “evidence-based standards and research to rapidly establish microorganism, plant, and animal safety and efficacy for products developed using gene editing.” In regards to public health, the memo directs agencies to prioritize research on the opioid crisis, infectious diseases, anti-microbial resistance, gene therapy, neuroscience, and HIV/ AIDS, among others.

The Administration’s energy and environmental priorities include early-stage research on nuclear, renewable, and fossil energy; efforts to map, explore, and characterize the natural resources of the exclusive economic zone; research to understand and respond to changes in the ocean system; and efforts to quantify “predictability” of Earth systems across time and space. “Knowing the extent to which components of the Earth system are practicably predictable - from individual thunderstorms to long-term global change- is vitally important for physical understanding of the Earth system, assessing the value of prediction results, guiding Federal investments, developing effective policy, and improving predictive skill,” the memo explains.

The memo also details five cross-cutting actions that spread across the R&D budgetary priorities and require departments and agencies to collaborate with each other and with the other stakeholders. These include building a diverse and highly skilled STEM workforce; creating and supporting research environments that reflect the “American values of free inquiry, competition, openness, and fairness”; supporting transformative high risk-high reward research; leveraging the “power of data” by improving data accessibility and security and building a data-skilled workforce; and expanding partnerships between agencies, academic institutions, businesses, nonprofit institutions, and other S&T sectors to build the nation’s innovation capacity.

18 Sep 2019

OSTP Seeks Public Input on U.S. Bioeconomy

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is requesting public input on the U.S. Bioeconomy, defined as the infrastructure, innovation, products, technology, and data derived from biologically-related processes and science that drive economic growth, promote health, and increase public benefit.

According to the notice, public input will inform “notable gaps, vulnerabilities, and areas to promote and protect in the U.S. Bioeconomy that may benefit from Federal government attention.”

Comments will be accepted until October 22, 2019. More information about the Request for Information is available here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-09-10/html/2019-19470.htm

18 Sep 2019

NAGPRA Review Committee to Meet in October

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Review Committee have scheduled a public teleconference on October 30, 2019. The agenda will include discussion of the Review Committee’s annual report to Congress, requests for disposition of Native American human remains, and public comment.

Register here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdaZg6_R7_F3WNA2×7W1rd2uU3qLK9EnJfAXWeXB-fnVvNByw/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1&fbzx=-800241247966857323

27 Aug 2019

NSC Alliance Members Invited to Submit Nominations for NAGRPA Review Committee

The National Park Service is soliciting nominations for two members of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation (NAGPRA) Review Committee. The Secretary of the Interior will appoint two members from nominations submitted by national museum organizations or national scientific organizations. The committee was established by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, and is regulated by the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

Nominations for the NAGPRA Review Committee are due September 9, 2019.

Information about how to submit nominations is available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/06/11/2019-12173/native-american-graves-protection-and-repatriation-review-committee-notice-of-nomination

20 Aug 2019

BCoN Early Career Travel Awards: Communications Training Professional Development

The Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) is offering a limited number of travel awards to help early career biodiversity scientists (broadly defined), collection managers, educators, and other biodiversity-collection professionals participate in the October 7-8, 2019 AIBS Communications Boot Camp for Scientists. This professional development training course is being held in Washington, DC.

Eligibility:

  • Graduate student, post-doctoral fellow, or employed less than 3 years.
  • An individual who works in a clearly articulable way to conduct or enable biodiversity-related research or education.
  • Individuals need not be affiliated with a biodiversity collection.
  • Individuals must be able to travel to Washington, DC, to participate in the October 7-8, 2019 training program.
  • Must pay the course registration fee.

For details about the award and application process go to: https://bcon.aibs.org/2019/08/19/bcon-travel-awards-for-communications-training/

30 Jul 2019

NSC Alliance Urges University of Alaska Regents Not to Cut Museum of North Funding

On July 29, 2019, the NSC Alliance urged the regents of the University of Alaska to find alternatives to devastating and irrevocable budget cuts to the Museum of the North.

The letter from NSC Alliance is below. Please consider contacting the the regents, university officials, and state legislators today to help them understand the importance of the Museum of the North to the well being of Alaska, the nation, and the world.

