About the Natural Science Collections Alliance


The Natural Science Collections Alliance is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit association that supports natural science collections, their human resources, the institutions that house them, and their research activities for the benefit of science and society.

Our members are part of an international community of museums, botanical gardens, herbariums, universities and other institutions that house natural science collections and utilize them in research, exhibitions, academic and informal science education, and outreach activities.

Membership in the NSC Alliance links you to a network of institutions, scientists and other professionals in North America through which you can share news, information and common concerns - and help shape the future of our community.

 


NSC Alliance in the News



Published on 17 May 2019

BCoN: Consider Endorsing Extended Specimen Report

Last month, members of the NSC Alliance Board of Directors participated in a National Press Club event on April 4, 2019, to celebrate the public release of the Biodiversity Collection Network’s (BCoN) community-informed vision document: Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education. If you have not yet reviewed the document, we invite you to read the summary brochure and longer document which are available at https://bcon.aibs.org/2019/04/04/bcon-report-extending-u-s-biodiversity-collections-to-promote-research-and-education/. A special report will appear in the journal BioScience later this year.

NSC Alliance members are encouraged to join fellow NSC Alliance members — Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, the KU Biodiversity Institute, Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University, and Occidental College, among others — in endorsing the vision document.

If your organization would like to endorse the plan, please send a PDF file of a letter on letterhead and signed by an authorized representative of your organization to BCoN care of the American Institute of Biological Sciences at publicpolicy@aibs.org.

Published on 17 May 2019

National Science Board Seeking New Members

The National Science Board (NSB) is accepting nominations for the NSB Class of 2020-2026 through May 31, 2019. NSB, the oversight and governance board of the National Science Foundation, is seeking recommendations for new Board Members from leading scientific, engineering, and educational organizations, as well as the public.

Information about the process and requirements is available at: https://www.nsf.gov/nsb/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=298427

Published on 17 May 2019

House Considers FY 2020 Funding Despite No Deal on Budget Caps

Appropriators in the U.S. House of Representatives have started to consider spending bills for fiscal year (FY) 2020. Importantly, Congress and the President have not yet reached agreement on a deal to raise the budget caps that are set to kick in later this year.

Since 2013, budget sequestration has dramatically cut funding available for federal programs that support research, environmental stewardship, education, housing, foreign aid, and other programs. Congress has since reached three budget agreements, in 2013, 2015 and 2018, to lessen the extent of sequestration. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 expires on October 1, 2019. Several science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), could experience cuts if the budget caps are not raised prior to FY 2020.

The House and Senate leadership have begun discussions with the White House on a possible two-year budget deal. Although it is still unclear how the budget cap negotiations will play out, House appropriators are pushing forward with their own spending plan.

The House Appropriations Committee advanced the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, their first spending bill for FY 2020, on May 8. The bill includes $189.9 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $11.8 billion above the 2019 enacted level and $48 billion above the President’s budget request for FY 2020. The National Institutes of Health would receive $41.1 billion in FY 2020, an increase of $2 billion over the FY 2019 enacted level. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), slated for closure under the President’s budget, would receive $257 million, an increase of $15 million.

The House Appropriations panel has also approved topline spending numbers for each of the twelve appropriations subcommittees, allocating increases to all 12 spending bills relative to FY 2019 enacted levels. The spending number for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, which includes the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, would increase by $2.3 billion to $66.4 billion. The Energy and Water Development allocation, which includes funding for the Department of Energy Office of Science, would get a boost of $1.8 billion over FY 2019. The panel has also approved spending increases for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (+$1.7 billion) and Agriculture (+$1.3 billion).

On May 15, the House spending panel on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies advanced their FY 2020 appropriations bill that would boost funding for the Department of the Interior (+$833 million) and the Environmental Protection Agency (+$ 672 million) in FY 2020. The bill would provide $1.24 billion (+$75 million) for USGS, $1.4 billion (+$66 million) for the Bureau of Land Management, $1.7 billion (+$79 million) for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and $3.4 billion for National Park Service (+$168 million). The Smithsonian Institution would receive $1.07 billion, an increase of $28 million above FY 2019.

