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Washington Update
Week of April 25 - 29
Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act Approved by Senate Commerce Committee
 
This week, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act (S.2817). This legislation was introduced last week by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). The bill was approved by voice vote in Committee with two minor amendments that can be found here and here.

U-M worked closely with Senator Peters' office to craft this legislation. This bipartisan bill would strengthen space weather research by directing the various federal agencies responsible for understanding, predicting, and forecasting space weather to develop new tools and technologies to improve forecasting and develop benchmark standards to describe space weather disturbances and their potential impacts on Earth. This legislation has implications for NASA, NOAA, NSF, DoD, and DHS.


Further information is available in a Washington Post article about the legislation here.

U-M Professor Tim McKay Presents at Capitol Hill Reception
Professor Tim McKay Discusses His STEM Education Projects with NSF Director France Córdova

On Tuesday, April 26, U-M Professor Tim McKay presented his research on STEM Education at a poster exhibition on Capitol Hill. The event was organized by the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) and was the 22nd Annual Exhibition and Reception, titled “Investments in STEM Research and Education: Fueling American Innovation.” CNSF, of which U-M is a member, is an alliance of over 140 professional organizations, universities and businesses united by a concern for the future vitality of the national science, mathematics, and engineering enterprise.

The event is organized to showcase National Science Foundation (NSF) projects on campuses across the nation in an effort to increase congressional support. In FY2014, the latest year NSF has published data from, U-M received more than $77 million in funding from the NSF for research and education. Attendees of the event included NSF Director France Córdova, NSF program staff, Members of Congress and their staff, and members of the higher education and scientific society community.

Tim McKay discussed some of his science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education projects, which receive funding from the NSF. One of his projects, REBUILD (Researching Evidence Based Undergraduate Instructional and Learning Developments), seeks to change how STEM courses are taught to ensure students are being taught in the most effective ways. The program received $2 million in funding from NSF, along with additional funds from U-M. REBUILD’s overall goal is to provide instructors with knowledge and resources to use evidence-based instruction.

Prior to the poster exhibition, Tim McKay spent the day on Capitol Hill meeting with Congressional aides about the importance of robust investments in the NSF’s research and education programs. He highlighted his own NSF-supported work and U-M’s efforts to help meet the nation’s research and education goals.


Amendment Stalls Senate Consideration of FY17 Energy-Water Appropriations

This week, an amendment stalled Senate passage of the FY2017 Energy-Water Appropriations bill, which passed easily through the Appropriations Committee process. The amendment, offered by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), would prohibit the U.S. from purchasing heavy water from Iran, as part of the Iran Nuclear Deal. The White House threatened to veto the spending bill if it came to President Obama's desk with that amendment included.

The Senate is in recess next week (May 2-6), but will resume consideration of the FY2017 Energy-Water Appropriations bill once they return to session on Monday, May 9.

The Senate Energy-Water Appropriatoins bill
would provide $5.4B for the DoE Office of Science, an increase of $53M (1%) above the FY2016 enacted level. The bill would provide $292.7M for ARPA-E, an increase of $1.7M (0.6%) above the FY2016 level. Further details of the legislation are available here. The report of the bill is available here.

House Science Committee Approves Legislation Regarding Large NSF Projects


On April 27, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology passed the National Science Foundation (NSF) Major Research Facility Reform Act of 2016 (H.R. 5049). The legislation was introduced by Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), who said that the bill would help “restore confidence in federally-funded research projects. ”According to the Committee, “the bill improves the management and oversight of major multi-user research facilities funded by the NSF.”

The bill's major provisions include:

  • Requirement that the NSF Director maintain a Large Facilities Office to support the directorates during the development, implementation, and evaluation of major research facilities;
  • Requirement that the NSF Director appoint a senior official to oversee major research facilities;
  • NSF's policies for developing and maintaining major multi-user research facility construction costs are consistent with the March 2009 GAO Report
NSF believes this bill would limit their ability to hire the best managers and would impose additional requirements it believes are unnecessary. House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) promised to consider suggestions to the legislation, and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) noted that the bill is still a work in progress before it advances to the full House of Representatives.

