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Public Policy Report for 4 January 2010

United States Predicted to Remain Top Funder of R&D, For Now

Despite the recession, things are looking up for the research and development (R&D) side of science. According to a new report published in R&D Magazine, funding forecasts indicate that U.S. investments in science will grow by 3.3 percent to $402 billion in 2010. Globally, R&D spending is estimated to increase by 4.0 percent to $1.2 trillion next year.

The United States remains the largest investor in R&D. However, Asian nations are increasing their support at a more rapid pace, with 7.5 percent growth in the region last year. China and India are increasing their spending at rates of 14.3 and 18.5 percent, respectively. At this pace, China will surpass Japan as the world’s second largest funder of R&D in the coming year. The report, produced by Battelle, a non-profit research company, demonstrates the importance of the $21 billion for science included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Without this investment of stimulus funds, U.S. research spending in 2009 would have fallen below the 2008 level.

To read the report, “Emerging Economies Drive Global R&D Growth,” published in R&D Magazine, please visit http://www.rdmag.com/tags/publications/global-r-and-d-funding-forecast.

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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 and science policy. To learn more about the application process and the Award, please visit http://www.aibs.org/public-policy/student_opportunities.html.

Applications are due by 5 pm EST on 5 February 2010.

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AIBS Webinar Helps Students, Young Professionals Explore Careers in Science Policy

On 21 December 2009, the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) held an online webinar program to provide information to students and early-career professionals interested in learning more about careers in science policy.

The keynote presentation by Dr. Robert Gropp, Director of Public Policy at AIBS, provided participants with information on the pros and cons of a career in science policy, and the knowledge, skills, and experiences that are required to successfully pursue a career in science policy or public affairs. The program also featured a panel discussion with three scientists who have successfully transitioned to a policy career. Panelists shared their diverse career paths and information on how to make the career transition from research to public policy. Panelists included Dr. Holly Menninger of the New York Invasive Species Research Institute, Ms. Julie Palakovich Carr of AIBS, and Dr. Caroline Ridley of the Environmental Protection Agency.

For those who did not participate in the webinar, AIBS offers several books that may be of interest, including "Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media" and "Guide to Nontraditional Careers in Science." These and other titles may be ordered at http://webstore.aibs.org/.

The AIBS Public Policy Office is able to present a version of this program for academic departments. To learn more about this or other AIBS workshops and training programs, please contact Robert Gropp at 202-628-1500 x 250.

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Thank Congress for Increased Funding

After months of debate, Congress passed legislation in December that will increase fiscal year (FY) 2010 funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Please let your Senators and Representative know how much the scientific community appreciates their efforts to provide essential new research funding. Visit the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) Legislative Action Center at http://capwiz.com/aibs/issues/alert/?alertid=14501286 to send a prepared thank you note to your members of Congress.

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New Plant Species Discovered in Botanic Garden

A recent article in the United Kingdom newspaper, The Guardian, highlights the importance of botanic garden plant collections to science and conservation. The report describes how a botanist at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in West London discovered a new plant species during a lunchtime stroll through the Princess of Wales Conservatory. The new species, now named Isoglossa variegata, was donated to Kew by Swedish botanists following an expedition to the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania in the 1990s. Kew gardeners had been using the plants as tropical bedding for over a decade, unaware that this was an undescribed species. The plant is among more than 250 new species discovered by the gardens’ botanists in the past year.

To read the article, please go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/dec/22/kew-gardens-new-plant-species.

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Short Takes

  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has extended the deadline for public comments on its proposed policy of expanding public access to publications resulting from federally funded research. Comments will be accepted through 21 January 2010. For more information, please visit http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-29322.htm.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comments on a draft document entitled “An Assessment of Decision-Making Processes: The Feasibility of Incorporating Climate Change Information into Land Protection Planning.” This document reviews best practices of land planning organizations in planning for the impacts of climate change on protected lands and assesses the feasibility of incorporating climate change impacts information into the evaluation of these programs. Comments are being accepted through 1 February 2010. For more information, please visit http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-31100.htm.

  • In 2008, the Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) conducted an online survey to assess how scientific collections were responding to worsening economic conditions. The complete findings of this survey have now been published in the online CLS Journal of Museum Studies. The publication includes the survey results and possible actions for scientific collections and policymakers. This publication and other information about scientific collections are available online at www.nscalliance.org.

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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 in the AIBS Webstore.

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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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