D.C. Research Weekly Report

National Science Board Resolution on NSF and the National Interest
The National Science Board passed a resolution on the NSF's responsibility to serve the "national interest." The resolution states: 
"WHEREAS, the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 created the Foundation to serve the national interest, its mission being “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare, to secure the national defense, and for other purposes;”
WHEREAS, the Foundation’s Merit Review Criteria (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts) were constructed to ensure that Foundation-funded research fulfills this statutory mission;
WHEREAS, the Foundation has recently initiated, through Important Notice 137,1 new policies to clarify that the abstract for an award must “serve as the public justification for NSF funding by  articulating how the project serves the national interest;”
Therefore, be it RESOLVED that the National Science Board (Board) strongly endorses the principle that all Foundation-funded research and education must further the national interest by contributing to the Foundation’s mission. The Board recognizes and supports the Director’s continuing efforts to ensure that all Foundation practices and awards reflect this principle. The Board requests that the Director provide a progress update within one year of the approval of this resolution regarding the implementation of Important Notice 137."

House Appropriations Committee Approves the FY16 Commerce, Justice, Science Bill 
The House Appropriations Committee released its FY16 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill. The measure, which the CJS subcommittee approved by a voice vote on Thursday, totals $51.4 billion, an increase of $1.3 billion over the FY15 level and $661 million below the President's request. A full Committee hearing will be scheduled for next week and includes increased funding for both the NSF and NASA. 

NSF: The bill provides $7.4 billion for the NSF, an increase of $50 million over the FY15 enacted level, including:
  • Research and Related Activities would receive $5.98 billion, or $50 million (0.8 percent) above the FY15 enacted level;
  • Education and Human Resources would be level-funded at the FY15 amount of $866 million; and

  • Major Research Equipment and Facilities would receive $200 million, a slight reduction from the FY15 level of $200.8 million.

NASA: The bill appropriates $18.5 billion for NASA, an increase of $519 million above the FY15 enacted level. Below is funding by NASA directorate:

  • The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) would receive $5.23 billion, or $7.2 million below the FY15 enacted level. Within SMD, $140 million would support the Jupiter Europa mission. The bill includes previous language that spending for James Webb Space Telescope "shall not exceed $8 billion."

  • The Aeronautics Mission Directorate would be funded at $600 million, or $51 million (7.8 percent) below the FY15 enacted level.

  • The Space Technology Mission Directorate would receive $625 million, an increase of $29 million (4.9 percent) above the FY15 enacted level.

  • Education (Space Grant). The directorate would be level-funded at the FY15 amount of $119 million; within that total, Space Grant would be level-funded funded at $40 million.

The bill includes language that prohibits NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from engaging in bilateral activities with China unless authorized or certified via procedures established in the bill. 

During the markup, many members of the Committee spoke in support of the bill. Chairman Culberson (R-TX) expressed support for science, noting that NASA and NSF are strategic assets to the country. He acknowledged the NSF did not see much of an increase (+$50M) but noted that last year they received a “record increase” and “if other funds become available later in the year, we’ll do everything we can to give it to NSF.” He expressed strong support for the BRAIN Initiative at NSF, which the bill fully funds and is important to Ranking Member Fattah (D-PA).

Upcoming Hearings
Tuesday, May 19
Examining DHS Science and Technology Directorate's Engagement with Academic and Industry
Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Cyber security, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies,
Hearing to discuss the Department of Homeland Security's current and future opportunities for collaboration with universities and private industry, 10AM

Nomination Announcements
Science and SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists

The Prize is awarded annually to one young scientist for outstanding life science research for which he/she was awarded a doctoral degree in the previous two years. The topic of the entrant's thesis research must be in one of the following categories: Cell and Molecular Biology, Genomics and Proteomics, Ecology and Environment, Translational Medicine. Eligible entrants must have been awarded their doctoral degree in 2013 or 2014, and the subject of their thesis should match one of the Subject Tracks below. The winners from each category will compete for the grand prize. US$30,000 for the grand prize winner, US$10,000 for each of the category winners. The grand prize winning essay will be published in Science and essays from the each of the category winners will be published online.

Application deadline: August 1, 2015. You can read more here.

National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is requesting nominations to fill at least 16 vacancies on the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP).The NACNEP provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary and Congress in preparation of general regulations and concerning policy matters arising in the administration of Title VIII, including the range of issues related to nurse workforce education and practice improvement.

