New & Noteworthy

Archive for June, 2009

16 Jun 2009

Opportunity for NSCA Members to Support Funding for NSF and USGS

Through the NSC Alliance partnership with the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), the NSC Alliance has access to the AIBS Legislative Action Center (  This tool allows you to quickly send a letter to your members of Congress to share your perspectives on policy issues.

Congress is working on fiscal year (FY) 2010 appropriations legislation for key science agencies.  At this time, spending plans for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and United States Geological Survey (USGS) are moving quickly though the House of Representatives.  The Senate is expected to consider science appropriations measures in the coming weeks.  For these reasons, it is important that members of Congress hear from the science community today about the importance of these and other federal science agencies.

The House is expected to pass an FY 2010 appropriation for NSF that is just below the President’s budget request.  It is not clear if the Senate will provide the same, more, or less funding for NSF.  Thus, it is important that you send a message to your Senators today requesting that they support the President’s FY 2010 budget request for the NSF.  You may send a prepared letter by going to, or you may personalize the letter to demonstrate why funding for NSF and other science agencies is important to your natural science collection.

The House Appropriations Committee is also working on its FY 2010 appropriations for Interior and Environment, which includes agencies such as the United States Geological Survey.  At this time, it is expected that USGS may receive slightly ($8 million) more than the President’s FY 2010 budget request.  It is important that your Representatives know that this funding is important.  So, please consider sending a letter in support of the USGS by clicking

If you would like to craft your own letter of support for these or any other science agency, you may do so by simply registering for the Legislative Action Center at and then selecting your members of Congress.

15 Jun 2009

Natural Collection Used in Hudson River Plane Crash Investigation

The Smithsonian Institution’s natural science collection has been used to successfully identify the species and origin of the birds which are implicated in the January 15, 2009 plane crash of US Airways flight 1549.  All 150 passengers and five crew survived the plane’s crash landing into the icy Hudson River.  Researchers at the Smithsonian’s Feather Identification Laboratory compared feathers from the crash site to feathers in the Institution’s collection and used molecular genetic techniques to determine that the flock of birds the plane struck while taking off from La Guardia Airport were Canada geese.  Molecular analysis by the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute labs further honed in on the origins of the birds.  Stable isotope analysis revealed that the birds were from the Labrador region of Canada and not residents of the New York City area.  Information on whether the birds were residents vs. migratory is critical for minimizing the risk of bird strikes with planes.  The results of the research can be read in the June 8, 2009 issue of Frontiers in Ecology and Environment.

05 Jun 2009

NSCA Submits Comments on Louisiana Science Education Rule

On June 5, 2009, NSC Alliance submitted comments to the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on a draft science education rule.  The rule would implement the Louisiana Science Education Action (SB 733), which was enacted in June 2008.  The Act is viewed by many as a back door approach to teaching creationism.  The rule approved by the Board of Education in April 2009 would “allow and assist educators in promoting critical thinking skills and objective discussion of scientific theories.”  Under the proposed rule, teachers would be allowed to use supplemental textbooks and materials in science classes after covering the content of the state’s science curriculum.

Click here to read the text of the letter.

01 Jun 2009

New Recovery Act Funding Opportunities

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced two new funding opportunities under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on June 1, 2009.

The Recovery Act NIST Construction Grant Program will fund $120 million in grants for construction of research buildings.  All grant proposals that complement one or more programs of the Department of Commerce’s three science organizations (NIST, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Telecommunications and Information Administration), will be considered.  Specifically, these include science related to measurements, oceans and atmosphere, and telecommunications.  NIST anticipates funding 8-12 projects with federal shares in the $10-$15 million range.  Although cost sharing is not required, it is encouraged for a proposal to be selected for funding.  For more information, go to and search for opportunity number 2009-NIST-ARRA-CONSTRUCTION-01.

The Recovery Act Measurement Science and Engineering Research Grants Program will fund appropriately 20-60 proposals of $500,000 to $1,500,000, totaling $35 million in grants.  Proposals in six areas will be considered: energy, environment and climate change, information technology/cybersecurity, biosciences/healthcare, manufacturing, and physical infrastructure, with priority funding in areas of special interest to NIST.  In the environment and climate change subcategory, priority research includes measurement and modeling of aerosols and their impacts, monitoring greenhouse gas emissions, development of buoy sensor technology to support accurate ocean color and chemistry measurement, and research to better characterize environmental, health, and safety aspects of nanomaterials.  In the biosciences/healthcare subcategory, priority research includes development of measurement systems and standards for discovering and visualizing disease signatures in blood and tissue, development of measurement tools and standards for analysis of human cells, and development of reference methods and standards for nucleic acids, proteins and non-peptide hormones in blood.  For more information, go to and search for opportunity number 2009-NIST-ARRA-MSE-RESEARCH-01.