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Public Policy Report for 7 December 2009

AIBS Webinar to Help Students, Young Professionals Explore Careers in Science Policy

Are you a student or early-career professional interested in a non-academic science career? Have you ever thought that a career in science policy or public affairs might be right for you? If so, an upcoming webinar hosted by the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) could help you consider your options.

A growing number of individuals are interested in employment that allows them to apply their scientific skills and training to the resolution of societal problems. Whether an individual's interests are in education, health, environment, or the nation's investment in scientific research, a public policy career is one way that scientists can convert their education into action.

This program is intended to help individuals better understand the pros and cons of a career in science policy, and the knowledge, skills and experiences that are required to be successful in science policy and public affairs.

This program will:

- Provide information about employment options in science policy/public affairs;

- Provide tips to help interested students and early career professionals develop the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the policy/public affairs sector; and,

- Help individuals evaluate whether this career path is right for them.

See http://www.aibs.org/events/webinar/science-careers.html for information and registration.

Registration is required.

Event Date: Monday, December 21, 2009 2:00 - 3:30 PM, Eastern Standard Time

Cost:

- $19.95, Webinar only

- $38.95, Webinar, 1 copy of the AIBS publication Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media (price includes shipping and handling)

- $44.90, Webinar, 1 copy of Communicating Science and 1 copy of the AIBS Congressional Directory (price includes shipping and handling)

- $44.90, Webinar, 1 copy of the book Nontraditional Careers

Exclusive AIBS career and communication packet - $69.40, Webinar, 1 copy of Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media, 1 copy of the AIBS Congressional Directory, and 1 copy of the book Nontraditional Careers in Science

Presenters:

Keynote: "So, you want to work in science policy?" Dr. Robert Gropp, Director of Public Policy, American Institute of Biological Sciences

Panelists:

Ms. Julie Palakovich Carr, Public Policy Associate, American Institute of Biological Sciences

Dr. Holly Menninger, Coordinator, New York Invasive Species Research Institute

Dr. Caroline Ridley, S&T Policy Fellow, United States Environmental Protection Agency

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New Presidential Bioethics Council to Take Policy-Based Approach

On 24 November 2009, President Obama announced the establishment of a new presidential council to advise him on bioethical matters, replacing the sometimes-controversial bioethics council that advised President George W. Bush.

The council under the Bush Administration was designed to be a “philosophically-leaning advisory group” and tended to focus on ideological issues, like the moral implications of biomedical technology, and the consequences of limiting scientific research. The Obama adminstrations’ new 13-member commission is chaired by Amy Gutmann, a political scientist, and the president of the University of Pennsylvania. The new council is widely expected to be more policy-oriented than its predecessor, and will tackle policy issues on intellectual property, the application of neuro- and robotic sciences, health care, and conflicts of interest in scientific research.

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Upcoming Webcast on Reporting Requirements for Stimulus Funds

On 10 December 2009, the U.S. Chief Financial Officers Council, a division of the federal government, will host a webcast for stakeholders regarding reporting requirements for grants funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The live webcast will be held from 2-3:30 pm. The event will provide a general overview of Recovery Act reporting as well as information to help grantees report accurately. There will also be time for questions and answers. To learn more or to view the webcast, please visit http://www.GPC.gov.

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Attention Graduate Students: AIBS Accepting 2010 EPPLA Applications

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is pleased to announce that applications for the 2010 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award (EPPLA) are now being accepted. This award recognizes graduate students in the biological sciences who have demonstrated initiative and leadership in science policy. EPPLA recipients receive first-hand experience at the interface of science and public policy.

Application requirements and details are at http://www.aibs.org/public-policy/student_opportunities.html.

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AIBS Writes to Senators about Scientific Integrity in Health Care Reform

On 30 November 2009, the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) wrote to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), and Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) about a provision in the health care reform bill that could have negative ramifications for scientific research on comparative effectiveness of medical treatments. The letter calls for the removal of language from Section 6301 of HR 3590 that could require that research findings funded by a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute be reviewed and approved by an administrative process prior to submission for scientific peer-review and publication. If the administrative review finds that the research under review is not “within the bounds of and entirely consistent with the evidence and findings produced under the contract with the Institute”, the researcher would be suspended from receiving further funding for no less than five years. To read the letter, please visit http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20091130healthcare_reform.html. To send a letter to your Senators about this issue, please visit http://capwiz.com/aibs/issues/alert/?alertid=14425646.