NSF Seeking Input in Candidate Search for Assistant Director for Three Directorates

Geosciences

NSF is initiating a national search for the NSF's Assistant Director for Geosciences and is seeking assistance in the identification of candidates.

The Assistant Director, GEO, leads a directorate comprised of four divisions: Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS), Earth Sciences (EAR), Ocean Sciences (OCE), and Polar Programs (PLR). Dr. Ralph Cicerone, President of the National Academy of Sciences, will head the search committee. NSF seeks your help in identifying candidates with the following qualifications: outstanding leadership; a deep sense of scholarship; a grasp of the issues facing the geosciences in the areas of research and education; experience developing and overseeing complex scientific facilities; and the ability to serve effectively as a key member of the NSF management team. Recommendations of individuals from any sector - academic, industry, or government - are welcome.

Please send your recommendations, including any supporting information that you can provide, to the AD/GEO Search Committee via e-mail (geosrch@nsf.gov) or at the following address: NSF, Office of the Director, Suite 1205, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230. Please send any recommendations by May 20, 2016.

Mathematical and Physical Sciences
 
NSF is conducting a search for NSF Assistant Director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) and seeks your assistance in the identification of candidates. The Assistant Director, MPS, leads a directorate comprised of five divisions — Astronomical Sciences (AST), Chemistry (CHE), Materials Research (DMR), Mathematical Sciences (DMS), Physics (PHY) —and the Office of Multidisciplinary Activities (OMA). Dr. Saul Perlmutter, Franklin W. and Karen Weber Dabby Professor at the U. California, Berkeley, will head the search committee. NSF seeks your help in identifying candidates with the following qualifications: outstanding leadership; a deep sense of scholarship; a grasp of the issues facing the mathematical and physical sciences in the areas of research and education; experience developing and overseeing complex scientific facilities; and the ability to serve effectively as a key member of the NSF management team. Recommendations of individuals from any sector — academic, industry, or government — are welcome. Please send your recommendations, including any supporting information that you can provide, to the AD/MPS Search Committee via e-mail (mpssrch@nsf.gov) or at the following address: NSF, Office of the Director, Suite 1205, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230. Please send your recommendations by May 13, 2016.

Engineering
 
NSF is initiating a search for Assistant Director for Engineering (ENG) and seeks your assistance identifying candidates. The Assistant Director, ENG, leads a directorate comprised of five divisions — Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET); Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI); Electrical, Communications, and Cyber Systems (ECCS); Engineering Education and Centers (EEC); and Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) — as well as the Office of Emerging Frontiers and Multidisciplinary Activities (EFMA). Enclosed is an information sheet that summarizes the directorate's activities and the responsibilities of the position, together with the criteria that will be used in the search. Dr. C. Daniel Mote, President of the National Academy of Engineering, will head the search committee. We seek your help in identifying candidates with the following qualifications: outstanding leadership; a deep sense of scholarship; a grasp of the issues facing the engineering disciplines in the areas of research, education, and innovation; and the ability to serve effectively as a key member of the NSF management team. Recommendations of individuals from any sector — academic, industry, or government — are welcome. Please send your recommendations, including any supporting information that you can provide, to the AD/ENG Search Committee via e-mail (engsrch@nsf.gov) or at the following address: NSF, Office of the Director, Suite 1205, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230. Recommendations made by May 27, 2016 would be appreciated.

ARPA-E Program Director Positions Available

ARPA-E is hiring Program Directors. The ideal candidates would have visionary ideas on promising areas for new energy technologies. Program Directors are responsible for program creation, design, implementation, and management.

Job opportunity details:

  • Initial term of hire is three years.
  • ARPA-E will consider hiring individuals from universities and other nonprofit organizations via an IPA.
  • US Citizenship is required.

