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 24 Jan 2019

NSC Alliance 2019 Collections Policy and Advocacy Meeting: Register Now

Registration is now open for the NSC Alliance 2019 membership meeting, Collections Policy and Advocacy. The meeting will be held in Washington, DC, on April 2-3, 2019. Learn more about the meeting, including a draft agenda, and register at http://nscalliance.org/?page_id=1084. All NSC Alliance member institutions are encouraged to participate. In addition to being an opportunity for NSC Alliance members to network and exchange information with each other, this meeting provides a platform for the community to interact with federal program officers and lawmakers. The meeting will explore opportunities for the community to work collectively to promote new investments in natural science collections, and opportunities to inform or reform policies impacting collections. NSC Alliance members are also invited to share information about initiatives or programs at their institutions. Information about submitting an abstract is available on the meeting website.

Questions about the meeting can be directed to Robert Gropp at rgropp@aibs.org or 202-628-1500 x 250.

Published on 24 Jan 2019

Costs Mount as Government Shutdown Drags On

As government offices and research facilities across the country remain shuttered and services delayed or interrupted, the partial government shutdown that has resulted in 800,000 federal workers being furloughed or forced to work without pay has accomplished one thing – it has set a new record for how long the President and Congress have failed to govern the country.

The costs associated with the shutdown continue to grow. Beyond the pain inflicted on federal workers, contractors, and grantees, economists now estimate that the shutdown is having real and significant negative effects on Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Kevin Hassett, Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, now estimates that the shutdown will reduce quarterly economic growth by 0.13 percentage point each week. Hassett doubled his forecast after initially underestimating the economic impact of the shutdown. To put things into perspective, the economic growth in the first quarter of 2018 was 2.2 percent. Other economists also predict losses in the first quarter of 2019, including New York Federal Reserve President John Williams, who thinks the shutdown could cut quarterly U.S. economic growth by 1 percentage point. In an interview earlier this week, Hassett conceded that 0.0 first quarter growth is a real possibility. There are also a growing number of warnings of a new recession.

Prior to and subsequent to the shutdown, Congress endeavored to pass appropriations to fund the government. Prior to the beginning of the 116th Congress in January, the House and Senate were poised to pass bipartisan appropriations legislation only to have the effort thwarted by the President who at the eleventh hour said he would veto the measure. Rather than passing the legislation and forcing the President to carry out his veto threat, Congress capitulated. Congressional Republicans allowed the government to shutdown to force a standoff between the President and congressional Democrats at the start of the 116th Congress – a shutdown the President famously announced from the Oval Office that he would own. Upon taking control of the House of Representatives in January, Democrats approved appropriations legislation – the measures previously unanimously approved by the Senate in December, only to have Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) refuse to bring the measure to a vote in the Senate. Senator McConnell is now working on legislation that would fund all agencies in exchange for $5.7 billion in border wall money and other immigration reforms, based on a proposal put forth by the President. The measure, however, includes poison pills ensuring that Democrats will not support the plan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), however, dismissed the President’s proposal and insists that any negotiations on immigration and border legislation take place only after the government is funded and back to work.

The budget impasse is a threat to science, with shuttered federal agencies unable to award grants until they are funded again. Research conducted by a significant number of federal agencies has also come to a halt or is significantly limited. Currently, the shutdown directly affects the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institutes of Standards and Technology, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Smithsonian Institution, State Department, Census Bureau, United States Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, among others.

Efforts to highlight the negative impacts on science have sprung up on social media, where stories are being shared at #ScienceNotShutdown and #ShutdownBugsMe (a tag presumably initiated by the Entomological Society of America). NSC Alliance members are encouraged to share your stories with NSC Alliance via these hashtags.

The scientific community is also increasingly warning of the long-term negative effects of the shutdown. On January 18, 2019, the American Institute of Biological Sciences issued a statement warning: “This shutdown is irresponsible and it is doing real harm to people, the economy, and science… It is past time to open the government. Political fights over a wall can be conducted without destroying the morale of public servants, threatening people’s well-being, and damaging the economy. It is reprehensible to demand that federal workers be called to work without pay simply to mask the real negative impacts of this failure to govern.”

