Invitation: AIBS Webinar on the Future of Scientific Societies

Technological advancements in recent years have completely overhauled how the scientific community communicates, discovers, creates, and connects. In addition, biology has become increasingly interdisciplinary, exploding with novel information that has necessitated boundary-pushing collaboration and required new ways of communicating. These two changes combined have radically altered social norms and expectations within the professional community of biologists.

Beyond the changes in individual professional activities, there is also compelling evidence that the relationship between individuals and their professional societies is changing dramatically. An understanding of this shift is important for two reasons: scientists and students rely on their professional societies to connect with a peer network that will vet and strengthen their research and advance their careers, and these organizations rely on individuals to contribute their expertise and time to fulfill a critical role in advancing the science. If professional societies are to continue filling these niches and providing key social services not offered by academic institutions or government agencies, a better understanding of the changing dynamics between individuals and their scientific organizations is required in order to help meet these goals and advance the scientific endeavor.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) will host a webinar on Thursday, 17 September 2015 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern to share insights from research AIBS has conducted on these topics.

There is no cost to participate in this webinar, but pre-registration is required. Please register at

This webinar is part of AIBS’ Topics on Leadership in Biological Program. To learn more about this initiative, please visit

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NOAA Releases First Climate Science Strategy for Fisheries

On 25 August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a strategy to tackle the impacts of climate change on fisheries. The strategy—the first of its kind from the agency—was released in response to the “growing demands for information and tools to prepare for and respond to the climate impacts on marine and coastal resources.”

The report emphasizes that the goal of the strategy is “to increase the production, delivery, and use of the climate-related information required to fulfill NOAA Fisheries mandates.”

The strategy identifies seven objectives, including tracking trends in marine ecosystems, identifying robust management strategies, and designing adaptive management processes that respond to a changing climate.

The strategy met with criticism from the Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), who believes that the plan has “zero scientific justification” and could harm the U.S. fishing industry by elevating climate change to its top priority.

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) emphasized that the strategy will help fishery managers respond effectively to climate change impacts on marine resources.

Eileen Sobeck, administrator of NMFS, pointed out that the previous month was the warmest July ever recorded, primarily due to record-high ocean temperatures. “Those warmer waters, along with rising seas, coastal droughts and ocean acidification, are already putting people, businesses, and communities at risk,” she said in a statement. “With this strategy, we’re taking a proactive approach in providing information on current and future conditions to try and reduce impacts and increase our resilience.”

Richard Merrick, NOAA Fisheries Chief Science Advisor, reiterated the importance of “knowing what changes are coming so they [communities and businesses] can take appropriate action to mitigate any negative effects on our economy and environment.”

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BioScience Talks Podcast on Extracellular Vesicles

Listen to the newest episode of BioScience Talks podcast. August’s guests, Drs. Xandra Breakefield and Mikolaj Zaborowski, discuss extracellular vesicles, which are one of the biggest stories in biology. Listen at

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Experts Gather to Consider Opportunities from Initiatives to Digitize Biodiversity Collections, Data

Thirty scientists, communication and outreach experts, and natural science collection administrators from across the country gathered in Chicago last week for a two-day meeting to explore how the biodiversity collections community can better collaborate to share biodiversity information with the public and key decision-makers. The Biodiversity Collections Network organized and sponsored the meeting.

The working group includes individuals from institutions across the nation, including Chicago’s own Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago Botanic Garden, and the Chicago Academy of Sciences.

“This meeting might be thought of as a focus group. Our goal is to have this group think creatively about how we can all better leverage our collective resources and expertise,” said Robert Gropp, Interim Co-Executive Director of the American Institute of Biological Sciences in Washington, DC. “This isn’t about wanting the public to think species diversity is cool, which it is; this is about identifying ways to effectively share timely and important information about biodiversity with those decision-makers who need this information. The speed with which we are losing genetic diversity is alarming and we need to act with great speed to conduct the research needed to understand how this is going to influence the world in which we live, the food that is available to nourish us, and the ecosystem services we all require for clean air and water,” said Gropp.

The development of new imaging technology, more robust data mining and database technologies, and other tools offers scientists new opportunities to increase our understanding of biological diversity. Indeed, the U.S. National Science Foundation has pledged $100 million over 10 years to support research efforts that enable the research community to unlock images and associated data from the billions of biological specimens contained in natural science collections across the United States.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences, Natural Science Collections Alliance, and Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections launched the Biodiversity Collections Network in 2014 with initial support from the National Science Foundation.

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Upcoming Webinars on Water Resources Research

The Environmental Protection Agency hosts a monthly webinar series on its Safe and Sustainable Water Resources Research Program. Upcoming webinars will focus on early detection of invasive species in lakes, acidification of water bodies, and ecosystem services approaches to restoring the Chesapeake Bay. Learn more at

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Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Upcoming Webinars and Proposal Development Workshops

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) in collaboration with the Virtual Faculty Collaborative (VFC), a partnership between the Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Louisiana State University, and Higher Education Services, will be discussing the new program solicitations for the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) Program via a series of webinars. The IUSE initiative supports investments to address immediate challenges and opportunities that are facing undergraduate STEM education.

The IUSE Education and Human Resources webinars will be held on 21 September from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm and on 22 September from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm. The Pre-Service STEM Teacher Education in IUSE Webinar will be held on 1 October from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Enrollment is limited to 300 participants per session. To register for the IUSE Webinar please go to:

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Enter the Faces of Biology Photo Contest

Help the public and policymakers to better understand the breadth of biology by entering the Faces of Biology Photo Contest. The winner will receive $250 and have their image published on the cover of BioScience.

The competition recognizes scientists who use imagery to communicate aspects of biological research to the public and policymakers.

The theme of the contest is “Faces of Biology.” Photographs entered into the competition must depict a person, such as a scientist, technician, or student, engaging in biological research. The research may occur outside, in a lab, at a natural history collection, at a field station, on a computer, in a classroom, or anywhere else research is done.

The winning photo from the 2014 contest is featured on the cover of the May 2015 issue of BioScience.

Submissions must be received by 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time on 30 September 2015.

The contest is sponsored by the American Institute of Biological Sciences. For more information or to enter the contest, visit

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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.

The Legislative Action Center is a one-stop shop for learning about and influencing science policy. Through the website, users can contact elected officials and sign-up to interact with lawmakers.

The website offers tools and resources to inform researchers about recent policy developments. The site also announces opportunities to serve on federal advisory boards and to comment on federal regulations.

This new tool is made possible through contributions from the Society for the Study of Evolution, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, and the Botanical Society of America.

AIBS and our partner organizations invite scientists and science educators to become policy advocates today. Simply go to to get started.

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