New & Noteworthy

Archive for July, 2009

31 Jul 2009

NSF Seeks Reviewers for Stimulus Infrastructure Proposals

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking reviewers for proposals submitted to the Academic Research Infrastructure — Recover and Reinvestment (ARI-R2) program, a program supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  ARI-R² is designed to support 21st century research and research training infrastructure in academic institutions and non-profit research organizations, such as research museums, research laboratories, and research consortia.

NSF is in need of reviewers in three broad categories: a) expertise in a scientific, engineering or architecture field, b) experience in managing large facilities and centers, or c) expertise in computer networking; it is not expected that individuals will have competence in all categories.  If you are interested in participating in the merit review process of this program and have the time to serve on a panel in October 2009, please go to and complete and submit the short form indicating your field of expertise and availability.

23 Jul 2009

Important Policy News From NSC Alliance

NSC Alliance Launches Campaign for an Executive Order from President Obama on Science Collections

During the past year, the NSC Alliance Board of Directors has monitored the work of the federal government’s Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections (IWGSC).  This panel, whose charter expired at the end of the Bush Administration, recently released survey results that in conjunction with recent survey findings from the National Science Foundation (NSF) demonstrate a need for increased federal planning, policy coordination, and sustained investments in our nation’s scientific collections.  Additionally, the results of a 2008 NSC Alliance survey of the impacts of the nation’s economic condition on science collections further demonstrate a need for a strategic and coordinated national policy structure to preserve and advance the research and education missions of our nation’s natural science collections.

The NSC Alliance Board of Directors has met with various senior federal officials involved with the IWGSC and NSF efforts to gather data that will help inform public policy initiatives that will better serve the needs of natural science collections.  As a result of these meetings, discussions with NSC Alliance member organizations, and informal talks with leaders from other scientific societies, the NSC Alliance has set as a policy priority the issuance by President Obama of an Executive Order promoting the preservation and use of science collections.

On June 24, 2009, NSC Alliance President William Y. Brown sent a letter to Dr. John Holdren, Science Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, requesting that the formal process required to promulgate an Executive Order be initiated. At a July 13, 2009, Washington, DC, reception to celebrate the release of the IWGSC report, “Scientific Collections: Mission Critical Infrastructure for Federal Science Agencies,” Brown and NSC Alliance Director of Policy Robert Gropp spoke with Dr. Holdren and other senior government officials about the need for an Executive Order.

NSC Alliance is now gathering organizational endorsements of the Executive Order.  These statements of support are important because they demonstrate a broad recognition of need and depth of support for the Executive Order.  Thus, NSC Alliance member organizations are encouraged to review the proposed Executive Order and to send a letter of support to NSC Alliance, c/o Robert Gropp, AIBS, 1444 I Street, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC, 20005.  These letters will be compiled and provided to the White House and other key federal agency officials.

Please click here to read the proposed Executive Order and the NSC Alliance letter sent to Dr. Holdren.

Please click here for a sample letter of support.

21 Jul 2009

NPS and AMNH Sign Specimen Repository Agreement: NPS Welcomes Agreements with Other Collections

The National Park Service (NPS) and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) have signed an agreement that is intended to aid research on endangered species.

According to NPS documents, the agreement creates the National Park Service Special Collection at the AMNH which will house frozen tissue samples containing DNA of threatened and endangered animals found in parks.  The five-year renewable agreement provides NPS with the Museum’s specialized expertise and technologically advanced storage facilities.  The overall Monell Collection, launched in May 2001, will eventually house approximately one million frozen tissue samples representing the DNA of a wide range of species.  Potentially the largest and most comprehensive initiative of its kind, the Museum’s frozen tissue collection supports a broad range of research by offering an accessible repository of frozen tissue specimens.

According to NPS’s Ann Hitchcock, “NPS welcomes the opportunity to negotiate a repository agreement with each qualified institution that expresses interest in serving as a repository for NPS collections.”

Click here to view a generic version of an NPS Repository Agreement.

Click here to read the full NPS press release announcing the agreement.

