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Washington Update
Week of May 9 - 13
Dean Munson Testifies Before Senate Committee on the Future of Science and Technology Policy
Dean Munson poses for a picture with Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness
 

On May 11, Dr. David Munson, Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering at U-M, testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. The hearing, titled “Leveraging the U.S. Science and Technology Enterprise” focused on ways to improve the roles of the federal government, private sector, and academia in science and technology research and development, STEM education and workforce opportunities, and the application of research and development to commercial use. The testimony of Dr. Munson and the other witnesses will help inform the Committee as they work on legislation to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act.

The America COMPETES Act authorizes programs and funding levels for agencies including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. This legislation was last reauthorized in 2010, and has been overdue for reauthorization since the end of fiscal year 2013.

Dr. Munson was the only witness representing a university to testify. Among several topics, he discussed the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education to ensure a robust workforce. He noted several programs that help us achieve these efforts, including integration of the arts with STEM, and also the value at having a coordinated, scalable approach. He also discussed the need for programs that create strong links to industry and federal customers, such as the National Network for Manufacturing Institutes.

Efforts to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act in the Senate are being spearheaded by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), both members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Senator Peters serves as the Ranking Member of the Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee. Over the past year, the two Senators have held roundtable discussions in D.C. and their districts aimed at soliciting input from leading science and technology policy experts as the Committee works to reauthorize this legislation. U-M has had several faculty participate in these discussions and lend their expertise to the Committee as they work to craft this legislation.


Senate Approves FY17 Energy-Water Appropriations

On Thursday, May 12, the Senate approved the FY17 Energy-Water Appropriations bill (H.R. 2028) after considerable delay over an amendment affecting the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran. Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander's (R-TN) announced that he would oppose the Iran amendment, which was key to paving a way forward for the legislation. The Energy and Water is the first FY17 appropriations bill approved by either the House or Senate.

Subcommittee Chairman Alexander remarked: "This legislation brings us one step closer to doubling basic energy research at the Office of Science". The Senate Energy-Water Appropriations 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.

The full Senate will next consider a combined FY17 appropriations package of Transportation-Housing and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs.


NSF Director Córdova Unveils Research Agenda
 

NSF Director France Córdova released a research agenda unveiling nine big ideas she believes NSF can play a role in answering. Senior leadership at NSF were asked to come up with two grand challenges facing the scientific disciplines. From that, Director Córdova finalized the list below. The six research ideas are intended to stimulate cross-disciplinary activity and tackle important societal challenges. The three process ideas include a new no-strings-attached pot of money to seed all manner of fresh ideas. Further information is available in a Science article here.
 

Research
  • Harnessing data for 21st century science and engineering
  • Shaping the human-technology frontier
  • Understanding the rules of life (i.e., predicting phenotypes from genotypes)
  • The next quantum revolution (physics)
  • Navigating the new Arctic (including a fixed and mobile observing network)
  • Windows on the universe: multimessenger astrophysics
Process
  • More convergent research
  • Support for midscale infrastructure (costing tens of millions of dollars)
  • NSF 2050 (i.e., a common fund to seed large, ambitious projects)

Senator Flake Releases "Waste Book" Focused on Federally Funded Research


This week, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) issued a new version of his "waste book". This one focused solely on government-funded studies, "Twenty Questions: Government Studies That Will Leave You Scratching Your Head".  The report includes 20 studies costing a total of $35 million. University of Michigan was not included as part of the waste book.

Page seven of the report includes a list of "20 simple questions that should be answered for taxpayers as part of the review of grant applications seeking federal funding."


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

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate will reconvene on Monday, May 16. The Senate will resume consideration of the FY2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and  Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill.

Committee Activities

Tuesday, May 17


Senate Appropriations Committee
Agriculture, Rural Development, and FDA Subcommittee Hearing: FY2017 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA Appropriations Bi
ll
4:00 p.m., 124 Dirksen


House Appropriations Committee
Full Committee Hearing: FY2017 Defense Appropriations Bill
10:30 a.m., 2359 Rayburn


Wednesday, May 18

House Appropriations Committee
Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Subcommittee Hearing: FY2017 CJS Appropriations Bill
10:00 a.m., 2358-C Rayburn


House Appropriations Committee
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee Hearing: FY2017 THUD Appropriations Bill

11:30 a.m., 2358-A Rayburn

Senate Appropriations Committee
Full Committee Hearing: FY2017 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA Appropriations Bi
ll
10:30 a.m., 106 Dirksen
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.

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.

 
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
Concerns on U.S. Proposal on Human Research Subjects
Pentagon's Research Arm Seeks Wider Relationship With University Scientists
NSF director unveils big ideas, with an eye on the next president and Congress
Obama administration to launch microbiome initiative, heeding scientists' call
$1.1b deal reached by US senators to fight Zika virus
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