The Department of Health and Human Services is requesting at least 16 nominations for members of the NACNEP from leading authorities in the various fields of nursing, higher and secondary education, and associate degree schools of nursing; and from representatives of advanced education nursing groups (such as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists); from hospitals and other institutions and organizations which provide nursing services; from practicing professional nurses; from the general public; and full-time students enrolled in schools of nursing. The majority of NACNEP members shall be nurses. Read the full announcement here.

National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality
The Council is to advise the Secretary of HHS (Secretary) and the Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) on matters related to activities of the Agency to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.

Seven current members' terms will expire in November 2015. To fill these positions, we are seeking individuals who are distinguished in: (1) The conduct of research, demonstration projects, and evaluations with respect to health care; (2) the fields of health care quality research or health care improvement; (3) the practice of medicine; (4) other health professions; (5) representing the private health care sector (including health plans, providers, and purchasers) or administrators of health care delivery systems; (6) the fields of health care economics, information systems, law, ethics, business, or public policy; and, (7) representing the interests of patients and consumers of health care. Individuals are particularly sought with experience and success in activities specified in the summary above. Read the full announcement here.

EPA Science Advisory Board

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invites nominations of scientific experts from a diverse range of disciplines to be considered for appointment to the Science Advisory Board (SAB) and six SAB committees. The chartered SAB provides strategic advice to the EPA Administrator on a variety of EPA science and research programs. All the work of SAB committees and panels is under the direction of the chartered SAB. The chartered SAB reviews all SAB committee and panel draft reports and determines whether they are appropriate to send to the EPA Administrator. The SAB Staff Office is seeking nominations of experts to serve on the chartered SAB in the following disciplines as they relate to human health and the environment: Analytical chemistry; ecological sciences and ecological assessment; economics; engineering; geochemistry; health disparities; health sciences; hydrology; hydrogeology; medicine; microbiology; modeling; pediatrics; public health; risk assessment; social, behavioral and decision sciences; statistics; and toxicology. should be submitted in time to arrive no later than May 27, 2015. The SAB Staff Office is especially interested in scientists with expertise described above who have knowledge and experience in air quality; agricultural sciences; climate change; drinking water; energy and the environment; water quality; water quantity; water reuse; ecosystem services; community environmental health; sustainability; chemical safety; green chemistry; human health risk assessment; homeland security; and waste and waste management. Read the full announcement here.

Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award
The Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award is bestowed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy to mid-career scientists and engineers in recognition of exceptional scientific, technical, and/or engineering achievements related to the broad missions of the U.S. Department of Energy and its programs. The Lawrence Award is administered by the Department of Energy's Office of Science. The Award consists of a citation signed by the Secretary of Energy, a gold-plated medal, and a $20,000 honorarium. An award is given in each of the following eight categories: Atomic, Molecular, and Chemical Sciences, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Computer, Information, and Knowledge Sciences, Condensed Matter and Materials Sciences, Energy Science and Innovation, Fusion and Plasma Sciences, High Energy Physics, National Security and Nonproliferation, and Nuclear Physics.
Enrico Fermi Award
The Enrico Fermi Award is one of the longest running and most prestigious science and technology awards given by the US Government. The award recognizes outstanding contributions and achievements that are particularly distinguished and demonstrate scientific, technical, management or policy leadership that are related to all basic and applied research, science, and technology supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and its programs. The Award consists of a citation signed by the President of the United States and the Secretary of Energy, a gold-plated medal, and a $50,000 honorarium.

National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Nominations are currently being accepted for the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The National Medal of Science is awarded by the President to individuals deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding cumulative contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, engineering, or behavioral or social sciences, in service to the nation. The National Medal of Technology and Innovation is awarded to individuals, teams, companies, or divisions of companies for contributions to America's economic, environmental, and social well-being.

Nominations for the National Medal of Science are due on April 27, 2015. More information on the nomination process is available here. Nominations for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation must be received by June 1, 2015. More information is available here.

Research Articles
Stiff interoperability penalties in new 21st Century Cures Act
Engaging First-Year Students in STEM Research
U.S.-CERN Agreement Paves Way for New Era of Scientific Discovery
Senators plan rival bill on medical cures
The Air Force wants you to build its next drone engine
Key House Republican says 70% of NSF's research dollars should go to "core" science - not geo or social research
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