On 1 February, the Department of the Interior (DOI) issued a policy intended to promote and protect scientific and scholarly integrity within the department. The policy, issued as a chapter in the departmental manual, provides essential details and procedures for the DOI-wide implementation of a September 2010 directive from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. The policy also responds to White House directives requiring federal departments and agencies to establish scientific integrity policies.
"The DOI policy is impressive and thorough. This policy goes a long way toward providing a model for other agencies and nongovernmental organizations," said AIBS President James P. Collins. "I commend Secretary Salazar and everyone at Interior who worked on developing the department's position in these important areas. It is an impressive accomplishment."
The DOI scientific and scholarly integrity policy includes a number of provisions recommended by AIBS and other scientific organizations in response to a draft policy issued for comment last year.
To help advance the national dialogue about scientific integrity policy, AIBS plans a roundtable discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The discussion, cosponsored by the Consortium for Science Policy Outcomes, will bring together representatives from governmental and nongovernmental organizations to discuss the ramifications, enforcement, and transferability of the DOI policy to other government agencies and potentially nongovernmental organizations.
The DOI scientific and scholarly integrity policy is available at http://elips.doi.gov/app_dm/act_getfiles.cfm?relnum=3889. AIBS comments on the DOI's draft policy are available at www.aibs.org/position-statements/.
AIBS has selected Wesley Brooks, a PhD candidate at Rutgers University, to receive the 2011 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award (EPPLA).
"AIBS is committed to fostering a productive dialogue between policymakers and scientists," said AIBS Executive Director Richard O'Grady. "We applaud Wesley Brooks for exemplifying this commitment through his work."
Since 2003, AIBS has recognized the achievements of biology graduate students who have demonstrated an interest and aptitude for contributing to science and public policy. In March, AIBS will bring Brooks to Washington, DC, to meet with his congressional delegation and to attend a briefing on the federal budget for scientific research. These events are in conjunction with the annual Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition Congressional Visits Day. Brooks will also receive a certificate and one-year membership in AIBS, which includes a subscription to the journal BioScience.
"I believe that this award will provide me with the momentum, knowledge, and interpersonal connections necessary to effectively transition from my graduate research to a long-term career in public service and science advocacy," Brooks said.
Brooks is pursuing a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology at Rutgers University. His thesis research explores how fish and plant community properties affect the susceptibility of those communities to invasion by nonnative species. He hopes that his research findings will identify lower-cost alternatives for the control of invasive species. While in graduate school, Brooks was an intern with the National Center for Environmental Economics at the Environmental Protection Agency, where he contributed to the development of a computer model to more accurately project the costs of climate change. He was also a Governor's Executive Fellow through a program at Rutgers's Eagleton Institute of Politics.
This year, AIBS will also recognize as EPPLA honorable mention recipient Michael Jay Walsh, a PhD student in biological and environmental engineering at Cornell University.
Recently, several student members of the Botanical Society of America developed an open letter to lawmakers to express their hope that policymakers in Washington, DC, will sustain a national commitment to invest in our nation's scientific research, development, and education systems.
The letter encourages "Congress and the president to make sustained investments in the nation's scientific research, education, and training programs." It states that "the extramural, competitive, peer-reviewed grant programs administered by federal agencies are critical to our nation's scientific enterprise and future." Students interested in signing the letter may do so at www.aibs.org/publicpolicy/science_students_letter.html.
The Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF), an AIBS member organization and contributor to the AIBS Public Policy Office, will be on Capitol Hill next month to provide a scientific perspective on Gulf of Mexico ecosystems, as well as effects to society one year after the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill. The AIBS Public Policy Office has provided CERF with assistance in organizing and making arrangements for the science briefing.
"The Gulf of Mexico is vital to the US economy, supporting a large oil and gas industry, exceptional fishery production, shipping, and tourism," stated CERF President Susan Williams. "The BP oil spill is just the most recent environmental impact in a series of cumulative changes to Gulf ecosystems, which together have had significant socio-economic consequences. CERF scientists have studied Gulf ecosystem responses to these cumulative effects over many years and can provide data-rich information on Gulf ecosystems to place the BP spill in a comprehensive perspective."
The briefing will point to advances in understanding the Gulf ecosystems and scientific gaps in knowledge that are important to address, such as the science of oil pollution in deep waters.
CERF is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization created in 1971 to advance understanding and wise stewardship of estuarine and coastal ecosystems worldwide. Its mission is to promote research in estuarine and coastal ecosystems; support education of scientists, decisionmakers, and the public; and facilitate communication among these groups.