New & Noteworthy

Archive for March, 2012

27 Mar 2012

NSC Alliance Asks House to Support Proposed Funding for Interior Collections

Today, NSC Alliance submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The testimony was in support of $3.5 million in new funding for the Department of the Interior’s Cultural and Scientific Collections program.

The FY 2013 budget request would implement a multi-year action plan to address recommendations made by the Department’s Inspector General regarding Interior’s accountability for its cultural and scientific specimens. Interior is an important caretaker of museum collections; the Department has an estimated 146 million items, which is second in size only to the Smithsonian Institution.

Click here to download NSCA’s testimony to the House of Representatives.

26 Mar 2012

Pliocene Climate Data Used to Predict Future Trends

A new study published online 18 March 2012 in Nature Climate Change uses data from the Pliocene epoch to test how accurately climate models can predict future climate trends.  The Pliocene epoch is the time period from 3.3 to 3.0 million years ago, and is believed to resemble most closely, in terms of “sustained global warmth,” what is predicted for the 21st century.

The Pliocene data used in the report describe sea surface temperatures, and are “newly characterized in terms of level of confidence.”  Analyzing fossils from sediments that date to this time period, researchers were able to assess the veracity of temperature estimates.  These temperature datasets were then used to evaluate four existing climate model simulations.  “The litmus test of whether a climate model has any predictive power to tell us what future conditions might be on planet Earth in response to both natural and human climate drivers is the ability of that model to accurately predict past climate conditions as preserved in the geologic record,” says Marcia McNutt, director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The researchers found that these four climate models were consistent with each other, and in agreement with the Pliocene data, with the exception of the North Atlantic region.  This may be due to the complexity of the factors that affect the North Atlantic climate, including ocean circulation and atmospheric gases.  Overall, this study “may provide a new perspective and insight into the predictive abilities of these models in simulating a past warm interval in Earth history.”  The remaining ten general circulation models will be examined with the Pliocene data later this year.

The current work represents an international collaborative effort of the USGS with Columbia University, National Center for Atmospheric Research, University of Tokyo, Japan Agency for Marine–Earth Science and Technology, University of Leeds, British Geological Survey, and University of Bristol.

23 Mar 2012

Video of Congressional Briefing on Economic Returns from Federal Investments in R&D Now Online

A recording of a Congressional briefing on the economic returns associated with federal government funding for scientific research is now available online.

The briefing, “Research That Pays Off: The Economic Benefits of Federally Funded R&D” was held on Friday, 16 March 2012.

A video of the briefing is available online at

22 Mar 2012

NSC Alliance Asks Congress to Support Proposed FY 2013 NSF Budget

This week, NSC Alliance submitted testimony to the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. The testimony was in support of funding the National Science Foundation (NSF) at $7.373 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2013.  This funding level would represent a 4.8 percent increase for the agency over the FY 2012 enacted budget.

The testimony highlighted the contributions of NSF’s Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) to science, education, and research infrastructure. In addition to supporting the increase for research funding for BIO, the testimony urges Congress to support the $10 million requested for digitization of biological collections and to restore the proposed $4 million cut to the Collections in Support of Biological Research program.

Click here to download NSCA’s testimony to the Senate.

Click here to download NSCA’s testimony to the House of Representatives.

15 Mar 2012

NSC Alliance to Host Congressional Science Briefing on Digitization

On 5 June 2012, the NSC Alliance will host a science briefing for policymakers on “Digitizing Science Collections: Unlocking Data for Research and Innovation.”  The event will provide congressional, federal, and nongovernmental decision makers with information about the value of scientific collections and efforts to make collections more accessible through digitization.

Draft Program

Natural science collections are research facilities and infrastructure that house irreplaceable specimens and data.  New technologies and techniques make it possible to move this information from the shelves of a science collection to a computer in a research laboratory, classroom, or home.  This briefing will explore how scientists and natural science collections managers are working to digitize the nation’s natural science collections to press forward the frontiers of research, spur new technology, and provide information to answer pressing societal problems.


Dr. Mary Liz Jameson
Associate Professor, Wichita State University
The Value of Biological Collections to Science, Education, and the Economy

Dr. Larry Page
President, Natural Science Collections Alliance
Curator of Fishes, Florida Museum of Natural History
Digitization: A Modern Method for Exponentially Increasing Access to Collections

Dr. Michael A. Mares
Director, Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and Professor of Zoology, University of Oklahoma
Securing the Long-term Sustainability of Natural Science Collections and Data

Date: Tuesday, 5 June 2012
Time: 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Location: 2325 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC
For more information, please contact Dr. Robert Gropp or 202-628-1500 x250.

13 Mar 2012

Science Organizations Sponsor Congressional Briefing on Economic Returns from Federal Investments in R&D

Ten scientific organizations have joined together to sponsor a briefing for congressional policymakers on the economic returns associated with Federal government funding for scientific research.

The briefing, “Research That Pays Off: The Economic Benefits of Federally Funded R&D” will be held on Friday, March 16, 2012.  Two sessions have been planned.  The first session is planned for 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. and will be held in the House Natural Resources Committee Hearing Room, Longworth House Office Building 1324.  The briefing will be repeated at noon in the Congressional Visitors Center, SVC 209-209 (Colorado Senator Mark Udall is the honorary co-host).

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09 Mar 2012

NSF BIO Responds to Community Concerns about Collections Care

On 5 March 2012, Dr. John Wingfield, head of the Biological Sciences Directorate at the National Science Foundation, responded to concerns raised by the collections community about the Collections in Support of Biological Research (CSBR) program.  NSC Alliance and several other scientific organizations wrote to Wingfield in late February regarding NSF’s proposal to change the CSBR program from an annual to biennial competition, effectively cutting the program’s funding in half.

The letter, addressed to Robert Gropp, NSC Alliance director of public policy, is reprinted in its entirety below.

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02 Mar 2012

Opportunity for Public Input on NAGPRA Information Collection

The National Park Service is seeking public comments regarding the collection of information from museums about Native American cultural items in their collections.  The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) 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.

Museums are required to submit summaries of their Native American collection and inventories of human remains and their funerary objects.

Comments are currently being accepted on whether or not the information collection is necessary; ways to enhance the quality and utility of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden to respondents.

Comments are due by 1 May 2012.  More information is available at