16 Jul 2009

Natural Science Collections: America’s Irreplaceable Resource

NSC Alliance past-president Dr. Michael A. Mares has published a viewpoint article in the July/August 2009 issue of the journal BioScience.  Mares’ article draws attention to the challenges facing many of the nation’s natural science collections and encourages federal and state policymakers to take immediate action to preserve the nation’s thousands of scientific collections.  The article, Natural Science Collections: America’s Irreplaceable Resource (BioScience, July/August 2009, Vol. 59, No. 7, p 544-555, doi: 10.1525/bio.2009.59.7.2) is now available online at

15 Jul 2009

NSC Alliance Submits Comments on Ocean Research Plan

On July 15, 2009, the Natural Science Collections Alliance submitted comments to the Office of Science and Technology Policy on the revision of the 2007 “Charting the Course” report.  The report, which identifies and prioritizes ocean science and technology endeavors over the next decade, is currently being revised and refreshed.

In its comments, NSC Alliance highlighted the diversity and value of natural science collections in advancing ocean-related sciences and informing sound environmental policy.  “The NSC Alliance encourages the Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (JSOST) to work to ensure that the revised ocean research priorities plan includes appropriate policies and funding for natural science collections involved with the collection and curation of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes specimens and data.  Specifically, natural science collections should be identified as a “necessary tool” for implementing Theme 1, Stewardship of Natural and Cultural Ocean Resources, and Theme 5, Improving Ecosystem Health, of Charting the Course.”

The public comment period for the revision of “Charting the Course” is open until 5 pm on July 17, 2009.  For more information, go to

To read the comments submitted by NSC Alliance, click here.

13 Jul 2009

Federal Budget Analysis

Robert Gropp, director of public policy for NSC Alliance and AIBS, and Nadine Lymn, director of public affairs for the Ecological Society of America, have teamed up once again this year to prepare an analysis of the President’s federal budget request for the biological and ecological sciences.  The analysis will be published as a chapter in the forthcoming AAAS publication, “Report XXXIV: Research and Development FY 2010.

To read a pre-publication version of this chapter, which includes analysis of the NSF, USDA, DOE, USGS and DOC budget proposals, please go to

08 Jul 2009

NSC Alliance Cosponsors 1st Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits Week

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) has launched the 1st Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits Week.  This new, nationwide effort is an opportunity for scientists, science educators, and scientific facility managers to inform members of Congress about scientific research and research facilities in their congressional district.  The NSC Alliance, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Sevilleta Field Station, and the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry — North America are event Sponsors.

Each August, Representatives and Senators spend time in their Congressional districts and home states.  This is an outstanding opportunity for individuals to meet with members of Congress and to share the value of their research with the individuals responsible for casting the votes that shape the nation’s science policy.  This nationwide event allows scientists to meet with their elected officials in their own district rather than in Washington, DC, and enables elected officials to learn first-hand about the science and research facilities in their district.

Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits Week will be August 17-21, 2009.

During this week, participating scientists and research facilities (e.g., field stations, natural science collections) will meet with their members of Congress to show them first-hand the importance of sustained federal investments in biological science research and education.  Participating scientists will either set-up meetings with their elected officials at their district office or may invite them to visit a research facility, laboratory, or classroom to experience first-hand how science is done and taught.

The 1st Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits Week is an opportunity for scientists and graduate students, regardless of their policy experience, to meet with their members of Congress.  Participants will be prepared for their Congressional meeting(s) by an interactive online training session that will help them create and refine their message.  The AIBS Public Policy Office will also provide participating scientists with tips and guidance for scheduling meetings.

How to Participate

Participation is free, but registration is required and space is limited.  The deadline for registering is August 5, 2009.  If you would like to participate, please contact AIBS Public Policy Associate, Julie Palakovich Carr, at or 202-628-1500 x 225, to provide your name, affiliation, contact information (mailing address), and how you heard about this event.  If you plan on inviting your members of Congress to your research facility, please include the mailing address of your facility in your correspondence.

Organizations wishing to support this effort may still become a Sponsor or Supporter of the event.  Please contact Dr. Robert Gropp at 202-628-1500 x 250 for additional information.

