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Public Policy Report for 22 November 2010

AIBS, Member Societies Ask Congress to Pass FY 2011 Science Appropriations

On 17 November 2010, the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and nine AIBS member organizations sent letters to the Chairmen and Ranking Republican Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees requesting that Congress pass a fiscal year 2011 appropriations bill that would provide the National Science Foundation (NSF) with $7.424 billion. This funding level has been endorsed by President Obama and the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over NSF’s budget.

Congress has yet to finalize any of the twelve spending bills required to fund the government in fiscal year 2011, which began on 1 October 2010. Congress passed a Continuing Resolution in September that maintains the fiscal year 2010 level of funding for agencies until early December.

Organizations signing the letters included: American Institute of Biological Sciences, American Ornithologists’ Union, Botanical Society of America, Long Term Ecological Research Network Office, Mycological Society of America, National Association of Biology Teachers, Natural Science Collections Alliance, Organization of Biological Field Stations, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry of North America, and Society of Systematic Biologists.

To read the letter, visit http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20101117nsffunding.html. Individuals can also contact their members of Congress about the need to fund science in the coming year or to share other concerns via the AIBS Legislative Action Center at http://capwiz.com/aibs/home/.

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Attention Graduate Students: Apply for the 2011 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) Public Policy Office is pleased to announce that applications are being accepted for the 2011 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award (EPPLA). This award recognizes graduate students in the biological sciences and science education who have demonstrated initiative and leadership in science policy. EPPLA recipients receive first-hand experience at the interface of science and public policy. The 2011 winners will receive an expense paid trip to Washington, DC to participate in meetings with their congressional delegation, training and information on the federal budget and appropriations process, a certificate and 1-year AIBS membership, a complimentary 1-year subscription to BioScience, and a copy of Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media.

Application information and deadlines are available at http://www.aibs.org/public-policy/student_opportunities.html.

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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 and 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/non-academic-careers-science-policy.html for information and registration.

Registration is required.

Event Date: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 2:00 - 3:30 PM, Eastern Standard Time

Cost:

  • $22.50, Webinar only
  • $39.45, Webinar, 1 copy of the AIBS publication Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media (price includes shipping and handling)
  • $51.45, Webinar and 1 copy of the book Guide to Nontraditional Careers in Science (price includes shipping and handling)
  • $57.99, Webinar, 1 copy of the AIBS publication Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media and 1 copy of the book Guide to Nontraditional Careers (price includes shipping and handling)

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Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation Increases Science Policy Efforts

The Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) is the latest scientific organization to join with AIBS to advance the nation’s science policy. On 19 November 2010, CERF became the newest Participant-level contributor to the AIBS Public Policy Office. Among other benefits of contributing to the AIBS Public Policy Office, CERF will receive assistance planning a congressional science briefing for the new 112th Congress.

CERF joins a growing group of leading scientific societies and organizations working in collaboration with AIBS to provide policymakers with timely scientific information. For information about how your organization can benefit from AIBS policy programs and services, please visit http://www.aibs.org/public-policy/.

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AIBS Writes to Interior Officials Regarding Scientific Integrity

On 19 November, AIBS wrote to Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, and Michael Bromwich, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), regarding a new policy that requires all presentations authored by BOEMRE employees to be reviewed by public affairs personnel prior to public release. The policy applies to both technical and non-technical presentations.

AIBS strongly encouraged BOEMRE to clarify its internal review policy for presentations to ensure that science is not subverted. “Without clarification, this policy could lead to violations of the Interior-wide policy on scientific integrity,” stated the letter. Specifically, the review policy could lead to the suppression of science or interfere with the ability of agency scientists to participate in the activities of scientific and professional societies, both of which are protected under the Interior-wide policy.

Secretary Salazar issued a department-wide policy on scientific integrity in late September 2010. Salazar’s directive requires Interior bureaus and employees ensure the integrity of science and technical products developed and used by the department, including providing the public access to Interior’s research.

To read the letter, visit http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20101119boemrescientific_integrity.html.

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Governors and Science Experts Partner to Build STEM Agendas in States

The National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices has formed a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Advisory Committee to help states develop comprehensive STEM agendas. The advisory committee is comprised of experts from education, policy, and business and will advance the association’s STEM agenda on K-12 and higher education, and inform the development of a national STEM meeting hosted by the NGA Center for Best Practices in the fall of 2011. For more information about NGA’s STEM education efforts, visit http://www.nga.org/center/edu.

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Some Progress for Science Education in Louisiana

According to recent reports from the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) and the Associated Press, advocates for science education have won a recent skirmish in the battle for evolution education in Louisiana. Recently, the Textbook/Media/Library Advisory Council for the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 8-4 to recommend textbooks that include evolution. The full board must still approve the new textbooks, which could happen during its meeting on 7-9 December 2010.

Despite this victory, science education advocates in Louisiana continue to work to fend off efforts to introduce creationist and other pseudo-scientific content into the science curricula through the Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008.

Additional information about developments in Louisiana is available online from the National Center for Science Education (http://ncse.com/news/louisiana).

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Now in BioScience: Major Changes in Congress May Mean Major Changes for Science Policy

In the November 2010 issue of the journal BioScience, Julie Palakovich Carr reports on the potential impacts of retirements of key Congressional policymakers on science policy. An excerpt from the article, “Major Changes in Congress May Mean Major Changes for Science Policy,” follows:

This month, voters across the nation will head to the polls for the midterm elections. Regardless of the final results, the departure of several long-standing science and education advocates will most likely change the way science is viewed in the 112th Congress.

“The retirements of champions of science, such as Representatives Brian Baird, Bart Gordon, Vern Ehlers, and Dave Obey and the defeats of Senator Arlen Specter and Rep. Alan Mollohan [in primary elections earlier this year] mean the loss of considerable support for science in the Congress,” warned Howard J. Silver, executive director of the Consortium of Social Science Associations, in an e-mail interview.

To read the entire article for free, please visit http://www.aibs.org/washington-watch/washingtonwatch2010_11.html.

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In the AIBS Webstore

“Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media,” will prepare scientists for successful and effective media interviews.

Whether you are new to media outreach or just in a need of a media refresher, “Communicating Science” offers advice, case studies, and training exercises to prepare scientists for print, radio, and television interviews. 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. “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.

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

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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! (www.aibs.org/public-policy/legislative_action_center.html)

The AIBS Legislative Action Center is an online resource that allows biologists and science educators to quickly and effectively influence policy and public opinion. Each day lawmakers must make tough decisions about science policy. For example, what investments to make in federal research programs, how to conserve biodiversity, 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.

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.

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.

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