The Senate has yet to begin marking up spending bills for FY 2020. Republican appropriators in the Senate have expressed an interest in reaching a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on discretionary spending caps before starting work on appropriations.

Published on 15 May 2019

NSC Alliance Provides Testimony in Support of IMLS

The Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) provided testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

“Museums strengthen our national economy. They provide core educational and outreach programs to engage the public and contribute more than $50 billion to the U.S. economy every year, support more than 726,000 American jobs, and generate $12 billion in tax revenue. It is of paramount importance to invest in museums given the enormous economic and educational contributions of these institutions.”

The testimony urged appropriators to reject the President’s proposal to eliminate IMLS and to instead provide IMLS with at least $257 million in FY 2020.

Read the testimony.

Published on 22 Apr 2019

NSC Alliance Urges Senate Appropriators to Support FY 2020 Funding for NSF

The Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) provided testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee, highlighting the importance and role of natural history collections.

“Natural science collections advance scientific research and education, and that informs actions to improve public health, agricultural productivity, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and American economic innovation. Current research involving natural science collections also contributes to the development of new cyberinfrastructure, data visualization tools, and improved data management practices.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a key federal supporter of scientific collections. NSF supports research that uses existing collections as well as studies that gather new natural history specimens. NSF’s Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO), Geosciences (GEO), and Social and Behavioral and Economic sciences support research and student training opportunities in natural history collections. NSF also supports national biological research infrastructure that houses natural history collections, such as living stock collections and field stations.

The testimony called for $9 billion for NSF in fiscal year (FY) 2020.

Read the testimony.

Published on 19 Apr 2019

Plan to Attend: 2019 Digital Data Conference

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in collaboration with iDigBio of the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Natural Science Collections Alliance, and Ecological Society of America is pleased to announce the third annual Digital Data in Biodiversity Research conference, to be held 10-12 June 2019 at Yale University, New Haven, CT.

The 2019 conference will focus on methods, protocols, and analytical tools for the use of digital data in biodiversity research and encompass the uses of such data across all disciplines within the biological and ecological sciences. Special emphasis is placed on the use of digitized specimen data and big data analytics.

For more information and to register, please visit
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/3rd-annual-digital-data-conference-methods-protocols-and-analytical-tools-for-specimen-based-tickets-54760252389

Published on 19 Apr 2019

Action Alert: Ask Your Members of Congress to Support NSF

Congress has begun work to set funding levels for federal programs for fiscal year (FY) 2020. Scientists interested in the National Science Foundation (NSF) should consider contacting their U.S. Representative and Senators to ask that they provide NSF with $9 billion in FY 2020.

NSF is the primary federal funding source for discovery-driven research at our nation’s universities and colleges. The President’s budget request for FY 2020 proposes a 12.5 percent cut to NSF, including a 13 percent reduction to its research activities. This budget hurts research and undermines the nation’s ability to address national challenges.

If funded at $9 billion, NSF can accelerate progress on its 10 Big Ideas, expand support for early career researchers, and create new interdisciplinary research programs. This funding level will also ensure that NSF can sustain investments in the programs that are of interest to NSC Alliance members. At the $9 billion funding level, NSF will be able to sustain investments in core research programs.

Individuals can send a letter to their members of Congress from the AIBS Legislative Action Center.

Published on 10 Apr 2019

NSC Alliance Urges Senate Appropriators to Support Federal Funding for Collections

The NSC Alliance provided testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding for certain programs that curate natural history collections within the Department of the Interior and Smithsonian Institution.

“Scientific collections are critical infrastructure for our nation’s research enterprise and a national treasure. Research specimens connect us to the past, are used to solve current 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 in our national interest.”

The testimony called for new investments within the Department of the Interior and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

Read NSCA’s FY 2020 Interior testimony to Senate.

Published on 04 Apr 2019

New Report from BCoN: Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education

The Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) has released its new report, Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education. You are invited to download and share the summary brochure and to review the longer report that provides additional detail about this vision for the future..

