On Thursday, 15 January, Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled an unprecedented legislative proposal to provide $825 billion to stimulate the economy. Among the objectives for the stimulus package is the creation or preservation of three million jobs by 2010. Within the draft package moving through the House of Representatives, is nearly $275 billion for tax cuts and $550 billion in other government spending, including funds for state and local government programs. President Obama has praised legislators and said that the measure is a significant down payment on our most urgent challenges.
Funding for science is included in the legislation working its way through the House. At present, there is an estimated $13 billion being targeted to scientific research and additional funds for research infrastructure. Currently, the allocations are as follows:
National Institutes of Health: at least $2 billion to support research; approximately $2.5 billion to update NIH, CDC, and non-federal research and university research facilities.
Department of Energy: approximately $2 billion into basic science research, and an additional $2.4 billion into research and technologies that focus on renewable energy and carbon capture.
National Science Foundation: $3 billion, which includes $2 billion towards expanding employment in fundamental science and engineering designed to meet environmental challenges and improve US economic competitiveness. Of the remainder, $100 million would go towards improving science education and $900 million would be dedicated to research infrastructure improvement.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration: $400 million for climate change science, including basic research and satellite sensors for monitoring climate change.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: $600 million for satellite development, including climate sensors and climate modeling.
Agricultural Research Service: $209 million for infrastructure improvement. The estimated price tag on facilities repairs for ARS is currently at $315 million.
United States Geological Survey: $200 million for repairing and modernizing climate monitoring systems and computing capacity.
Additionally science is getting much more indirect funding, largely through “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects which can provide an immediate infusion of funds into the economy. Some of these funds would be provided to the Environmental Protection Agency for Superfund site cleanup, the U.S. Forest Service for fire management and capital improvements, the National Park Service for maintenance, and US Geological Survey for facilities repair, mapping, and volcano monitoring.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was particularly proud of the focus on science in the stimulus legislation, and has noted that much of the bill is focused on developing clean and efficient energy and on transforming the economy through investments in science and technology. The legislation has not passed the House, yet. House leaders have said that they hope to have it before the full chamber for a vote by the end of January and on the President’s desk by mid-February. However, the Senate will have to pass the measure after the House and any differences between the measures addressed prior to it being sent to the President.
By unanimous consent, the Senate approved seven top Obama Administration officials in a brief post-inaugural session on 20 January 2009. Those approved were:
Not yet confirmed are U.S. EPA Administrator nominee Lisa Jackson, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman nominee Nancy Sutley, and Attorney General nominee Eric Holder, the vote on whom has been delayed by Senate Republicans until next week.
On Wednesday, 21 January, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nomination to serve as Secretary of State was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Although her nomination was initially stalled by Senator Cornyn (R-TX), he ultimately released his hold on the nomination to allow it to be considered by the full Senate. Ultimately, two Senators [Vitter (R-LA) and DeMint (R-SC)] opposed Clinton’s confirmation. On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee approved the nomination of Timothy F. Geithner as Secretary of Treasury. Geithner must still be approved by the Senate.
Although many of President Obama’s top nominees have moved quickly through the confirmation process, numerous top nominees are still working there way through the confirmation process. Additionally, on Thursday, 22 January, it Lisa Jackson - Obama’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency - has been stalled for politics. Jackson’s confirmation has been blocked by Wyoming Senator John Barrasso (R), who has expressed concerns over Obama’s plan to name Carol Browner as the White House energy czar. A representative for Barrasso explained to reporters that the Senator has concerns with the new structure of an energy and climate change advisory group within the White House. The Senator, who represents Dick Cheney’s home state, has expressed concerns about transparency over energy and climate policy deliberations in the new White House under Browner. Barrasso reportedly approached Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) with his concerns over Browner and asked her to help set up a meeting with Browner to discuss his concerns. The Barrasso spokesperson insisted that the Senator would not block a roll call vote over Jackson, but he wanted more time to vet Jackson, and meet with Browner.
On 18 January 2009, Dr. Cora Marrett was named Acting Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Marrett fills the post held by Dr. Kathie Olsen until a permanent replacement is named.
