New & Noteworthy

Archive for May, 2015

28 May 2015

Brazil Adopts New Law on Accessing Biodiversity

Scientists who study biodiversity in Brazil will now have an easier time securing permission to conduct their research. The country adopted a new law that supersedes onerous regulations in place since 2001.

Under the new law, Brazilian researchers will have to register their work in a database, but will no longer have to seek permission from the Genetic Heritage Management Council. Foreign scientists are still not able to bioprospect, except if they partner with a Brazilian company or institution.

Another change is the rules regarding shipping of specimens abroad, which were previously banned unless the shipment was granted a permit. The new law simply requires a record of the shipment being entered in a registry.

26 May 2015

House Passes COMPETES Act with Some Amendments

A bill to reauthorize the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy Office of Science, and laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology passed the House of Representatives with only the support of Republican lawmakers. The final vote was 217 to 205. All members of the Democratic Caucus who were present along with twenty-three Republicans voted against H.R. 1806.

Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), the sponsor of the bill and Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, presented the bill as a “pro-science, fiscally responsible bill.” He stated “Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle would have you believe that the only way you can be pro-science is to spend more taxpayer money than the Budget Control Act allows. Real priorities require making choices. H.R. 1806 proves that we can set priorities, make tough choices and still invest more in breakthrough research and innovation.”

H.R. 1806 would increase the total NSF funding authorization, but make deep cuts to social science and geosciences research.

Twelve amendments to the “America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015” were debated, several of which were adopted.

An amendment offered by Representative Smith restored proposed cuts to the EPSCoR program and Graduate Research Fellowship. The increased funding came at the expense of research funding for the Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorates. Other amendments that were made to the legislation include encouraging female entrepreneurs, a program to incorporate robotics in K-12 education, and science education grants for Hispanic serving institutions.

An effort by Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) to strip a requirement that NSF funding be in the “national interest” failed. Foster is a physicist and one of only three Ph.D. scientists in Congress. The amendment was opposed by fellow Democrat Dan Lipinski (D-IL), who holds a Ph.D. in political science. Lipinski stated that the section was supported by NSF Director France Cordova and was the result of bipartisan negotiations.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill. “The Administration believes that H.R. 1806 would be damaging to the Administration’s actions to move American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth forward through a world-leading science, technology, and innovation enterprise.”

21 May 2015

NSC Alliance Sponsored Symposium at SPNHC Conference

On 20 May 2015 the annual meeting of the Society for Preservation of Natural History Collections kicked off in Gainesville, Florida with a Plenary Session planned by the NSC Alliance, iDigBio, and the NIBA Research Coordination Network.

The Plenary, “Collections for the 21st Century,” featured:

- Larry M. Page, Director, iDigBio, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida
In Defense of Specimen Collecting, Natural History Collections, and Bioethics

- Susan Middleton, independent artist, photographer, author and educator, and Research Associate, California Academy of Sciences
Evidence of Evolution: Darwin’s Cabinet of Curiosities

- Erin Tripp, Curator of Botany, Museum of Natural History, and Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado
Endless Forms, Most Useful

- Austin Mast, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Science, Florida State University
WeDigBio—Public Participation in Digitization of Natural History Collections Hits its Stride

- Quentin Wheeler, President, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York
Time to Grow a Pair: Institutional Leadership, Taxonomy and Natural History

- Robert Gropp, Director, Public Policy Office, AIBS and NSC Alliance, Washington, DC
Building a Networked National Community for Collections

The program, which was broadcast live by iDigBio will also be archived and made available in the coming weeks.

19 May 2015

NIBA Research Coordination Network Becomes Biodiversity Collections Network

The Network Integrated Biocollections Alliance Research Coordination Network has changed its name. The initiative, which NSC Alliance is a founding member of, has renamed itself the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCON). The name change came as a result of discussions with the biocollections community during which it became clear that the NIBA RCN name did not adequately reflect the goals and objectives of the initiative.

Despite the name change, the goals and objectives of the project remain the same – to foster the development of a sustainable community able to advance the long-term goals articulated in the Strategic and Implementation Plans for the Network Integrated Biocollections Alliance.

The Biodiversity Collections Network has established a fresh web presence at The initiative may also be engaged via Twitter @BioCollNetwork or on LinkedIn via the Biodiversity Collections Network group.

19 May 2015

National Fossil Day is Coming

The National Park Service is planning for the sixth annual celebration of National Fossil Day, which will take place on 14 October 2015. National Fossil Day is a nationwide celebration that will include paleontology activities planned by more than 300 partner organizations. NSC Alliance has once again partnered with the National Park Service to promote the event.

To join as a partner for National Fossil Day, visit

19 May 2015

IPBES Seeks Nominations for New Fellowship

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is seeking nominations of young scientists for a new fellowship. The program will offer the opportunity for fellows to gain an understanding of the assessments process on land degradation and restoration. Nominations are due by 31 May. Learn more at