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NASEM Report Outlines Future of Graduate STEM Education

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently released a new consensus study report on Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century, which outlines ways to better to prepare students from all backgrounds for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The study was written by a committee chaired by Alan Leshner, CEO Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Burroughs Welcome Fund, the Institute of Education Sciences, and the Spencer Foundation.

The report describes an ideal system of STEM graduate education and outlines core competencies for master’s and doctoral STEM degrees. The report makes a number of recommendations to achieve this vision, including funding for research on graduate STEM education; rewarding effective teaching and mentoring; collecting national and institutional data on students and graduates; ensuring diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environments; career exploration and preparation for graduate students; changes to the structure of doctoral research activities; and stronger support for graduate student mental health services. The full report is available to download for free on the NASEM website.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 12), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

CNSF Hosts 24th Annual Capitol Hill Exhibition

On May 9, the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), of which COSSA is a member, hosted its 24th Annual Capitol Hill Exhibition and Reception, titled “Investments in Scientific and Educational Research: Fueling American Innovation.” Several COSSA member associations and universities featured researchers whose work has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The event seeks to highlight the importance of NSF-supported basic research with policymakers. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) produced a video featuring some of the presenters. COSSA co-sponsored the event.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 29), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

AAAS Accepting Nominations for Awards and Prizes

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has opened the nominations process for several of its annual awards and prizes that recognize significant contributions to science and the public’s understanding of science. The awards and prizes currently accepting nominations include:

  • AAAS Award for Public Engagement with Science – Recognizes scientists and engineers who have made outstanding contributions to the popularization of science (Nominations accepted through August 1, 2018)
  • AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science – Recognizes early-career scientists and engineers who have demonstrated excellence in their contributions to public engagement with science activities (Nominations accepted through August 1, 2018)
  • AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy – Recognizes an individual, or team of individuals, in the scientific and engineering or foreign affairs communities making an outstanding contribution to furthering science diplomacy (Nominations accepted through August 1, 2018)
  • AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility – Honors scientists, engineers, and their organizations whose exemplary actions have served to foster scientific freedom and responsibility (Nominations accepted through August 31, 2018)
  • AAAS Mentor Award & Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement – Honors individuals who during their careers demonstrate extraordinary leadership to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in science and engineering fields and careers (Nominations accepted through August 15, 2018)
  • AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize – Awarded to the author or authors of an outstanding paper published in the Research Articles or Reports sections of Science that includes original research data, theory, or synthesis; is a fundamental contribution to basic knowledge or is a technical achievement of far-reaching consequence; and is a first-time publication of the author’s own work (Nominations accepted through June 30, 2018)
  • AAAS Philip Hauge Abelson Prize – Recognizes an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the advancement of science as a public servant, or a scientist who has been distinguished for both scientific achievement and other notable services to the scientific community (Nominations accepted through August 1, 2018)

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

DC Social Science Team Highlights Research on Improving District Programs

On Tuesday, February 27, The Lab @ DC hosted its latest event, The Forum @ DC, at the University of the District of Columbia. The Lab @ DC is a team of social scientists within the District of Columbia government that conducts scientific evaluations and collects academic research related to the District to design policy interventions that help improve the quality of life for citizens of DC. During the event, researchers presented current studies that could have potential impacts on DC programs and policies. These researchers represented a variety of fields but emphasis was placed on social science and data science.

The first panel was on the topic of “World Class Education in All 8 Wards.” Some highlights of the panel included a study by Veronica Katz, a research associate at the University of Virginia, showing that teacher turnover rates do not always have negative effects on student achievement if the exiting teachers are low-performing. Afiya Mbilishaka, a researcher at the University of the District of Columbia, discussed her findings on the negative psychological effects of biased school rules against African American women’s hair. Panel two, “Healthy Living in All 8 Wards,” was related to health research in DC. This panel featured George Washington University’s Emily Morrison on the impact of broken sidewalks on older citizen’s health; Whitman-Walker Health’s Guillaume Rene Bagal III on the importance of legal assistance services for those living with HIV; and Georgetown University’s Kruti Vekaria on strategies to encourage positive behaviors like bone marrow donations using behavioral insights into future decision-making.