Event Sponsors

-Brooklyn Botanic Garden

-Natural Science Collections Alliance

-Sevilleta Field Station

-Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry-North America

07 Jul 2009

Upcoming Communicating Science Webinar: Register Today

Funding agencies increasingly encourage grant recipients to communicate their findings to appropriate stakeholders.  Many researchers, particularly those involved with projects with implications for environmental or public health management and policy, want to communicate research findings to appropriate decision makers, news media outlets, or the general public.  This webinar presents information and findings from the HBFR Science Links Program, an experiment conducted by scientists and engineers affiliated with the Hubbard Brook Forest Research program.  The HBFR Science Links Program demonstrates how a team of scientists can identify and plan a program that effectively delivers timely scientific findings to audiences that need the information to inform decision making.

The webinar will be held on Thursday, July 30, 2009, at 2:30 PM EDT.  The agenda includes:

- Introduction: Dr. Robert Gropp, American Institute of Biological Sciences Director of Public Policy;

- Keynote Presentation: Dr. Charles T. Driscoll, University Professor, CESE Director, Syracuse University; and,

- Question and Answer: Webinar participants will be able to engage in a question and answer session with Gropp and Driscoll.

Pre-registration is required for this webinar.

For more information and to register, please go to

07 Jul 2009

House Passes Climate Change Bill

A legislative milestone was marked on June 26, 2009 when the House of Representatives by a seven vote margin (219-212) approved HR 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.   Ultimately, 44 Democrats opposed and 8 Republicans voted for HR 2454, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill.

HR 2454 includes a long list of environmental provisions, including an amendment to the Clean Air Act that establishes a cap-and-trade system intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.  The plan seeks to implement a market-based approach to establish an absolute cap on emissions and would allow trading of emissions allowances.

The Waxman-Markey bill also outlines a Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Policy.  Toward this end, the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality would chair a panel that coordinates federal strategies for reducing greenhouse gases and advises the President on policy implementation.  Within one year of enactment, the President would develop a strategy that assesses natural resource vulnerability to climate change, describes current climate change research and monitoring activities, identifies natural resources that have the greatest need for protection, and discusses actions for the implementation, and coordination of the plan by federal agencies.

HR 2454 also authorizes a National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center within the United States Geological Survey (USGS) that would assess, synthesize, and highlight gaps in current scientific knowledge in order to forecast the ecological impacts of climate change on fish and wildlife.  Funding for this effort has been included in appropriations and the USGS has been working to establish the center.  Additionally, the bill would require the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior to establish a Science Advisory Board with expertise in fish, wildlife, plant, aquatic, and coastal and marine biology, ecology, climate change, and ocean acidification.  The Board would advise the Secretaries on current science and mitigation strategies pertaining to climate change and ocean acidification, and would identify and recommend priorities for research.

Natural resource adaptation policies would be funded by 1 percent of the emissions allowances generated by industry.  Of that, 38.5 percent would be distributed to states, within which 84.4 percent would go to state wildlife agencies, and 15.6 percent would go to state coastal agencies.  The remaining 61.5 percent of the emissions allowances for natural resource adaptation would be used to establish the Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Fund.  This fund would be disbursed to six federal funding bodies, with the Department of Commerce and the Land and Water Conservation Fund getting the largest proportions, at 40.6 percent and 19.5 percent, respectively.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated a desire to begin Senate debate on climate change legislation this fall, after the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and other panels in the Senate have had an opportunity to consider legislation.

07 Jul 2009

Comments Sought on Ocean Research Plan

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is seeking public input to revise and refresh the federal government’s ocean research priorities plan.  Released in January 2007, “Charting the Course” was developed by federal agencies and outside stakeholders to identify and prioritize ocean science and technology endeavors over the next decade.  NSC Alliance submitted comments on the draft 2007 report to stress the important role that natural science collection facilities, including those affiliated with marine laboratories and field stations, will play in advancing ocean research.  The plan is now being revised to reflect recent scientific advancements and new ocean management challenges.  Comments are due by July 17, 2009.  For more information, visit  To read the comments submitted in 2006 by NSC Alliance, go to

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