Required qualifications:

  • Doctorate degree in an energy-relevant field of science or engineering, earned by original work.
  • Strong vision for specific program areas that are ripe for ARPA-E investment – those likely to develop transformational energy technologies.
  • Minimum of six to eight years of relevant energy-related experience in academia, industry, and/or technology investment.
  • Strong background in both program management and technology transfer.
  • Deep technical and industry knowledge.
  • Familiarity in at least one specific area of energy technology, along with a broad, interdisciplinary perspective on energy-related issues.

Especially relevant backgrounds include:

  • Electrochemical energy storage and conversion
  • Photovoltaic energy conversion
  • Advanced engines/vehicle technologies
  • Chemical catalysis/reaction engineering for biofuels, industrial processes, and other energy applications
  • Biological approaches to energy conversion/biofuels
  • Low temperature waste heat recapture/thermodynamic and/or solid state cycles
  • Fossil energy conversion/carbon capture and conversion
  • Wind power/ocean and wave power/aerodynamics and fluid dynamics
  • Grid scale energy storage
  • Energy harvesting materials and devices
  • Building efficiency technologies/HVAC/building envelope/smart buildings
  • Advanced lighting technologies
  • Advanced materials for energy applications
Further information is available here.

Legislative Activities

The House and Senate are in recess next week (May 2 - 6). The Senate will reconvene on Monday, May 9. They will resume consideration of the FY17 Energy-Water appropriations bill. The House will convene on Tuesday, May 10.
Nomination Announcements

Federal Advisory Committees:

 
NSF Advisory Committee Openings
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting nominations for positions available on its scientific and technical federal advisory committees. There are 13 advisory committees accepting nominations including:
  • Advisory Committee for Biological Sciences
  • Advisory Committee for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure
  • Advisory Committee for Education and Human Resources
  • Advisory Committee for Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Geosciences
  • Advisory Committee for International Science and Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
  • Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Business and Operations
  • Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee
The federal register notice, with details on how to submit names, is available here. Nominations for membership are maintained for one year.

National Environmental Education Advisory Council
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) office of Public Engagement and Environmental Education is soliciting applications for environmental education professionals for consideration to serve on the National Environmental Education Advisory Council (NEEAC). There are up to eleven vacancies on the Advisory Council that must be filled.

Nominations are due April 29. Further information here.

HRSA Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is seeking nominations of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment as members of the Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children (Committee). The Committee provides advice, recommendations, and technical information about aspects of heritable disorders and newborn and childhood screening to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. HRSA is seeking nominations of qualified candidates to fill three positions on the Committee.

Nominations are due May 16. Further information here.

 
EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee & Science Advisory Board
 
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invites nominations of scientific experts from a diverse range of disciplines to be considered for appointment to the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) and five SAB committees. Appointments are anticipated to be filled by the start of Fiscal Year 2017 (October 2016).
 
Nominations are due Friday, May 6. Further information here.
 
CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are accepting nominations for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). ACIP consists of 15 experts in fields associated with immunization who provide advice and guidance to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Assistant Secretary for Health, and the CDC on the control of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Nominations will be accepted through Friday, November 4, 2016. Further information is available here.

National Institute of Standards and Technology Federal Advisory Committees

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is accepting nominations for appointment to eight existing Federal Advisory Committees:
  • Board of Overseers of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Judges Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board
  • National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee
  • Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction
  • NIST Smart Grid Advisory Committee
  • Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology
Nominations will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Further information is available here.
 
Council on Graduate Medical Education

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is accpeting nominations to fill vacancies on the Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME). The COGME provides advice and recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services and members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce on matters related to: supply of physicians in the U.S., physician workforce trends, training issues, and financing policies.

The agency will receive nominations on a continuous basis. Further information is available here.
News Articles
Extreme space weather could cripple our infrastructure. This bill aims to prevent that.
Ethical Research Using Donated Fetal Tissue Benefits Human Welfare, AAAS Says
Congressman Fattah’s defeat in primary is loss for science community
House panel adopts new rules for large NSF projects
 
How Academics Can Use Snapchat to Share Their Research
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