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Public Policy Report for 1 February 2010

Science Funding Up in President's FY 2011 Budget

President Obama released his $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal year (FY) 2011 on 1 February 2010. Despite the President’s promise to freeze non-military discretionary funding at FY 2010 levels, most federal science agencies could receive a spending boost next year. Overall, federal investments in research and development (R&D) would increase by 6.4 percent to more than $61 billion under the President’s budget. The National Science Foundation would receive $7.4 billion, 7.2 percent more than the agency received in FY 2010. Other science agencies would also receive healthy funding increases: 17.1 percent increase for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ($5.5 billion total), 4.4 percent increase for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science ($5.1 billion total), 3.9 percent increase for the National Institutes of Health ($32.1 billion total), 1.9 percent increase for the U.S. Geological Survey ($1.1 billion total), and 1.5 percent increase for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ($1.9 billion).

Stay tuned for more details and analysis of the President’s FY 2011 budget from the AIBS Public Policy Office in the coming days.

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House Science Committee to Reauthorize COMPETES Act

House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) has a busy agenda planned for 2010. Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act, reauthorization of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), creating a nuclear energy research and development program, spurring development of new energy technologies, and codifying the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are among the chairman’s ambitious goals for the second session of the 111th Congress.

Top legislative priority for the House Science Committee is reauthorization of the America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science) Act. Enacted in 2007, the law set a number of ambitious goals, including authorizing a doubling of the budgets of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DoE) Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) over seven years. Actual appropriations, however, have fallen well behind the authorized levels. The reauthorization will allow Congress to revisit the funding trajectories for these agencies, as well as the many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs included in COMPETES. The Act expanded early career research grant programs for young investigators and increased support for K-12 STEM education and teacher training programs at NSF and DoE.

Another bill on the Committee’s legislative agenda for 2010 is of interest to biologists: the NOAA Organic Act would formally authorize the agency in law. NOAA was created by Presidential executive order in 1970. By codifying the agency in law, Congress would have greater ability to direct the agency’s priorities and authorities. This issue is especially timely given NOAA’s central role in U.S. climate science and the Obama Administration’s interest in pursuing marine spatial planning.

The House Science Committee will be under a tight deadline to complete their legislative work. With the mid-term elections in November, any bills would need to be passed by the House and Senate prior to the Congressional recess in August.

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Attention Graduate Students: Deadline Approaching for 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/resources/EPPLAapplication-2010-announcement.pdf.

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

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AIBS Comments on Public Access to Scientific Literature

On 20 January 2010, the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) submitted comments to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy regarding public access to scientific publications. AIBS drew attention to recommendations from a recent report commissioned by the House Science and Technology Committee: “Report and Recommendations from the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable” called for flexibility in the public access policy. “A one-size-fits-all federal policy will disrupt and damage the publication process for many research communities…,” stated AIBS Executive Director, Dr. Richard O’Grady. These comments were submitted in response to a request for public comments to guide the development of a new federal policy on public access to scientific literature resulting from federally funded research. To read the AIBS letter, please visit http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20100120aibssubmits_co.html.

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Short Takes

  • The State Department is seeking U.S. experts to author or review the Fifth Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Nominations of experts from federal, academic, non-governmental, and private sector entities are due by 15 February 2010. More information is available at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-1098.htm.
  • The Department of Commerce is accepting nominations for its National Medal of Technology and Innovation, which honors innovators who have made an outstanding, lasting contribution to the economy through the promotion of technology. Nominations are being accepted through 31 March 2010. For more information, please visit http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-980.htm.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey has launched a new online tool to enhance access to information about life in the oceans. The Ocean Biodiversity Information System is a one-stop source for biogeographic data collected from U.S. waters. Users can search and download millions of individual records, which include descriptions of where and when the data was collected.

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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.

NEW IN BIOSCIENCE - “STIMULATING SCIENCE: ONE YEAR AFTER THE RECOVERY ACT”

In the February 2010 issue of BioScience, Julie Palakovich Carr reviews the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on American science and considers the implications for 2011, when the stimulus funding has been allocated. 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/.

A year ago, as the US economy was on the brink of meltdown, Congress and President Obama enacted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; PL 111-5). The $787-billion economic stimulus promised a new future for America, a future that not only brought economic growth and jobs but also addressed society’s most pressing issues: education, human health, infrastructure, and clean energy. The act included more than $24 billion for federal science programs, much of which was designated for research and development (R&D). These funds were intended to create or save jobs by directly supporting researchers and student fellows and spurring the manufacturing of scientific instrumentation and equipment, as well as initiating the repair and construction of research facilities. One year later, stimulus funds have been used to address a backlog of scientific needs and to usher in a new age of science. The question now, however, is what will happen to our scientific enterprise in 2011, when the ARRA funds have been spent?

To continue reading this article for free, visit http://www.aibs.org/washington-watch/washingtonwatch2010_02.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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