On January 23, 2019, the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) – a large coalition of scientific societies and universities that advocates for the National Science Foundation – sent a letter to the President and congressional leaders warning of the effects of the continuing shutdown. The letter urged the President and Congress to promptly fund the government and to provide the National Science Foundation with at least $8.175 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2019.

Published on 24 Jan 2019

Opportunity for NSC Alliance Members to Inform Future of Biodiversity Collections Research, Policy, and Education

The Natural Science Collections Alliance is a founding partner organization in the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN), a National Science Foundation funded Research Coordination Network. A number of representatives of NSC Alliance members recently participated in a BCoN workshop convened on 30 October – 1 November 2018 at Oak Spring Gardens in Upperville, Virginia. The purpose of the workshop was to draft a future-focused vision document for the deployment of data held in U.S. biodiversity collections for research, policy, and education.

BCoN is accepting community feedback on this draft document through 1 February 2019. NSC Alliance members are encouraged to review the document and to provide feedback. The document, supporting materials, and instructions for submitting comments are available at https://bcon.aibs.org/2019/01/16/community-input-requested-extending-u-s-biodiversity-collections-to-address-national-challenges/.

Published on 24 Jan 2019

Update on NEON Biorepository Rolling Launch

In August 2018, Arizona State University’s (ASU) Biocollections and Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center was selected by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) leadership to be the NEON Biorepository, potentially for the full 30-year duration of the project. More information about the rolling launch of the NEON Biorepository is now available online.

The NEON Biorepository represents a unique collection of biological samples with more than 100,000 samples of 40-45 types collected on an annual basis. These samples are directly tied to the research design and purpose of the NEON project to facilitate long-term ecological monitoring/forecasting on a continental scale. Therefore, the available specimens will be representative of populations and communities and associated with high-resolution environmental data. The samples are expected and need to be used now and very frequently to fulfill their scientific and societal promise.

Researchers interested in using the NEON Biorepository samples are encouraged to reach out to Nico Franz at nico.franz@asu.edu. Additionally, the link below provides answers to several questions about the NEON Biorepository (e.g. location, accessing samples, personnel, etc.), and how it is similar and different from other collections.

https://biokic.asu.edu/blog/neon-biorepository-rolling-launch-update

Published on 24 Jan 2019

Participate in 2019 Congressional Visits Day

NSC Alliance members are invited to participate in the 2019 Congressional Visits Day organized by the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). The event will be held on March 27, with supplemental training available on March 25-26.

The event allows you to meet with your members of Congress to help them understand the important role the federal government plays in supporting the biological sciences. Advocate for federal investments in biological sciences research supported by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies.

Participants will complete a communications and advocacy training program provided by AIBS that prepares them to be effective advocates for their science. AIBS also provides participants with background information and materials, as well as arranges meetings with lawmakers. On March 27, scientists will participate in meetings with their Representative and Senators.

Supplemental training program: In conjunction with the 2019 AIBS Congressional Visits Day, AIBS is offering its highly acclaimed Communications Boot Camp for Scientists. This professional development training course will be offered on March 25-26. All participants who complete the course will receive a certificate of completion indicating that they have successfully completed 12 hours of communications training. This professional development training program provides practical instruction and interactive exercises designed to help scientists (e.g. researchers, graduate students, professionals, educators) translate scientific information for non-technical audiences and to effectively engage with decision-makers and the news media. As affiliate members of AIBS, NSC Alliance members can register for the training at a discounted rate.

Scientists and graduate students who are interested in communicating the importance of federal investments in scientific research and education to lawmakers are encouraged to participate in this important event.

Express your interest in participating in the event by registering. Registration will close on February 8, 2019. Space is limited and it may not be possible to accommodate the participation of all interested individuals.

Register at: https://www.aibs.org/public-policy/congressional_visits_day.html

Published on 02 Nov 2018

Job Opening: Program Specialist at IMLS Office of Museum Services

The Office of Museum Services at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is seeking a Program Specialist. In this full-time permanent position, the incumbent will participate in grants management work involving Federal grants and cooperative agreements and provide grants-related assistance and services to both applicants and awardees. The position requires working on various phases of the receipt and processing of museum grant applications as well as the monitoring and assessing of awardee performance.

