With a vote of 329 to 89 the House of Representatives recently approved H.R. 2361. The legislation would provide for fiscal year 2006 appropriations for the Environmental Protection Agency. Overall, the House would provide EPA's science and technology accounts with a $21.2 million increase over the FY 2005 level of $744 million. The proposed increase is just over $4.5 million more than the administration requested earlier this year.
While the budget would be boosted slightly, some programs would be trimmed significantly from the administration's request. Fortunately, Appropriation's Committee report language accompanying H.R. 2361 expresses strong support for many programs of interest to the biological sciences community. The House would provide a $12.4 million increase to the Human Health and Ecosystems account, but would cut $1.2 million from the HHE computational toxicology program area. Among the increases, $1.9 million more would go to endocrine disruptor research, $3.7 million for fellowships through the Science to Achieve Results program, and $8 million for other human health and ecosystems research of which $4 million is for exploratory grants, $2.9 is for ecosystem protection research, $600,000 is for aggregate risk research, and $500,000 is for condition assessments of estuaries in the Gulf of Mexico.
H.R. 2361 has been referred to the Senate where it awaits further consideration.
The House of Representatives' Appropriations subcommittee with responsibility for the National Science Foundation recently approved legislation that would make fiscal year 2006 appropriations for the National Science Foundation. The measure must now move through the full committee and the House. Briefly, the subcommittee plan would provide the NSF with a $171 million increase over the FY 2005 funding level, a $38 million increase over the President's request. If enacted as proposed, the NSF would receive $5.64 billion. From this amount, $4.38 billion would support research, $157 million more than in 2005. The Education and Human Resources account would receive $807 million or $70 million more than the President's request, but below the level many science education advocates would like to see.
Preliminary analysis suggests that under the subcommittee proposal, the Research and Related Activities account would be bolstered by an increase of $46.5 million more than the administration's request. This figure, coupled with the proposed increase over the administration request for Education and Human Resources would provide $115 million more than the administration requested. Thus, given that the administration request for the NSF included only a $38 million increase, it appears that the $78.5 million difference will have to be recovered from other parts of the NSF budget - most likely the Major Research Equipment and Facilities construction and Salaries and Expenses accounts.
President Bush has announced his intention to nominate Dr. Kathie Olsen to be deputy director of the National Science Foundation. Olsen is currently the associate director for science in the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Prior to joining OSTP, she served at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as chief scientist and acting associate administrator for the Enterprise in Biological and Physical Research. The move would be a return to NSF for Olsen, who previously held several leadership positions at the agency.
AIBS recently convened a meeting in Washington, DC on the topic of open access (OA) journal publishing. The first half of the meeting was held as part of the annual AIBS Council of member societies and organizations annual meeting (7-8 May). The balance of the meeting was on 9 May and included additional attendees and guests. The latter meeting was sponsored by Burk and Associates, AIBS's association management partner.
See the Council News (http://www.aibs.org/council-news/) to view non-OA materials related to the Council meeting, including:
Visit http://www.aibs.org/special-symposia/2005-open-access.html to view OA program and slides (as PDF slides) from 8-9 May.
A Transcript of the OA meeting is being prepared and will be posted at the above URL in June 2005.
Speakers' contact information is included with the website postings. Please contact speakers directly for permission to reuse slides.
The National Center for Educational Statistics recently released the results from their 2004 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty. The Survey findings provide information about the faculty and instructional staff employed in degree-granting public and private not-for-profit postsecondary institutions in the United States. The report describes the gender, race/ethnicity, tenure status, and income of all faculty and instructional staff, by employment status, institution type, and program area. Over 6,500 institutions that offer associate's, bachelor's, master's, doctor's, and first-professional degrees participated in the study.
Among many interesting highlights, the report sheds some light on gender equality among postsecondary faculty. In Fall 2003, almost two-thirds of faculty members, 382,232, were male. Additionally, male faculty earned higher average salaries than women, $68,000 versus $55,000, and 50 percent of men in full-time faculty positions had tenure, compared to 36 percent of women. According to the survey, women represent a majority of new hires, 55 percent, in these institutions.