Dr. Marrett assumes the Acting Deputy Director post from her current spot as Assistant Director of the Education and Human Resources Directorate - a post she has held for the past two years. During her tenure, she has led NSF’s mission to achieve excellence in U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Dr. Marrett is a tenured faculty member of the University of Wisconsin, where she served as the senior vice president for academic affairs for six years. Dr. Marrett has also served as the first Assistant Director for NSF’s Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences from 1992-1996.
Dr. Marrett holds a B.A. degree from Virginia Union University, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from UW-Madison, all in sociology. She received an honorary doctorate from Wake Forest University in 1996, and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998 and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1996.
Other changes as NSF include the reassignment of Dr. Kathie Olsen, previously the Deputy Director of NSF, to the position of Senior Advisor in the Office of Information and Resource Management. In her new position, Dr. Olsen will advise the NSF’s Chief Human Capital Officer and will advise NSF senior management on opportunities for improvement in areas such as merit review and interdisciplinary research processes, workforce planning, and Program Officer training.
Mark Myers has resigned as Director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Myers served as the 14th Director of the USGS since his Senate confirmation two years ago. Suzette Kimball is serving as Acting Director of USGS.
Dr. Kimball was the Director of the Eastern Region in 2004 and became the Acting Associate Directory for Geology in 2008. Kimball joined the USGS as Eastern Regional Executive for Biology. In that position, she built many partnerships, helped shape programs, and led the establishment of the USGS Florida Integrated Science Center. She came to the USGS from the National Park Service in Atlanta, where she was Associate Regional Director.
She entered the National Park Service as a research coordinator in the Global Climate Change Program, became Southeast Regional Chief Scientist, then Associate Regional Director. She was assistant professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, co-director of the Center for Coastal Management and Policy and marine scientist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and managed coastal morphology and barrier island studies in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
She serves on executive boards and many State and national committees, including the Consortium for Coastal Restoration through Science & Technology, the Council of Examiners of the National Association of State Boards of Geology, and the DOI Senior Executive Service Advisory Council. She was on the board of directors of the Coastal Society and has served as secretary of the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Section.
She has authored numerous publications on barrier island dynamics, coastal ecosystem science, coastal zone management and policy, and natural resource exploration, evaluation and management. She has received the Presidential Rank Award and the Secretary of the Interior’s Meritorious Service Award.
Dr. Kimball has a doctorate in environmental sciences with a specialty in coastal processes from the University of Virginia, a master’s in geology and geophysics from Ball State University, and a bachelor’s in English and geology from the College of William & Mary.
In his resignation letter, Myers noted that he had asked to stay on as Director; however, he received no response from the incoming administration.
According to a recent memorandum from Myers to USGS employees, several senior leadership changes have been approved within the bureau’s senior science leadership team. The text of the memorandum states:
I am pleased to announce the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Executive Resources Board has approved several personnel actions that will fill vacancies within USGS executive leadership. These individuals bring great strength, knowledge and fresh perspectives and will further our efforts to carry out the vision of the USGS Science Strategy.
William Werkheiser has been selected as the Eastern Region Director. Bill has served in numerous positions in the USGS, most recently serving as the Acting Chief Scientist for Water. Some of his prior assignments have included Acting Associate Director for Geology, Acting Enterprise Publishing Network Manager, Acting Regional Executive for the Northeastern Water Programs, and the Director of the Pennsylvania Water Science Center. He also led the Hazards Initiative Team and the long-term Hurricane Katrina Response and Recovery Team for the USGS. Bill started his USGS career in 1986 as a hydrologist in the Delaware Water Science Center and has over 25 years of experience with USGS and other agencies working on a variety of environmental and scientific issues. Bill has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Bloomsburg University and a master’s degree in geology from the University of Massachusetts.
Stan Ponce has been selected as the Central Region Director. Stan has served in numerous positions in the USGS, most recently as Regional Executive for the South Central Area. Prior assignments have included Senior Advisor to the Director for Partnerships and Interagency Programs, Chief of Partnerships and External Coordination in the Geography and Geospatial Information Office, Senior Advisor to the Associate Director for the Geospatial Information Office, and Acting Regional Biologist for the Central Region. He has also worked for other Bureaus within the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service. Stan has over 25 years of experience in working on a variety of scientific research and management of land and water resources issues. He holds bachelor’s degrees in watershed science (Oregon State University) and forestry and natural resources (University of Missouri), and a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Utah State University. An Acting Regional Executive for the South Central Area will be announced shortly.
