On 21 September 2009, the National Research Council released a new report, “A New Biology for the 21st Century: Ensuring the United States Leads the Coming Biology Revolution.” Prepared by a committee of 16 experts from biology, engineering, and computational science, the panel met between September 2008 and July 2009. The committee sought to answer questions about how to best develop, fund, and implement an interdisciplinary “New Biology” approach to solving broad societal problems in the coming century. The report identifies four major research goals: developing sustainable food plants, understanding ecosystem diversity, expanding alternative fuels, and understanding individual health. Among the many recommendations, the committee highlights the need for an interagency “National New Biology Initiative” that would prioritize collaborative and transformative sciences, and that would receive funding beyond current federal research budgets. The report is available from the National Academies Press at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12764.

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Environmental Research and Education Advisory Committee released a comprehensive report in September. “Transitions and Tipping Points in Complex Environmental Systems,” is an update to the committee’s 2003 report. The new document which is available at http://www.nsf.gov/geo/ere/ereweb/ac-ere/nsf6895erereport_090809.pdf includes recommendations for NSF and other federal sponsors of environmental research and education. The report also has recommends for the academic research community.

A draft report released by the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force on 17 September 2009 outlines a new national policy for protecting and restoring the nation’s oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. Among many recommendations, the Task Force identifies the need for increased scientific understanding of marine ecosystems and for “decisions affecting the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes [to] be informed by and consistent with the best available science.” Public comments regarding the draft report will be accepted until 17 October 2009. For more information, please visit http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-22868.htm.


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