The report also summarized average salaries of all full-time instructional faculty on 9/10 month contracts, a category that contained over 70 percent of all faculty members in the study. Not surprisingly, professors earned the highest average salary of $85,000, associate professors earned just under $62,000, while assistant professors made about $52,000, instructors averaged $49,000, and lecturers earned an average of $44,000.
For more information, please visit the NCES website: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2005172.
On 26 May 2005 U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth appointed Dr. Deanna J. Stouder as the national director of wildlife, fish, watershed and air research. The wildlife, fish, watershed and air research staff, which is a part of the agency's research and development program area, enhances understanding of organisms, populations, ecosystems, and ecological processes. Information provided by this research helps the agency comply with requirements of environmental statutes, including the National Forest Management Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.
"The Forest Service's research into the field of wildlife, fish, watersheds and air significantly contributes to the health and sustainability of forest, rangeland and aquatic ecosystems," said Bosworth. "Deanna not only brings a great deal of talent and professionalism to this position, but also an enormous amount of enthusiasm and commitment to research in these important areas."
Stouder joined the Forest Service in 1998 as the program manager of the aquatic and land interactions research and development program at the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland, Oregon. Before then she was a unit leader within the U.S. Geological Survey's cooperative fish and wildlife research program in Ohio. She has also been a professor at The Ohio State University and the University of Washington. "I am delighted to accept this new challenge and look forward to working with such a high-caliber staff," said Stouder. "The research being conducted in this field is so vital to helping to keep our nation's forests strong and healthy."
Stouder received her doctorate in ecology from the University of Georgia, Athens, in 1990. She holds a master's in biology and a bachelor's in aquatic biology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is a member of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, American Fisheries Society, and Ecological Society of America.
On 24 May 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named five new Jefferson Science Fellows in a ceremony at the department. The Jefferson Science Fellowship Program, which was introduced in 2003 to strengthen the connection between science and diplomacy, offers tenured professors at American academic institutions the opportunity to spend a year on assignment with the State Department. The awardees then spend five years as State Department advisers upon returning to their academic positions.
This year's fellows are: Dr. William Hammack, biomolecular engineering, University of Illinois; Dr. James Harrington, ceramic and materials engineering, Rutgers University; Dr. Alexander King, materials engineering, Purdue University; Dr. Michael Prather, Earth systems science, University of California, Irvine; and Dr. Edward Samulski, chemistry, University of North Carolina.
In the June 2005 Washington Watch article in BioScience, freelance writer Barton Reppert explores the fallout from the Environmental Protection Agencies' recent mercury regulation. The complete article may be read for free at: http://www.aibs.org/washington-watch/washington_watch_2005_06.html.
Following is a brief excerpt from the article:
"Forty-three states have issued advisories against eating mercury-contaminated fish, in recognition of the harm that organic methylmercury pollution can cause to the environment and to human health. In response to stepped-up legal and political pressure on the federal government, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moved to develop a policy for reducing mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, the largest source of such emissions in this country. Environmental groups, however, made public their opposition to the industry-favored "cap-and-trade" mercury regulation months in advance of the EPA policy announced on 15 March. The chorus of outrage from the environmental community thus was no surprise to EPA officials."
"What EPA officials may not have anticipated was the comparably strong opposition from state governments..."
Give your society or organization a voice in public policy decisions affecting your areas of science. Support the AIBS Public Policy Office's ability to work with you, on your behalf. See http://www.aibs.org/public-policy/funding_contributors.html. Not an AIBS member yet? Go to http://www.aibs.org/organization-membership or http://www.aibs.org/individual-membership
Now Online: Report on 2005 AIBS Council meeting and open access publishing meeting http://www.aibs.org/announcements/050519_now_online_report_on.html
Check for opportunities to comment on federal agency actions affecting the biological sciences at the AIBS Federal Register Resource, http://www.aibs.org/federal-register-resource/index.html