Kevin Gallagher has been reassigned to Associate Director for Geospatial Information and Chief Information Officer. Kevin has served in several positions since arriving at the USGS in 2002, including the Chief Technology Officer, the Acting Chief Information Officer, and most recently as the Deputy Associate Director for Geospatial Information. He has also held positions at the Department of Transportation and the Department of the Navy. Kevin has over 25 years of experience working with information technology systems and networks, telecommunications, and information technology security. Kevin received his bachelor’s degree in management information systems from James Madison University and his master’s degree in information resources management from Syracuse University.
Bryant Cramer has been reassigned to Associate Director for Geography. Bryant originally joined the USGS as the Executive Advisor for Land Imaging, helping us plan the transition of the Landsat Program from a series of independent single research missions to a truly operational satellite program. Prior to joining the USGS, Bryant worked for more than 30 years in numerous positions at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, including Goddard Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, Langley Research Center, and Headquarters. He has extensive experience in the development, launch, and management of earth science space missions. Bryant has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a Ph. D. in engineering from Northwestern University.
Ione Taylor has been reassigned to Chief Scientist for Geography. Ione originally joined the USGS in 1999 and has served in a variety of management positions including Chief Scientist for the Eastern Energy Resources Team, Deputy Regional Director for Eastern Region, Chief Scientist for Eastern Region and Acting Chief Scientist for Geography. Before coming to the USGS, Ione spent 14 years in the petroleum industry, starting as a geologist working on domestic and international hydrocarbon reservoir and risk evaluation, and subsequently holding various management positions. She has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Guilford College, and a master’s and Ph.D. in geology from the University of North Carolina.
The selection for the Chief Scientist for Water is pending OPM approval. For now, Earl Greene will serve as the Acting Chief Scientist.
I am also pleased to announce that we have selected Greg Withee as the new Senior Science Advisor for International Programs. This senior level position within the Office of the Associate Director for Geology is responsible for leading and coordinating all U.S. Federal activities in support of the country’s representation on the Group on Earth Observations and USGS activities associated with the International Consortium of Geological Surveys as well as overseeing all bureau-wide international programs. Greg comes to us from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) where he has served in numerous positions including Senior Advisor to the Administrator, Assistant Administrator and Deputy Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services and Director of the National Oceanographic Data Center. He has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Pomona College and a master’s in physical oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Linda Gundersen for serving as the Acting Eastern Region Director and David Applegate, Leslie Armstrong and Peter Lyttle as the Acting Central Region Director while we recruited for these positions.
Committee assignments are coming into place in the new 111th Congress. Last week subcommittee selections were completed for the House Appropriations Committee. Those subcommittees that oversee appropriations that may affect biological science research include the following three:
The members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment , and Related Agencies are Chairman Norman Dicks (D-WA), James Moran (D-VA), Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Ben Chandler (D-KY), Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY), John Olver (D-MA), Ed Pastor (D-AZ), David Price (D-NC), Dave Obey (D-WI), Ranking Member Mike Simpson (R-ID), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Steve LaTourette (R-OH), Tom Cole (R-OK), Jerry Lewis (R-CA).
The members for the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies are: Chairman Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Michael Honda (D-CA), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), C.A. Ruppersberger (D-MD), Adam Shiff (D-CA), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Peter Visclosky (D-IN), Ranking Member Frank Wolf (R-VA), Robert Alderholt (R-AL), Jo Bonner (R-AL), John Culberson (R-TX).
The members for the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies are: Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Allen Boyd (D-FL), Lincoln David (D-TN), Sam Farr (D-CA), Jess Jackson (D-IL), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Ranking Member Jack Kingston (R-GA), Rodney Alexander (R-LA), JoAnn Emerson (R-MI), Tom Latham (R-IA).
The following authorizing committees of the House of Representatives also have jurisdiction over aspects of science, environment, and health policy. The chairperson and ranking minority member for these committees are identified below.
Agriculture: Representative Tim Holden (D-PA) will chair and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) will serve as Ranking Member for the Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research.
