On 25 June 2008 the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) held its 14th Annual Capitol Hill science exhibition and reception, "The Path to Innovation: Scientific Discovery and Learning." The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and the AIBS-member society—the Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance)—are active members of CNSF. AIBS cosponsored the 2008 event.

CNSF is an alliance of over 100 organizations united by a concern for the future vitality of the national science, mathematics, and engineering enterprise. The Coalition supports the goal of increasing the national investment in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) research and education programs in response to the unprecedented scientific, technological, and economic opportunities facing the United States.

The 2008 reception drew a large crowd, which included members of Congress and their staffs. A number of top NSF officials, including Director Arden L. Bement Jr., Deputy Director Kathie L. Olsen, and Assistant Director for Biology James Collins.

In addition to cosponsoring the exhibition and reception, AIBS teamed with the NSC Alliance to sponsor an exhibit. This year, the AIBS—NSC Alliance exhibit showcased the vitally important role the NSF Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) plays in supporting natural science collections-based research and fundamental biodiversity research. The exhibit, presented by Dr. John Sullivan and Dr. Mark Henry Sabaj Pérez – from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, showcased the NSF-funded All Catfish Species Inventory (ACSI). The ACSI research effort also includes principal investigators at the University of Florida, Auburn University and Cornell University. The $4.68 million effort has involved 422 participants in 53 countries.

The research project is one of seven large-scale projects funded by NSF's Planetary Biodiversity Inventories Program (PBI). The PBI program's goal is to empower international teams of scientists and institutions to assemble a comprehensive framework for understanding Earth's biodiversity via worldwide, species-level inventories of major groups of organisms.

Prior to the evening exhibit and reception, the Drs. Sullivan and Perez met with staff members from the offices of Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Representative Robert Brady (D-PA). These meetings, arranged by the AIBS Public Policy Office provided an opportunity for congressional staff to learn about NSF-funded research being conducted in their state. The meetings were also an important opportunity to remind members of Congress that NSF is centrally important to our nation’s biological research enterprise—providing more than 65 percent of the federal funding for fundamental environmental biology research.


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