New & Noteworthy



Archive for August, 2012

22 Aug 2012

Public Comments Sought on NAGPRA Reporting Requirements

The National Park Service is currently accepting public input on reporting requirements for museums under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.  The law requires museums to compile certain information regarding Native American cultural items in their possession.

The government is interested in comments regarding ways to minimize the burden of the information collection on respondents and ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected.

Comments will be accepted through 19 September 2012.  More information is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-08-20/html/2012-20361.htm.

22 Aug 2012

Input Sought on Network Integrated Biocollections Alliance

With support from the U.S. National Science Foundation, in September 2012 the American Institute of Biological Sciences will convene a two-day workshop in Reston, Virginia, to develop an implementation plan for the Strategic Plan for a Network Integrated Biocollections Alliance (NIBA). The outcome of the workshop will be a detailed report that will be published in November.

The workshop organizing committee wants the report to be informed by as many viewpoints as possible. There will be two opportunities for individuals and organizations to inform the recommendations contained in the report. Right now, interested parties are invited to review the Strategic Plan for NIBA at http://digbiocol.wordpress.com/brochure/. Then, please share any suggestions or other comments you think could help inform the discussion and outcomes of the September workshop.

The workshop will consider how best to achieve the following objectives.

  1. Digitize data from all U.S. biological collections, large and small, and integrate these in a web-accessible interface using shared standards and formats.
  2. Develop new web interfaces, visualization and analysis tools, and data-mining and georeferencing processes and make all of the tools available for use in the nation’s collections.
  3. Enable real-time upgrades of biological data and prevent the future occurrence of non-accessible collection data through the use of tools, training, and infrastructure to ensure digital capture of data from all specimens that are added to collections henceforth.

Of particular interest to the planning committee are suggestions concerning the organization and governance required to achieve these objectives, as well as the technology development, workforce development, and workforce training that will be required to achieve them.

Please email comments to PUBL@aibs.org by Friday, September 7, 2012.

Following the workshop, additional community input will be sought on the draft report.

22 Aug 2012

November Elections Draw Near: Register to Vote

This November, voters will head to the polls to elect all members of the United States House of Representatives, 33 Senate seats, and various state government offices.  To find out more about elections in your district, visit the AIBS Legislative Action Center at http://capwiz.com/aibs/election/home/.  If you have recently moved, you will need to re-register to vote.  To obtain a voter registration form, visit http://aibs.capwiz.com/election/register_vote/.

20 Aug 2012

Action Alert: Ask Congress and the President to Prevent Devastating Budget Cuts

Under current law, federal programs face devastating across-the-board budget cuts this January. Unless Congress and the President act now, non-defense discretionary programs, such as the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of the Interior, and face mandatory 7.8 percent budget cuts in January 2013. Defense and security programs would be cut by 10 percent.

The impact of these cuts could be:

  • A loss of about 31,000 jobs in the life, physical, and social sciences, according to a report, “The Economic Impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011 on DOD and non-DOD Agencies,” prepared by Dr. Stephen S. Fuller of George Mason University.
  • The National Science Foundation could lose $538 million, an amount comparable to three-quarters of the budget for the Biological Sciences Directorate. The proposal success rate could drop from 22 percent to 16 percent, according to ResearchAmerica!.
  • The National Institutes of Health would likely fund 700 fewer grants as a result of a $2.4 billion cut, according to a report, “Under Threat: Sequestration’s Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services,” prepared by Senator Tom Harkin, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies.
  • The United States Geological Survey would likely be required to layoff employees, as most of the agency’s budget is spent on personnel.

Please take a few moments now to send a letter to your members of Congress and the President asking them to do their jobs and prevent budget sequestration.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences has prepared a report about aspects of the fiscal cliff and budget sequestration.  Download a copy at www.aibs.org/public-policy/resources/AIBS_Sequestration_Report.pdf.

03 Aug 2012

On the Importance of Scientific Collections

A series of special reports by NSC Alliance takes an in depth look at scientists and institutions who are using scientific collections.  The newest addition to the series, “Little Frog Faces Big Challenges: Herpetology Collection is Repository for Data on Rare Frog,” considers the fate of the Illinois chorus frog.  The species’ decline has been documented through natural history collections.  Download this report and others at http://nscalliance.org/?page_id=10.

02 Aug 2012

Scientists to Meet with Members of Congress

The Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) is pleased to announce the start of the 4th Annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event.  This nationwide initiative helps individual biologists and research centers meet with lawmakers while they are in their district for the August congressional recess.  Scientists participating in the event are able to discuss the importance of life sciences research with the individuals responsible for casting the votes that shape the nation’s science policy.

“Scientists are constantly generating new data and testing hypotheses of relevance to decisions being made by policymakers, and it is important that we take advantage of opportunities to meet and discuss our activities with them at every opportunity,” said Dr. Larry Page, President of the NSC Alliance, a 2012 sponsor of the event.  “The more information that is available to policymakers, the better their decisions are likely to be and the more positive the economic and environmental impacts of those decisions.”

The 4th Annual Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event occurs during the month of August.  Participating scientists and research facilities will meet with their members of Congress and their staff to show them first-hand the people, equipment, and processes involved with modern scientific research.

“It is exciting to see the growing interest in this effort from members of the scientific community,” said Dr. Robert Gropp, Director of Public Policy for the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS).  “This year a number of leading scientific societies and organizations have joined us to sponsor and participate in this important event.”

In addition to AIBS, sponsors of the 2012 event are the Long-Term Ecological Research Network, Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, and Natural Science Collections Alliance.

Gropp further said, “Federal lawmakers are in the midst of discussions to set the future economic course for our nation.  Scientific research can and must play a central role in these discussions.  It is through scientific innovation that we create quality jobs, new markets, and a stronger economy.  These meetings help scientists show lawmakers how investments in research benefit society.”

Participants in the 2012 event include individual scientists and educators, field stations, museums, and other research centers across the nation.

“My involvement in the Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits stems from my desire to promote science policy issues that impact federal and local legislation,” said participant Lauren Neighbours, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  “I firmly believe that advocating for science policy changes and improvements are critical for scientific advancement in our country.”

Participants of the Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits were prepared for meetings by an online training session presented by AIBS that helps scientists understand how to translate their research in meaningful ways for non-technical audiences.

More information about the Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event is available at www.aibs.org/public-policy/congressional_district_visits.html.