Energy and Commerce Committee: Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) will serve as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. The Subcommittee on Health will be lead by Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Nathan Deal (R-GA).
Natural Resources Committee: The Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans will be chaired by Delegate Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) and Ranking Member Henry Brown (R-SC). The Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands will be lead by Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT). California’s Representative Grace Napolitano (D) will chair the Subcommittee on Water and Power, with Washington’s Cathy McMorrie Rogers serving as the ranking Republican member of the subcommittee.
Science and Technology Committee: Tennessee’s Bart Gordon (D) retained his post as Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology. Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) is the senior Republican on the Committee. The Subcommittee on Research and Science Education will be lead by Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA) and Ranking Member Vernon Ehlers (R-MI).
In the January 2009 issue of BioScience, Robert Gropp reports on the Obama transition and some of the potential implications for the nation’s science policy agenda. To read this and other columns for free, please go to http://www.aibs.org/washington-watch/. An excerpt from “Nothing Average About Change” follows:
On 4 November 2008, a long, expensive, and unprecedented general election finally concluded. By the next morning, one would have been hard-pressed to find a field biologist even in the most remote locale who had not learned of the historically significant election result: Barack Obama had been elected the nation’s 44th president. Yet the outcome of the presidential race was only part of the November news. A steadily worsening economy and significant election wins for Democratic candidates for the US House and Senate garnered headlines and refocused the nation’s political and public policy priorities.
As the economy continued its downturn after the November election, historians, political analysts, and other professional and amateur Washington, DC, pundits drew parallels between the conditions facing Barack Obama and those of the Great Depression era that occupied Franklin D. Roosevelt. Clearly, the combination of geopolitical instability (i.e., wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) and an economic recession presents great challenges to President-elect Obama and to the new 111th Congress, which must work to reach compromise on significant legislative initiatives while holding together a Democratic majority that is untested and susceptible to fragmentation on some issues.
To continue reading this article for free, visit http://www.aibs.org/washington-watch/washingtonwatch2009_01.html
For complete details, please go to http://www.aibs.org/classifieds/aibspositionsavailable.html#8005
The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit scientific association with individual and organizational members, seeks a Public Affairs Associate to join its energetic Public Policy Office. The successful applicant will work to develop and help advance science policy and media relations initiatives. Responsibilities will include working on legislative and regulatory policy issues, writing policy analyses for online and print publications, developing materials for policy and news briefings, helping to develop and implement the Public Policy Office’s policy advocacy/communications strategies, making public presentations, and representing AIBS in a variety of settings. Travel and occasional work on evenings, weekends, or holidays is required.
Represent AIBS and its members in the public policy arena to promote the use of scientific information in decisions pertaining to scientific research, education, and applications;
Monitor and report on policy developments in Washington, DC;
Draft public policy statements, background papers, press releases, white papers, reports to the membership, and other materials;
Cultivate and maintain working relationships with members of the scientific, policy, and media/communications fields;
Work collaboratively with AIBS staff, members, and others on public policy and media relations issues identified by the Director of Public Policy;
Provide planning and logistical assistance for science policy/media briefings and advocacy events; and
Conduct outreach initiatives for members, including workshops and other training sessions.
Compensation and Benefits: This is a full-time position in downtown Washington, DC. Salary is commensurate with experience. AIBS offers a competitive benefits package that includes a retirement plan, health and disability insurance, paid annual and sick leave, and paid holidays.
To Apply: Send a cover letter, resume, salary history and requirements, names and contact information of three professional references, and a writing sample (approx. 750 words) to publ…@aibs.org or via fax to 202-628-1509. Application review will begin immediately and continue until this position is filled.
The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS, www.aibs.org) is pleased to announce that applications are being accepted for the 2009 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award (EPPLA). The EPPLA program enables graduate students in the biological sciences to receive first-hand experience in the science policy arena.
A trip to Washington, DC, during spring 2009 to participate in a Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) Congressional Visits Day (target dates are 21-22 April 2009). The BESC CVD is an annual event that brings scientists to Washington, DC, to advocate for federal funding for the biological sciences.
The EPPLA will attend briefings by key officials from the White House and Congress and a Capitol Hill reception honoring a member of Congress.
The EPPLA will meet with their Representative and Senators.