Read the letter.

14 Jun 2019

2019 National Fossil Day

The National Park Service (NPS) is planning for the 10th annual celebration of National Fossil Day, which will take place on October 16, 2019. National Fossil Day is a nationwide celebration that will include paleontology activities planned by partner organizations across the United States. NSC Alliance has once again partnered with the National Park Service to promote the event.

NPS and National Fossil Day partners are sponsoring an art contest as a part of the celebration. The contest theme is “Extinct Giants and Survivors of the Last Ice Age.” For details about participating, go to: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossilday/art-contest-2019.htm

If your institution or organization is planning to host a National Fossil Day event or is interested in joining NPS as a partner, visit https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossilday/index.htm.

05 Jun 2019

The Natural Science Collections Alliance Recognized for Museum Advocacy

The Natural Science Collections Alliance was honored to receive a Special Service Award from the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) for its advocacy and lobbying on behalf of museums. The NSC Alliance President Dr. John Bates accepted the award during the annual SPNHC business meeting which was held at The Field Museum of Natural History on May 31, 2019.

The NSC Alliance greatly appreciates this recognition and looks forward to further collaborations with SPNHC in the future.

The Natural Science Collections Alliance has worked collaboratively with its member institutions, SPNHC, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and other scientific organizations to increase the profile of natural history museums, botanic gardens, and other organizations that hold natural science collections. In recent years, NSC Alliance advocacy and outreach has restored funding for federal programs that support collections-related care, research, and education, articulated forward-looking national agendas that leverage the resources of collections, and ensured that orphaned collections are not lost. The NSC Alliance has briefed members of Congress, as well as federal and international program officials.

The NSC Alliance invites all scientific collections to participate in its campaigns by becoming a member.

17 May 2019

House Considers FY 2020 Funding Despite No Deal on Budget Caps

Appropriators in the U.S. House of Representatives have started to consider spending bills for fiscal year (FY) 2020. Importantly, Congress and the President have not yet reached agreement on a deal to raise the budget caps that are set to kick in later this year.

Since 2013, budget sequestration has dramatically cut funding available for federal programs that support research, environmental stewardship, education, housing, foreign aid, and other programs. Congress has since reached three budget agreements, in 2013, 2015 and 2018, to lessen the extent of sequestration. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 expires on October 1, 2019. Several science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), could experience cuts if the budget caps are not raised prior to FY 2020.

The House and Senate leadership have begun discussions with the White House on a possible two-year budget deal. Although it is still unclear how the budget cap negotiations will play out, House appropriators are pushing forward with their own spending plan.

The House Appropriations Committee advanced the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, their first spending bill for FY 2020, on May 8. The bill includes $189.9 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $11.8 billion above the 2019 enacted level and $48 billion above the President’s budget request for FY 2020. The National Institutes of Health would receive $41.1 billion in FY 2020, an increase of $2 billion over the FY 2019 enacted level. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), slated for closure under the President’s budget, would receive $257 million, an increase of $15 million.

The House Appropriations panel has also approved topline spending numbers for each of the twelve appropriations subcommittees, allocating increases to all 12 spending bills relative to FY 2019 enacted levels. The spending number for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, which includes the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, would increase by $2.3 billion to $66.4 billion. The Energy and Water Development allocation, which includes funding for the Department of Energy Office of Science, would get a boost of $1.8 billion over FY 2019. The panel has also approved spending increases for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (+$1.7 billion) and Agriculture (+$1.3 billion).

On May 15, the House spending panel on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies advanced their FY 2020 appropriations bill that would boost funding for the Department of the Interior (+$833 million) and the Environmental Protection Agency (+$ 672 million) in FY 2020. The bill would provide $1.24 billion (+$75 million) for USGS, $1.4 billion (+$66 million) for the Bureau of Land Management, $1.7 billion (+$79 million) for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and $3.4 billion for National Park Service (+$168 million). The Smithsonian Institution would receive $1.07 billion, an increase of $28 million above FY 2019.

The Senate has yet to begin marking up spending bills for FY 2020. Republican appropriators in the Senate have expressed an interest in reaching a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on discretionary spending caps before starting work on appropriations.

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