November 1, 2005


The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and the Natural Science Collections (NSC) Alliance, each a major umbrella group for biological science organizations, have signed a strategic partnering agreement that will advance the public policy interests of biologists, natural science collections, and the research and education communities that utilize these facilities. The partnership provides a valuable bridge between the scientific research and education communities represented by AIBS and the NSC Alliance, as well as an opportunity for scientists in the fields of taxonomy, systematics, ecology, and evolutionary biology to work with AIBS and the NSC Alliance on public policy and advocacy goals in support of their science.

The partnership will give the NSC Alliance's 100-plus institutional members equivalent status in AIBS's membership rolls of scientific societies and other organizations, currently numbering approximately 90—thereby allowing NSC Alliance members to enjoy the institutional membership benefits of both organizations. Also under the agreement, AIBS director of public policy, Robert Gropp, will serve on a cross-appointment as director of public policy for the NSC Alliance. This arrangement provides the NSC Alliance with an experienced science policy professional to represent the organization's interests in Washington, DC, as well as the other resources offered by the AIBS Public Policy Office.

"Natural science collections form a foundation for much of comparative biology and provide a critical base for verification of many studies. Many of the fundamental issues faced by AIBS are also of interest to our members. Together we have a much greater chance of solving them," said NSC Alliance president Terry Yates.

In recent years, AIBS has been actively involved in collections-related policy issues. For instance, the public policy office's Washington Watch column in BioScience has helped raise awareness of the issues many university-based collections have faced in recent years. Moreover, AIBS is at the forefront of work being done in the area of biological research infrastructure planning.

The NSC Alliance has been active in advocating for the need to support the nation's biological collections as a vital national resource and to make the information contained in these collections available to the broader AIBS community to help solve societal problems.

"This is an excellent opportunity for the biological science and natural science collections-based research communities to leverage resources," said AIBS executive director Richard O'Grady. At a time when research budgets for fundamental biological research are at risk of becoming stagnant, or even backsliding, it is important for scientists to speak with a common and coordinated voice.

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