The Public Policy Report has been released. The report provides analysis and communication on important issues in the scientific community.
In this issue:
- Alondra Nelson Departs OSTP
- Survey Shows Bipartisan Support for Federal Investment in Science
- Republican Lawmakers, Governors Push Back Against New WOTUS Rule
- NSF Releases Diversity in STEM Report
- House Science, Natural Resources Committees Finalize Leadership
- Webinar Series: Envisioning an Action Center on Biological Collections
- Help Inform Science Policy: Participate in the 2023 AIBS Congressional Visits Day
- The Need for a Specimen Management Plan Requirement: Webinar Recording Available, Input Sought
- Biden Touts Legislative Victories in State of the Union Address
- Call for Nominations: National Medal of Science
- EPA Seeks Nominations for Science Advisory Board
- From the Federal Register
The AIBS Public Policy Report is distributed broadly by email every two weeks. Any interested party may self-subscribe to receive these free reports by email.
With proper attribution to AIBS, all material from these reports may be reproduced or forwarded. AIBS staff appreciates receiving copies of materials used. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact the AIBS Director of Public Policy, Jyotsna Pandey, at 202-628-1500 x 225.
Alondra Nelson Departs OSTP
Dr. Alondra Nelson, who has served as Deputy Director for Science and Society at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) since 2021, stepped down from her role on Friday.
Nelson became the first woman of color to lead the OSTP as Acting Director after Dr. Eric Lander resigned as Director last February following allegations of bullying. She led the office for 8 months, until the current director, Dr. Arati Prabhakar, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
During her time at OSTP, Nelson led efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences. “It was an honor to be asked at a critical moment for our nation to build a team that considers the social implications of science and technology more centrally in U.S. policy, as a necessary component of American innovation,” stated Nelson. She also led initiatives on artificial intelligence, strengthening federal scientific integrity policies, and making tax-payer funded research available to the public.
Nelson, a sociologist, will return to her previously held faculty position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
In addition to Nelson’s post, a number of other leadership positions are currently vacant at the OSTP, including the Deputy Directors for National Security and Health and Life Sciences, as well as the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.
Survey Shows Bipartisan Support for Federal Investment in Science
According to a recent survey commissioned by Research! America, Americans across the political spectrum agree that federal investments in research and development (R&D) drive job creation, innovation, and global leadership.
A large majority of Americans, about 91 percent, think it is important for the U.S. to be a global leader in science and technology (S&T). About 77 percent of Americans are concerned that China will surpass the U.S. as the global S&T leader, with 6 in 10 Americans agreeing that Congress should invest more taxpayer dollars to advance S&T.
Notably, more than 8 in 10 Americans, including 92 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Republicans, and 76 percent of independents, think that the federal government should support basic research.
The survey also found that 63 percent of Americans are willing to pay $1 dollar more per week in taxes in support of medical and health research. More than 3 in 4 Americans agree that R&D investments are creating job opportunities for people across the country.
Another interesting finding was that public confidence in scientists and healthcare providers is very high overall, with nurses (89 percent), doctors (87 percent), and scientists (78 percent) ranked as the three most trusted professions—each up 8 to 10 points over 2022. On the other hand, confidence in research institutions has dropped 9 points from 76 to 67 percent.
Republican Lawmakers, Governors Push Back Against New WOTUS Rule
Congressional Republicans have introduced a resolution to overturn the Biden Administration’s recent Clean Water Act rulemaking. The resolution, led by Senate Environment and Public Works Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Sam Graves (R-MO), would repeal the Biden Administration’s waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) definition, which determines which waterways and wetlands fall under federal protection. Republicans argue that the rulemaking amounts to federal overreach that will burden businesses and farmers.
In addition, 25 Republican governors are urging the Administration to delay the implementation of the new rule until the Supreme Court issues a ruling in the related Sackett vs. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) case. In a letter to Biden, the governors wrote, “To change the rule multiple times in six months is an inefficient and wasteful use of State and federal resources and will impose an unnecessary strain on farmers, builders, and every other impacted sector of the American economy.” AIBS and 11 other societies weighed in on the Supreme Course case with an amici curiae brief last June.
The rule in question was finalized by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers in December of last year and is set to go into effect on March 20, 2023. It largely revives the definition of WOTUS from the Reagan-era and updates it to reflect the agencies’ technical expertise and the limits placed on federal jurisdiction by the Supreme Court during the intervening years.
Under the new rule, large waterways, like interstate rivers and streams and wetlands that are “adjacent” to them, would be federally protected. Wetlands would be considered adjacent if they are connected to the larger waterways with “relatively permanent” surface water connections, or if they have a “significant” hydrologic or ecological “nexus” to those protected tributaries.