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Short Takes

  • An Irish politician with no experience in science is set to become Europe’s new research policy chief. On 27 November 2009, the European Commission President announced the nomination of Maire Geoghegan-Quinn as the E.U.’s new commissioner for research and innovation. Geoghegan-Quinn was previously a member of the lower house of the Irish parliament, the minister of justice, and most recently, has been the Irish representative on the Court of Auditors; however, she does not have a scientific education and has no experience in science policy. The Irish Times reported that the President’s plan to have at least nine women on his commission played a role in her nomination.

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has approved the first 13 lines of human embryonic stem cells as eligible for federal funding under the Executive Order issued by President Obama in March. The order replaced guidelines issued by President Bush, which restricted federal research funding to 21 stem cell lines created before 9 August 2001.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of seven final reports by federal agencies for restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and requests public comment. The reports were prepared pursuant to the May 2009 Executive Order on Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration, which requires that a draft strategy be published for public review and comments. The draft strategy was made available on 9 November 2008 and comments on the seven final reports must be submitted by 8 January 2010. For full details see: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-28974.htm.

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is providing nearly $650,000 in grants to protect 30 critically endangered species around the world. The 24 grants will help to address the spread of a deadly fungus affecting amphibians, the protection of Siberian cranes and Ethiopian wolves, and the conservation of 9 species of reptiles. “We have a shared responsibility to help safeguard our planet’s remarkable biodiversity,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

  • The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis is offering 50-60 paid research fellowships in the summer of 2010 for graduate students studying natural or social sciences, math, policy, or engineering. The Institute, located outside of Vienna, Austria is an international collaboration whose research informs energy, natural resource, and population policy. The application deadline is 18 January 2010. For more information, please visit http://www.iiasa.ac.at/yssp/register/.

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In the AIBS Webstore

“COMMUNICATING SCIENCE: A PRIMER FOR WORKING WITH THE MEDIA”

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.

“Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media” is available now at http://webstore.aibs.org/Communicating-Science-A-Primer-for-Working/M/B002R1REPE.htm

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New in BioScience - "A Research and Education Agenda for Biology?"

In the December 2009 issue of BioScience, Robert Gropp writes about two new reports, and a growing call within the biological science community to develop disciplinary research while improving interdisciplinary communication. An excerpt from the article follows, but the complete article (along with prior Washington Watch columns) may be viewed for free at http://www.aibs.org/washington-watch/washingtonwatch2009_12.html.

For some time, biologists have argued that a greater federal investment in biological research and education is required to move science forward and solve urgent societal problems. Arguably, this call has been heard, but a response has been muted by the lack of a clear articulation of need from the scientific community. However, recent efforts from within the community suggest that biologists might be attempting to define plans that will advance science and solve real-world problems. “Plants are central to the future of scientific discovery, human well-being, and the sustainable use and preservation of the world’s natural resources,” says Andrea Kramer, executive director of the US Office of Botanical Gardens Conservation International.
Yet, Kramer and others warn that federal agencies have failed to make investments in research and training that will drive discovery and inform decision-making. Kramer and colleagues recently convened academic scientists, government managers, and representatives from non-governmental organizations. The meeting, held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, assessed the nation’s botanical capacity.

To continue reading this article for free, visit http://www.aibs.org/washington-watch/washingtonwatch2009_12.html.

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Become an Advocate for Science: Join the AIBS Legislative Action Center

Quick, free, easy, effective, impactful! Join the AIBS Legislative Action Center today!

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) has launched the AIBS Legislative Action Center. The online resource allows biologists and science educators to quickly and effectively influence policy and public opinion. The AIBS Legislative Action Center is located at www.aibs.org/public-policy/legislativeactioncenter.html.

This new tool is made possible through contributions from the Society for the Study of Evolution, American Society for Limnology and Oceanography, Association of Ecosystem Research Centers, and the Botanical Society of America.

Each day lawmakers must make tough decisions about science policy. For example, what investments to make in federal research programs, biodiversity conservation, how to mitigate climate change, or under what circumstances to permit stem cell research. Scientists now have the opportunity to help elected officials understand these issues.

This exciting new advocacy tool allows individuals to quickly and easily communicate with members of Congress, executive branch officials, and selected media outlets.

AIBS and our partner organizations invite scientists and science educators to become a policy advocate today. Simply go to http://capwiz.com/aibs/home/ to send a prepared letter or to sign up to receive periodic Action Alerts.

For additional information about the AIBS Legislative Action Center, please visit http://www.aibs.org/public-policy/legislativeactioncenter.html. To further help AIBS advance biology and science education, consider joining AIBS. To learn about other membership benefits and to join AIBS online, please visit www.aibs.org.

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