AIBS to Offer Communications Boot Camp for Scientists

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) has launched a new professional development program designed to enhance the communication skills of scientists, particularly those interested in communicating with decision-makers and the news media. The program is an excellent way to develop new communication skills and identify effective methods for broadening the impact of research and education programs.

The AIBS Communications Training Boot Camp for Scientists expands on AIBS’ highly successful media and science policy training workshops. The Boot Camp meets the needs of everyone from graduate students to senior researchers and program administrators to newly elected professional society leaders.

The Boot Camp is an intensive, two-day, hands-on training program in Washington, DC.

Participants will learn:

  • How to translate scientific findings for non-technical audiences
  • How to tell a resonant story that informs decision-makers
  • How to prepare for and participate in a news interview, including broadcast interviews
  • How to prepare for and engage in a meeting with a decision-maker
  • How to protect your scientific reputation
  • How to identify and define the audience you need to reach
  • What policymakers want and need to know from a scientist
  • What reporters are looking for in an interview
  • How the nation’s science policy is developed and implemented

Participants will also have the opportunity for formal and informal discussions with science policy and communications experts working in Washington, DC. A course outline is available here.

The workshop will be held in Washington, DC on 7-8 December 2016.

AIBS Individual Members and individuals nominated to participate by an AIBS Member Society/Organization receive a $75 discount on registration.

Learn more about the program and register now at https://www.aibs.org/public-policy/communicationsbootcamp.html.

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House Passes Interior Funding Bill

Legislation that would modestly increase funding for several bureaus of the Department of the Interior in fiscal year 2017, but cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), passed the House of Representatives on 14 July 2016. H.R. 5538 was among the last items of business the chamber addressed before lawmakers left for a seven-week recess. This is the first time in several years that the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill has been passed by the House; contentious policy items have killed the legislation in recent years.

Notably, the U.S. Geological Survey would receive an $18 million increase if the bill were enacted. This includes a $2.7 million increase for the Ecosystems mission area.

The bill also includes $301 million for Forest and Rangeland Research at the U.S. Forest Service. This represents an increase of $10 million over the current funding level, although the new funding would be directed to forest products and forest inventory programs per an amendment by Representative Bruce Westerman (R-AR).

The EPA would lose $274 million in funding from the 2016 enacted level of $8.1 billion, continuing a multiple year slide in funding. Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) sought an additional 17 percent cut. His amendment failed after the bill’s sponsor explained that the proposed reduction would negatively impact state grant funding. An amendment by Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) to eliminate EPA’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs was adopted by voice vote.

More than 100 amendments were debated before the bill passed with the support of 231 Representatives. It was a party-line vote, with all but three of the supporting votes coming from Republicans.

Many of the failed amendments attempted to remove policy riders from the legislation. Several policy provisions would prohibit the listing of new endangered species, block funding for environmental education grants, and prevent Obama administration air and water regulations from taking effect.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill.

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Summer Arrives with No Funding to Fight Zika

Congress has recessed for the summer without reaching a compromise on how to fight Zika virus. In the days leading up to the break, the Senate again took up the issue as part of defense funding legislation. Senate Democrats agreed to start conference negotiations with the House, however, a procedural vote failed to get the required 60 votes.

The Senate previously approved $1.1 billion in emergency funding, with no requirement to offset the spending from other programs. If enacted, the funds could be used for vaccine development and for mosquito control. Democrats have objected to a provision that would temporarily halt certain environmental rules pertaining to pesticide spraying.

The House voted in May to appropriate $622 million to fight Zika. These funds would be transferred from an existing account that was created to combat Ebola, as well as from other programs.

Last week, Florida health officials reported the first possible cases of Zika virus from local transmission.

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Conservation Careers Webinar to be Held in August

Join AIBS for a webinar on careers in conservation and environmental biology on 31 August at 1:00 pm (EST). Panelists will include individuals who have built successful careers in non-profit settings. Participants will have an opportunity to engage the panelists in discussion. Register for this free event at https://www.aibs.org/events/webinar/careers-in-conservation-environmental-biology.html.

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July Episode of BioScience Talks on Hydropeaking

The newest episode of BioScience Talks podcast addresses the impacts of hydroelectric dams on insects. Hydropower dams generate more energy than all other renewable sources combined. However, they can also produce dire environmental consequences, including the devastation of aquatic insect populations and the food webs that those insects underpin. A practice called “hydropeaking” is evidently to blame. By altering river flows to meet power-generation needs, hydropeaking generates artificial tides that extirpate insect species. In this episode of BioScience Talks, Dr. Ted Kennedy, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center describes the underlying phenomenon and the citizen science project that brought it to light. Listen to this episode and past episodes at https://www.aibs.org/publications/news/latest-bioscience-talks-podcast.html.

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Now in BioScience: The Challenge of Making Data Publicly Accessible

In the July 2016 issue of BioScience, Jyotsna Pandey highlights the challenges faced by the federal government and other entities in moving towards public access to scientific data. An excerpt of the article follows:

The push for open science has been gathering momentum since a 2013 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memorandum directed agencies to make the results of federally funded research, including scientific data, publicly accessible. Federal agencies have since released individual plans to guide the process of making data available to the public.

The public-access plan for the National Science Foundation (NSF), like those for several other agencies, includes directives for detailed data-management plans to be required in grant proposals. Many researchers are still uncertain, however, as to how they can fulfill data publishing requirements. Continue reading this article for free at http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/66/7/535.full.

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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 policy.aibs.org to get started.

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