A certificate and 1-year AIBS membership, including subscription to BioScience and a copy of Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media.
For application details and requirements, go to: http://www.aibs.org/announcements/081031aibsacceptingapplications2009.html Applications must be received by 5:00 PM eastern, 6 February 2009.
The American Society of Mammalogists (ASM) and the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) are pleased to announce the availability of an internship in the Washington, DC. AIBS Public Policy Office. The internship is open to ASM members who are currently enrolled in a graduate program and who are engaged in research that will contribute to our understanding and conservation of mammals. The internship is for 3 months during fall 2009, and carries a generous monthly stipend of $2000. Selection criteria include demonstrated interest in public policy process, strong communications skills, and excellent academic record.
The AIBS Public Policy Office focuses on science and science education public policy (e.g., federal R & D funding policy). Additional information about ASM and AIBS can be found on their respective websites (www.mammalsociety.org, www.aibs.org). The ASM-AIBS Public Policy Internship is an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in public policy at the national level. By working with the AIBS Public Policy Office, the intern will learn how scientific societies, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), executive branch agencies (e.g., NSF, USGS), and the legislative branch interact to craft science policy. Duties may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Letter of application describing applicant’s interest in science policy issues and detailing how this fellowship would enhance his/her professional goals. Applicant should include the names of two individuals other than their advisor from whom recommendations can be requested. These individuals should be able to address the candidate’s leadership, interpersonal, and communication skills.
A two-page resume that demonstrates the applicant’s leadership and communication experience. It should include the following items: education (including relevant law or policy courses), work experience, honors and awards, memberships, presentations, and publications.
A statement describing the importance of federal support for fundamental mammalian research (500 words maximum). The statement should draw on the applicant’s own experience and/or research area, and should illustrate how the applicant would try to convince his/her own congressional delegation to support federal research funding programs/agencies.
A letter of support/recommendation from academic advisor. Copies of transcripts from each college or university from which applicant received a degree and/or is currently enrolled. If selected, official transcripts may be required. Applicants are not required to be ASM members at the time of application but, if selected, must join the Society prior to starting the internship.
All application materials must be received by 1 May 2009 and should be sent to Dr. Alicia V. Linzey, Evaluation Committee Chair, 148 Double Brook Dr., Weaverville, NC 28787. Questions about the award can be addressed to Dr. Linzey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evolution, climate change, stem cell research — Scientists are frequently called upon to provide expert information on hot button issues that pervade the daily news headlines, yet most find themselves woefully unprepared for the bright lights of the television studio or leading questions from a newspaper journalist. A new publication from AIBS, “Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media,” by Holly Menninger and Robert Gropp in the Public Policy Office, will prepare scientists for successful and effective media interviews.
Recognizing that many scientists are reluctant to engage in media outreach, “Communicating Science” outlines compelling reasons for scientists to interact with the media and describes key differences between journalism and science that may not be apparent to practicing scientists. Step-by-step, Menninger and Gropp walk scientists through the entire interview process - from appropriate questions to ask when a reporter calls to practical advice for looking and sounding one’s best on-air or on-camera.
The information and advice in “Communicating Science” is presented in eight easy-to-read chapters that provide vital information for scientists new to media outreach, as well as a quick refresher for seasoned experts - an ideal text for a graduate course on science communication or a professional development course for students and faculty. The primer’s authors speak from their own experiences as PhD scientists in the biological sciences with years of experience in media outreach.
The concise, user-friendly volume has several unique features that set it apart from other media guides for scientists. “Communicating Science” includes first-person interviews with nearly a dozen scientists who have successfully navigated print, radio, and television interviews. The scientists-including the “Island Snake Lady,” Kristin Stanford, recently featured on the Discovery Channel show, “Dirty Jobs” - share advice and experiences on a number of topics, including safely speaking on behalf of an organization, avoiding trouble when discussing socially or politically controversial topics, and reflections on first interviews.
“Communicating Science” also provides worksheets to assist readers with interview preparation: building a message framework with talking points and transition phrases, developing analogies, and using illustrative props or images. It includes pages for readers to organize contact information of journalists with whom they have worked directly and those who have reported on stories related to their own research to keep as potential contacts for future story pitches.