New & Noteworthy

Archive for December, 2013

23 Dec 2013

NSF Announces Solicitation for Dimensions of Biodiversity Program

The National Science Foundation has released a program solicitation for the Dimensions of Biodiversity program.  The agency anticipates awarding 8 to 12 grants in an amount totaling $16-$22 million.

The Dimensions of Biodiversity program aims to transform “how we describe and understand the scope and role of life on Earth.”

Proposals are due by 3 April 2014.  For more information, see the program solicitation at

16 Dec 2013

Participate in the Biological and Ecological Sciences Congressional Visits Day

Scientists and graduate students who are interested in communicating the importance of federal investments in scientific research and education to lawmakers are invited to participate in the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) Congressional Visits Day in Washington, DC.

This event is an opportunity for scientists to meet with their members of Congress to discuss the importance of federal funding for biological research and education.  Event participants advocate for federal investments in biological sciences research, with a primary focus on the National Science Foundation, as well as other federal agencies.

BESC is co-chaired by the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the Ecological Society of America.

This year’s event will be held on 9-10 April 2014 in Washington, DC.  The first day is a training program that will prepare participants for meetings with congressional offices.  The second day is spent on Capitol Hill meeting with members of Congress and their staff.

There is no cost to participate in this event, but space is limited.  BESC and its member organizations are not able to pay/reimburse participants for their expenses.

Learn more about the event and express your interest in participating at  The deadline to sign up is 5 March 2014.

16 Dec 2013

Congress Nears Final Approval for Deal to Reduce Sequestration

This week, the Senate is expected to approve a bicameral deal to raise discretionary spending by $63 billion over the next two years.  The measure, which already passed the House of Representatives, provides less funding than pre-sequester levels, but would increase federal spending from $967 billion to $1.012 trillion this year.  The increase would be equally split between defense and non-defense programs.  Unlike the across-the-board spending cuts imposed by sequestration, the new agreement would allow congressional appropriators to choose specific programs to trim.

The budget agreement was negotiated by Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI).  In addition to increasing funding for programs that have been squeezed by budget sequestration, the deal saves $28 billion over ten years by requiring the President to sequester the same percentage of mandatory funding in the years 2022 and 2023 as will be sequestered in 2021 under current law.  Federal employees hired after 31 December 2013 would also have to contribute 1.3 percent more to their retirement programs than current employees.

“This agreement replaces a portion of the across-the-board spending cuts known as ‘the sequester’ that have harmed students, seniors, and middle-class families and served as a mindless drag on our economy over the last year,” said President Obama.  “It clears the path for critical investments in things like scientific research, which has the potential to unleash new innovation and new industries.  It’s balanced, and includes targeted fee increases and spending cuts designed in a way that doesn’t hurt our economy or break the ironclad promises we’ve made to our seniors.  It does all this while slightly reducing our deficits over time – coming on top of four years of the fastest deficit reduction since the end of World War II.  And because it’s the first budget that leaders of both parties have agreed to in a few years, the American people should not have to endure the pain of another government shutdown for the next two years.”

Despite objections from conservative interest groups, the House passed the budget deal last week in a bipartisan vote of 332 to 94.  The measure had the support of three-quarters of Republican Representatives and more than 80 percent of Democrats.

The Senate is expected to consider and pass the bill this week before adjourning for the holidays.

16 Dec 2013

NSF Seeks New Assistant Director for Biological Sciences

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has initiated a national search for a new Assistant Director for the Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO).

Dr. John Wingfield has served as Assistant Directorate for BIO since September 2011.  His replacement could serve on a temporary or permanent basis.

Candidates with the following qualifications are sought: outstanding leadership; a deep sense of scholarship; a grasp of the issues facing the biological sciences; and the ability to serve effectively as a key member of the NSF senior management team.  Recommendations of individuals from academic, industry, or government sectors are welcome.  The search committee is especially interested in identifying women, members of minority groups, and persons with disabilities for consideration.

Recommendations, including any supporting information, should be sent to by 15 February 2014.

04 Dec 2013

Nominations Sought for Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel

The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environment Facility is currently accepting applications for two positions from highly qualified candidates with outstanding academic and technical credentials, and a passion for advancing and improving the science/policy interface, in the areas of Biodiversity and Chemicals.

The successful candidate must have:


  1. An advanced degree, preferably a PhD in a field directly related to the position;
  2. Minimum 15 years experience in scientific research – and the application of results to real-world issues;
  3. Ability to work cross-sectorally in areas of importance related to their field of expertise;
  4. Capable of bridging scientific, technological, and policy issues;
  5. Capable of linking bio-physical and economic, socio-economic/sociocultural issues;
  6. Experience working in developing countries and in the context of multi-lateral environmental assistance;
  7. Demonstrated ability to manage scientific research undertakings involving multiple stakeholders;
  8. Excellent communication skills, orally or written.
  9. Understanding of the assigned GEF focal area, its strategic objectives, and linkages with other GEF focal areas is an asset.


  1. Extensive access to scientific networks, and demonstrated ability to engage these networks;
  2. Demonstrated expertise and leadership in one of the thematic areas noted above, supported by (but not restricted to) the candidate’s peer-reviewed publication record;
  3. Knowledge of the scientific processes required for the implementation of relevant conventions in developing countries for which the GEF supports.

A STAP Panel Member is expected to provide 60 to 90 days per year to the work of STAP. Remuneration is based on UN scales for senior consultants. A full description of responsibilities, and application forms, are available at: Applications along with a cover letter should be sent to, quoting the relevant vacancy reference number in the subject line of your email. All applications should be sent on or before the deadline of 31 January 2014.