An excerpt from the report: “There is an urgent need to build a network of extended specimen data that represents the depth and breadth of the more than one billion biodiversity specimens held in U.S. collections institutions. The Extended Specimen Network (ESN) would include the physical specimen and its associated physical and digital genetic, phenotypic, and environmental data. The network would rely on new data integration mechanisms necessary to link all of the dynamic components together. The ESN will help researchers understand the rules that govern how organisms grow, diversify, and interact with one another, and how environmental change and human activities may affect those rules. As a resource for formal and informal education (including citizen science), the ESN will provide scalable learning opportunities for K–12 and lifelong learning in data literacy as well as the life sciences and humanities.”

Read the report.

Published on 29 Mar 2019

President Trump Proposes Large Budget Cuts for Science

The White House released the President’s Budget Request for fiscal year (FY) 2020 on March 11, 2019, proposing deep cuts to science funding for the third consecutive year. The proposal calls for significant cuts to many federal science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Smithsonian Institution.

The $4.7 trillion FY 2020 budget framework includes $1.3 trillion in discretionary spending, of which $543 billion (-5 percent) is for nondefense discretionary spending. Defense spending would receive a 5 percent boost to $750 billion. According to Science Insider, overall federal R&D funding would decrease by 11 percent.

According to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Russ Vought, the proposal “embodies fiscal responsibility, and takes aim at Washington’s waste, fraud, and abuse.” The Administration’s key funding priorities include “addressing wasteful Washington spending, strengthening our southern border, promoting a healthy American economy, and maintaining a strong national defense.”

Some key budget items related to science include:
- NSF would receive $7.1 billion in FY 2020, a 12.5 percent cut from the FY 2019 level enacted by Congress.
- The Smithsonian Institution would receive a 6.2 percent budget cut, with the Salaries and Expenses account receiving a boost of $19.3 million.
- The Institute of Museum and Library Services has been proposed for termination for the third year in a row. The budget request would provide $23 million for its “orderly closure.”
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would get $4.5 billion (-17 percent), with funding for “lower priority” NOAA grant and education programs, including the Sea Grant, Coastal Zone Management Grants, and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, zeroed out.
- A $12.6 billion (-14 percent) budget is proposed for the Department of the Interior. The National Park Service would receive $2.7 billion (-15 percent), with $321.6 million (-4 percent) targeted to natural and cultural resource stewardship. The Bureau of Land Management would be trimmed by 11 percent to $1.2 billion, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would receive $1.3 billion (-16 percent). The Administration requested $983.5 million for USGS, more than 16 percent below FY 2019. Under the request, 7 of the agency’s mission areas will be realigned into 5 mission areas. Under the new structure, the new Ecosystems mission area would receive a nearly 35 percent budget cut. The proposal would also terminate the Biological Survey Unit and Cooperative Research Units and reduce funding for climate research.
- NIH’s budget would be slashed by 13 percent to $34.4 billion.
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would receive only $688 million, a 30 percent cut, in FY 2020.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would see its budget slashed by nearly 31 percent to $6.1 billion. Scientific research at EPA would be reduced by 35 percent.
- Agricultural research is also slated for large cuts. Funding for the Agricultural Research Service within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be slashed by 26 percent. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) would lose 5 percent. On the upside, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) would receive an infusion of 20 percent to $500 million.

The FY 2020 budget proposal has already largely been dismissed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and is unlikely to pass as proposed. However, science policy experts warn that given the myriad proposed cuts and realignments, science advocates must offer a spirited and persistent campaign to secure funding.

Describing the President’s budget, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) said, “President Trump has somehow managed to produce a budget request even more untethered from reality than his past two.” She added, “With such misguided priorities, the Trump budget has no chance of garnering the necessary bipartisan support to become law. I am committed to working with my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, to write appropriations bills that responsibly fund the government.”

House Interior-EPA Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), called the budget “dead on arrival.” Republican Appropriator Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said, “In all the years that I’ve been here, there’s never been a president’s budget that has passed as submitted, and I don’t think this will be any different.”

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