New & Noteworthy



Archive for May, 2017

25 May 2017

Biology Community to Congress: Reject Budget, Fund Science

A letter to Congress calls for lawmakers to reject the deep cuts to research and science education proposed in President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget request.

“The budget cuts outlined by the Administration for 2018 would set back American innovation for years. Funding rates for programs that support foundational biological research are already extremely low, with roughly four out of five research proposals rejected by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. The proposed budget would slash these funding rates even further for researchers at universities, colleges, marine labs, field stations, biological collections, and other non-profit research centers. Research conducted at federal labs would be harmed by likely staff reductions and cuts to research budgets.”

The letter was signed by the NSC Alliance and 40 other scientific organizations.

Read the letter at https://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20170523multisocietyletter.html.

24 May 2017

NSC Alliance Weighs in on Federal Funding for Collections

The NSC Alliance provided testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees regarding funding for certain programs that curate natural history collections. The testimony addressed programs within the Department of the Interior and Smithsonian Institution.

“Scientific collections are critical infrastructure for our nation’s research enterprise. Research specimens connect us to the past, are used to solve current societal problems, and are helping to predict threats to human health, methods for ensuring food security, and the impact of future environmental changes. Sustained investments in scientific collections are critical for our nation’s continued scientific leadership.”

NSCA FY 2018 Interior Testimony

10 May 2017

NSC Alliance Members Invited to Interact With Lawmakers This Summer

The Natural Science Collections Alliance is pleased to announce that Alliance members are eligible to participate in the 2017 Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event.

This national initiative is an opportunity for scientists across the country to meet with their federal or state elected officials to showcase the people, facilities, and equipment that are required to support and conduct scientific research.

There is a pressing need for the scientific community to engage with policymakers about the value of natural history collections in research and education. As called for in the recent report from the Biodiversity Collections Network, “The community must do a better job of communicating outcomes and benefits of digitization efforts to policymakers, administrators, other scientists, and the public.”

The Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event enables scientists, curators, museum professionals, and graduate students to meet with their elected officials without traveling to Washington, DC. Participants may either invite an elected official to tour their research facility or can meet at the lawmaker’s local office. Meetings will take place mid-July through October, depending on the participant’s schedule.

NSC Alliance members who participate will receive one-on-one support and online training to prepare them for their tour or meeting.

The event is open to all types of natural science collections, including biological, geological, and anthropological collections.

Participation is free for NSC Alliance member organizations, but registration will close on July 18, 2017. To register, visit https://www.aibs.org/public-policy/congressional_district_visits.html.

05 May 2017

Action Alert: Speak Up for Museum Funding

Call your Senators and ask them to sign the dear colleague letter in support of funding for the Office of Museum Services within the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The letter is being circulated by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The deadline for Senators to sign the letter is 17 May.

Find your Senators’ contact information at https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/.

A record number of Representatives signed the House dear colleague letter. 166 Representatives supported the request for “robust funding” for IMLS Office of Museum Services in fiscal year 2018.

President Trump proposed the elimination of IMLS in his 2018 skinny budget request to Congress.

05 May 2017

NSC Alliance Board of Directors to Meet in Denver, Prior to Director’s Summit

The NSC Alliance Board of Directors will meet on 18 June 2017 in Denver, Colorado. The board meeting precedes a one-day Director’s Summit meeting co-organized by NSC Alliance. More information about the Summit meeting is available here. The Summit meeting also precedes the annual meeting of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections.

NSC Alliance members interested in learning more about the NSC Alliance board meeting should contact NSC Alliance president Dr. Joseph Cook.

04 May 2017

Survey on NEON Bioarchive

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is seeking input regarding plans for its bioarchive of natural history collections. The bioarchive will include specimens, tissues, and soil and water samples.

The overarching goal of the NEON Bioarchive is to make reference material and replicate samples available to the science and education communities for future research and retrospective studies.

To inform the design and operation of the bioarchive, a survey has been created. Please provide input by May 9, 2017. The survey is online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N8DN7RJ. Questions can be sent to Dave Tazik at dtazik@battelleecology.org.

03 May 2017

End In Sight for Spending Bills

It is anticipated that Congress will soon finalize spending for fiscal year 2017, more than seven months after the start of the fiscal year. Lawmakers have passed three continuing resolutions to keep the government open, including most recently on Friday.

Notably, the spending deal does not include most of President Trump’s recent budget requests. There is no funding for a border wall nor massive increases in defense spending at the expense of non-defense programs, although the Pentagon will receive a $15 billion increase.

Science programs were largely spared from the sharp cuts the Trump Administration had sought. A summary of science spending included in the current package:

  • Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy: +5 percent
  • Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: +7 percent
  • Agricultural Research Service: -6 percent
  • Department of Energy Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research: +0.5 percent
  • Environmental Protection Agency, Science and Technology: -4 percent
  • Forest Service, Forest and Rangeland Research: -1 percent
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services: +0.4 percent
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Science: +3 percent
  • National Institutes of Health: +6 percent
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: -2 percent
  • National Science Foundation: +0.1 percent
    • Research and Related Activities: flat
    • Education and Human Resources: flat
    • Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction: +4 percent
  • Smithsonian Institution: +3 percent
  • U.S. Geological Survey, Ecosystems: -0.3 percent

Some senior lawmakers questioned whether it was worth it to kick the metaphorical can so far into the fiscal year when appropriations bills could have passed months ago with bipartisan support. Lawmakers elected to wait until the spring to finish 11 of the 12 appropriations bills so that the new president could provide input.

“I don’t think much has been achieved by this other than we’re racing around here at the last minute when we shouldn’t have been,” said Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that more than 160 “poison pill riders” were removed from the spending package. Environmental issues, women’s health, and immigration were among the contentious issues negotiated.