The deadline for submitting applications is November 15, 2018. For more information on the required qualifications and how to submit your application, go to: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/515727800

Published on 02 Nov 2018

Save the Date: 99th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists

The Centennial Celebration and 99th annual meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists (ASM) will take place June 28th – July 2nd, 2019 in Washington, DC. The conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill.

The ASM was established in 1919 for the purpose of promoting interest in the study of mammals and is composed of ~2,500 members, many of whom are professional scientists.

Information on sponsoring this conference is available at http://www.mammalmeetings.org/sponsor-exhibitor-information/.

Please save the date and watch for further announcements regarding abstract submissions and registration at http://www.mammalmeetings.org/

Published on 22 Oct 2018

National Museum and Library Services Board Meeting Announced

The National Museum and Library Services Board will be meeting on November 1, 2018 to advise the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) on duties, powers, and authority of IMLS relating to museum, library, and information services. The Board will also discuss coordination of activities for the improvement of these services.

The first half of the meeting is open to the public and will begin at 9:00 AM Eastern Time. This will be followed by a closed Executive session. The location for the meeting is 955 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Suite 4000, Washington, DC 20024. Please contact Katherine Maas at kmaas@imls.gov if you would like to attend the public session of the meeting.

For more information visit https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2018-10-17/html/2018-22618.htm.

Published on 19 Oct 2018

Interior Announces “Open Science” Policy

The Department of the Interior (DOI) has adopted a new policy it contends will improve transparency and public access to scientific research. The “open science” order was signed by Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on September 28, 2018. Similar to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule “Increasing Transparency in Regulatory Science,” DOI’s order requires that scientific data used in policy decisions be reproducible and made publicly accessible.

“Any decision that is based on scientific conclusions that are not supported by publicly available raw data, analysis, or methodology, have not been peer reviewed, or are not readily reproducible should include an explanation of why such science is the best available information,” states the order. Interior officials said that the policy would boost public confidence in the agency’s decision-making and increase accountability.

“This order came about in response to perennial concerns that the department has not been providing sufficient information to the public to explain how and why it reaches certain conclusions, or that it is cherry picking science to support pre-determined outcomes,” said Interior spokesperson Faith Vander Voort. “The goal is for the department to play with its cards face-up, so that the American people can see how the department is analyzing important public policy issues and be confident that it is using the best information available to inform its decisions.”

The order could restrict how DOI agencies use certain research findings and will set new data disclosure requirements for Interior grant recipients.

The new order allows for exceptions and states that the data requirements may be “waived, in whole or in part, by the Deputy Secretary upon a written determination that a waiver is necessary and the least restrictive means of protecting privacy, confidentiality, including confidential business information and trade secrets; national security, and homeland security.”

The order has been criticized as a move to restrict the use of scientific findings in decision-making at Interior. “The ‘Promoting Open Science’ order signed on Friday should be named the ‘Removing Science from DOI’ order, as it simply slashes agencies’ ability to rely on, conduct and analyze science under a pretense of increased transparency,” said Tina Swanson, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Science Center.

“They want everything publicly accessible, including the raw data, and that just doesn’t happen with peer-reviewed science, because that just doesn’t tell you anything,” said Charise Johnson, a researcher at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It also makes it look like they don’t trust their own scientists’ work.”

Unlike the EPA’s proposed “secret science” rule, which involved a public comment period, DOI’s order became effective immediately.

Published on 19 Oct 2018

Congress Averts Government Shutdown

Congress has approved and the President has signed a $853 billion spending package, which includes a stop-gap spending measure to avert a partial government shutdown. The short-term funding measure provides level funding for the government programs for which an appropriations bill had not been passed and signed into law prior to October 1.

The House approved this spending package by a 361-61 vote on September 26. The Senate had approved it a week earlier. President Trump signed the package on September 28 saying, “We’re going to keep the government open.”

The spending package includes fiscal year (FY) 2019 Defense, Labor-Health and Human Services, and Education spending bills along with the stop-gap continuing resolution (CR). The CR provides funding for Interior-EPA, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Financial Services, Commerce-Justice-Science, State-Foreign Operations, and Homeland Security at FY 2018 levels until December 7. There will be a lame-duck session after the November elections to finish work on FY 2019 appropriations.

This is the second spending package that Congress has sent to the President. The first included the Energy-Water, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch spending bills for FY 2019 and was signed into law by President Trump on September 21.

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