New & Noteworthy



Archive for September, 2019

18 Sep 2019

NSC Alliance Nominates Members to NAGPRA Review Committee

The Natural Science Collections Alliance has nominated Dr. Heather Joy Hecht Edgar and Ms. Linda Lee K. (Cissy) Farm, Esq. to serve on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Review Committee.

The NAGPRA was enacted in 1990 to address the rights of lineal descendants, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations to Native American cultural items, including human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. The law 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. The NAGPRA Review Committee is an advisory body appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, which reviews the implementation of the inventory and identification process and repatriation activities.

Dr. Edgar is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico and is active in research and administration. Ms. Farm is a Native Hawaiian attorney who has served as Interim President of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. Ms. Farm, previously nominated by NSC Alliance, has served as a member and chair of the NAGPRA Review Committee.

18 Sep 2019

Collections and Bioeconomy Are Priorities, Says White House OSTP

In an August 30, 2019 memorandum from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), federal agencies have been directed to prioritize national security, industrial leadership, energy and environmental leadership, health and bioeconomic innovation, and space exploration and commercialization in their fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget request for research and development (R&D).

The Administration’s memo on R&D budget priorities for FY 2021 provides guidance on a national strategy “to advance bold, transformational leaps in [science and technology], build a diverse workforce of the future, solve previously intractable grand challenges, and ensure America remains the global S&T leader for generations to come.”

The Administration stresses prioritizing the bioeconomy, defined as “the infrastructure, innovation, products, technology, and data derived from biologically-related processes and science that drive economic growth, promote health, and increase public benefit.” To enable bioeconomic opportunities, agencies have been directed to focus on areas such as biotechnology, scientific collections, biosecurity, omics, and data analytics, and prioritize “evidence-based standards and research to rapidly establish microorganism, plant, and animal safety and efficacy for products developed using gene editing.” In regards to public health, the memo directs agencies to prioritize research on the opioid crisis, infectious diseases, anti-microbial resistance, gene therapy, neuroscience, and HIV/ AIDS, among others.

The Administration’s energy and environmental priorities include early-stage research on nuclear, renewable, and fossil energy; efforts to map, explore, and characterize the natural resources of the exclusive economic zone; research to understand and respond to changes in the ocean system; and efforts to quantify “predictability” of Earth systems across time and space. “Knowing the extent to which components of the Earth system are practicably predictable - from individual thunderstorms to long-term global change- is vitally important for physical understanding of the Earth system, assessing the value of prediction results, guiding Federal investments, developing effective policy, and improving predictive skill,” the memo explains.

The memo also details five cross-cutting actions that spread across the R&D budgetary priorities and require departments and agencies to collaborate with each other and with the other stakeholders. These include building a diverse and highly skilled STEM workforce; creating and supporting research environments that reflect the “American values of free inquiry, competition, openness, and fairness”; supporting transformative high risk-high reward research; leveraging the “power of data” by improving data accessibility and security and building a data-skilled workforce; and expanding partnerships between agencies, academic institutions, businesses, nonprofit institutions, and other S&T sectors to build the nation’s innovation capacity.

18 Sep 2019

OSTP Seeks Public Input on U.S. Bioeconomy

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is requesting public input on the U.S. Bioeconomy, defined as the infrastructure, innovation, products, technology, and data derived from biologically-related processes and science that drive economic growth, promote health, and increase public benefit.

According to the notice, public input will inform “notable gaps, vulnerabilities, and areas to promote and protect in the U.S. Bioeconomy that may benefit from Federal government attention.”

Comments will be accepted until October 22, 2019. More information about the Request for Information is available here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-09-10/html/2019-19470.htm

18 Sep 2019

NAGPRA Review Committee to Meet in October

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Review Committee have scheduled a public teleconference on October 30, 2019. The agenda will include discussion of the Review Committee’s annual report to Congress, requests for disposition of Native American human remains, and public comment.

Register here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdaZg6_R7_F3WNA2×7W1rd2uU3qLK9EnJfAXWeXB-fnVvNByw/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1&fbzx=-800241247966857323