“The Supreme Court could very much send the administration back to the drawing board,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Chair David Rouzer (R-NC) at a recent hearing on the matter. He argued that the new definition is “ultimately creating more confusion and uncertainty.”
NSF Releases Diversity in STEM Report
The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) recently released their Diversity and STEM: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities 2023 report, which presents the federal government’s most comprehensive analysis of diversity trends in STEM employment and education.
The report, published every 2 years, provides statistical information about three groups—women, minorities, and persons with disabilities—who have been historically underrepresented in STEM.
The latest iteration shows more women, as well as Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska Native people collectively, worked in STEM jobs over the past decade and are earning more degrees in science and engineering fields at all levels compared to previous years. However, those groups, as well as people with disabilities, largely still remain underrepresented in STEM compared to their overall distribution in the U.S. population.
According to the report, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of the U.S. workforce—34.9 million people ages 18 to 74—was employed in STEM occupations in 2021, up 20 percent from 2011. It found that the STEM workforce has been gradually diversifying. Underrepresented minorities made up nearly a quarter (24 percent) of the STEM workforce in 2021, up from 18 percent in 2011. Representation of women increased from 32 percent in 2011 to 35 percent in 2021.
STEM workers have higher median earnings and lower unemployment rates than non-STEM workers, the report found. However, Hispanic, Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native STEM workers have lower median earnings than white or Asian STEM workers. While women earned half of science and engineering bachelor's degrees and associates degrees, they represented a third of the STEM workforce, and their wages were consistently lower than men's.
Additional highlights from the report can be found here.
House Science, Natural Resources Committees Finalize Leadership
The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has jurisdiction over many non-defense federal R&D programs. This includes the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), federal energy laboratories and the Department of Energy Office of Science, marine research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), environmental R&D at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and science scholarships. Subcommittee leadership for science panel have now been solidified for the 118th Congress:
- Representative Mike Collins (R-GA) will chair the Subcommittee on Research and Technology, while Representative Haley Stevens (D-MI) will remain the top Democrat.
- Representative Max Miller (R-OH), an aide to former President Donald Trump, will helm the Subcommittee on Environment and Representative Deborah Ross (D-NC) will serve as its Ranking Member.
- The Subcommittee on Energy will be chaired by Representative Brandon Williams (R-NY), with Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) serving as Ranking Member.
- The Subcommittee on Space will be chaired by Representative Brian Babin (R-TX), with Representative Eric Sorensen (D-IL) serving as the Ranking Democrat.
- For the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Representative Jay Obernolte (R-CA) will serve as Chairman, while Representative Valerie Foushee (D-NC) will serve as Ranking Member.
Similarly, subcommittee leadership has also been finalized for the House Committee on Natural Resources that has jurisdiction over most of the Department of the Interior, including the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), National Park Service (NPS), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM):
- Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources: Chairman Pete Stauber (R-MN) and Ranking Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)
- Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: Chairman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Ranking Member Melanie Stansbury (D-NM)
- Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries: Chairman Cliff Bentz (R-OR) and Ranking Member Jared Huffman (D-CA)
- Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs: Chairwoman Harriet Hageman (R-WY) and Ranking Member Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM)
- Subcommittee on Federal Lands: Chairman Tom Tiffany (R-WI) and Ranking Member Joe Neguse (D-CO)
Republicans, who are now in majority in the House, modified some of the subcommittee names, including adding fisheries to the water panel, removing national parks and forests from the federal lands panel, and renaming the Subcommittee on the Indigenous Peoples of the United States to the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs.
Webinar Series: Envisioning an Action Center on Biological Collections
AIBS member iDigBio is organizing a 3-part webinar series, on March 7, 14, and 21, 2023 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time, focused on Envisioning a Biological Collections Action Center, as proposed in the 2020 National Academies’ report on biological collections and as supported by the CHIPS and Science Act.
The first two webinars on March 7 and 14 will feature co-authors of the National Academies’ report, including Pam Soltis, Andy Bentley, Joe Cook, Scott Edwards, Talia Karim, Shirley Pomponi, and Barbara Thiers, sharing their personal visions for the Action Center. The third webinar on March 21 will feature Scott Miller (Smithsonian Institution), Kevin Hackett (USDA), and Diane DiEuliis (National Defense University) from the Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections (IWGSC), Jyotsna Pandey (AIBS), and Breda Zimkus (Biodiversity Collections Network, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology).
Register here for all three webinars.
Help Inform Science Policy: Participate in the 2023 AIBS Congressional Visits Day
Join the American Institute of Biological Sciences on April 24-26, 2023 for our annual Congressional Visits Day in Washington, DC. We are going back to the in-person format in 2023 after holding this event virtually in 2021 and 2022.
Meet with your members of Congress to help them understand the important role the federal government plays in supporting the biological sciences. Advocate for federal investments in biological sciences research supported by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies.
Participants will complete a communications and advocacy training program provided by AIBS that prepares them to be effective advocates for their science. AIBS will provide participants with background information and materials, as well as arrange meetings with lawmakers on April 26.
Who should participate?
Scientists, graduate students, educators, or other science community members who are interested in advocating for scientific research and education are encouraged to participate in this important event.
The ideal participant will:
- Have an interest in science policy.
- Work in a scientific profession or be enrolled in graduate school.
- Be able to speak about the importance of biological research funded by federal agencies (e.g. NSF, NIH, USDA).
- Provide compelling examples from their own experiences.
The event includes a free, half-day training session on how to be an effective advocate for science policy. This training session will be held on April 25, 2023 and is mandatory for everyone who will be participating in congressional meetings.
Additionally, participants have the option to attend the highly acclaimed AIBS Communications Boot Camp for Scientists. This training course will be held in Washington, DC on April 24-25, 2023. This professional development program provides practical instruction and interactive exercises designed to help scientists (e.g. researchers, graduate students, administrators, educators) translate scientific information for non-technical audiences and to effectively engage with decision-makers and the news media. All participants who complete this optional training will receive priority access to the Congressional Visits Day and a certificate of completion indicating that they have successfully completed 16 hours of communications training. Click here for more information, including cost, for this two-day training program.
Express your interest in participating in the event by registering. Registration closes on March 13, 2023. Space is limited and we encourage you to register early. If registrations exceed program capacity, AIBS may prioritize registrants based on participation in the boot camp training, geographic diversity, and other factors. Register now.
The Need for a Specimen Management Plan Requirement: Webinar Recording Available, Input Sought
Representatives from the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) and the U.S. Culture Collection Network (USCCN), in partnership with AIBS and the Natural Science Collections Alliance, held a webinar on February 7 on the need for a Specimen Management Plan requirement in research proposals that generate living or preserved specimens. Recommended by the National Academies’ report on biological collections in 2020, this requirement was supported by the recently enacted CHIPS and Science Act. Webinar panelists discussed the elements of a specimen management plan and its benefits to various stakeholder communities.
Additionally, the webinar organizers are soliciting feedback on the webinar and their proposal regarding implementation of the specimen management plan requirement. They would like to hear from a wide range of stakeholders in the research, collections, and policy communities. Please fill out this survey by March 10, 2023 to share your thoughts.
- During his State of the Union address on February 7, President Biden touted the passage of three major pieces of legislation during his first two years in office, namely the Inflation Reduction Act, the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law, and the CHIPS and Science Act. All three bills included several science and environmental provisions of note. Biden called these legislative successes signs that the federal government is finally “stepping up” to address the nonpartisan issue of climate change, while also creating manufacturing jobs.
- The National Science Foundation is accepting nominations for the National Medal of Science—the highest recognition the nation can bestow on scientists and engineers. The presidential award is given to individuals deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, or social and behavioral sciences, in service to the Nation. The deadline to submit nominations is May 26, 2023.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking nominations of scientific experts to be considered for appointment to the Science Advisory Board. The board provides independent scientific and technical peer review, consultation, advice, and recommendations to the EPA Administrator on the scientific bases for the agency’s actions and programs. Nominations are due March 2, 2023.
From the Federal Register
The following items appeared in the Federal Register from January 30 to February 10, 2023.
- East Coast Fisheries of the United States; Public Meeting
- Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
- Public Meeting of the National Sea Grant Advisory Board
Environmental Protection Agency
Health and Human Services
- National Cancer Institute; Notice of Meeting
- Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health; Notice of Meeting
- Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting; Establishment of a Public Docket; Request for Comments
- Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Findings for Three Petitions To Delist the Grizzly Bear in the Lower-48 States
National Science Foundation
- Give your society or organization a voice in public policy. Join AIBS today.
- Become an advocate for science, visit the AIBS Legislative Action Center.
The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a non-profit 501(c)3 public charity organization that advances the biological sciences for the benefit of science and society. AIBS works with like-minded organizations, funding agencies, and political entities to promote the use of science to inform decision-making. The organization does this by providing peer-reviewed or vetted information about the biology field and profession and by catalyzing action through building the capacity and the leadership of the community to address matters of common concern.
Founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences, AIBS became an independent, member-governed organization in the 1950s. Today, AIBS has more than 100 member organizations and has a Public Policy Office in Washington, DC. Its staff members work to achieve its mission by publishing the peer-reviewed journal BioScience, by providing scientific peer-review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients, and by collaborating with scientific organizations to advance public policy, education, and the public understanding of science.
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