A panel on “Pathways to the Middle Class,” focused on economic inequality in DC. Sonya Grier from American University explained the negative impact gentrification has on community engagement. Sally Hudson from the University of Virginia studied the impact of the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation’s financial aid packages on college enrollment, and found that awards for undergraduates cut the dropout rate by senior year in half, but there was no impact on bachelor’s degree completion for students who took more than four years to finish their studies. The final panel, “A Safer, Stronger DC,” provided information on crime and violence prevention. It included presentations by Michelle Chatman of the University of the District of Columbia on restorative justice, mindfulness, and equity education for youth, and by David Yokum, Director of The Lab @ DC, on the effects of police use of body-worn-cameras.

Learn more about the activities of The Lab @ DC on their website.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s spring intern, Dakota Leonard of Arizona State University.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

National Academies Requests Nominations for Study on the Well-Being of Military Families

The Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is requesting nominations for experts to serve on a new consensus committee to study the Well-Being of Military Families. The consensus study will examine the challenges and opportunities facing families of service members and identify effective strategies are already known for supporting and protecting military children and families. The Board seeks experts in military children and families, stress development and resilience, family interactions, mental and social support services, and military systems. Nominations are due by Friday, December 1, 2017. More information can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 23 (November 28), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Academies Calls for Better Integration of Social and Behavioral Science into Weather Enterprise

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has released a new consensus report, Integrating Social and Behavioral Sciences Within the Weather Enterprise. Sponsored by the National Weather Service and the Office of Weather and Air Quality within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Highway Administration, the report acknowledges a “growing recognition that a host of social and behavioral factors determine how we prepare for, observe, predict, respond to, and are impacted by weather hazards” and that research and findings from the social and behavioral sciences must be better incorporated into the systems we use to predict and communicate information about the weather and hazards. The report proposes a framework for accomplishing this goal that includes ensuring the social sciences are represented in the leadership of weather organizations, building capacity to support social science research throughout the weather enterprise through sustained funding and professional support, and focusing on research to fill knowledge gaps, particularly system-level studies of the weather enterprise; risk assessment and responses; and message design, delivery, interpretation, and use. The complete report is available on the National Academies website.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Academies Releases Proactive Policing Report

On November 11, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report, sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, entitled Proactive Policing: Effects on Crime and Communities. The report evaluates the impact of proactive policing strategies on crime, communities, and racial disparities in policing. Proactive policing differs from traditional policing in that it targets the underlying causes of crime and disorder rather than reacting to crime after it occurs. The report concludes that sufficient scientific evidence supports the adoption of some proactive policing practices and that proactive policing is particularly effective in areas with high concentrations of crime and repeat offenders. Additionally, there was no evidence of adverse community receptiveness in those areas.

The report identifies a significant gap in knowledge surrounding long-term effects of proactive policing and calls for additional comprehensive research on whether police programs to enhance procedural justice improve perceptions of legitimacy and cooperation between communities and the police. During a webinar to mark the release of the report, David Weisburd, Chair of the authoring committee and Director of George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, commented on the “striking lack of social science evidence” available on violations of the law by police and the causes of racial disparities in police-citizen encounters. The report calls for a greater investment in researching what is “cost-effective, how such strategies can be maximized to improve the relationships between the police and the public, and how they can be applied in ways that do not lead to violations of the law by the public.”

This article was contributed by COSSA’s fall intern, Erin Buechele of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Academies Decadal Survey Seeking Social Science Research Ideas to Improve Intelligence Analysis

As part of the Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Science for Applications to National Security, the Committee for the Decadal Survey has opened a call for input from the scientific community to share innovative scientific approaches and research concepts. More specifically, the focus of this call for information is to identify cutting-edge research that might improve intelligence analysis within the next ten years. The Committee has created an IdeaBuzz website to allow the social and behavioral science research community to share ideas and engage in meaningful discussions about current and future trends in the social and behavioral sciences.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

CNSTAT Issues Report on Federal Statistics, Multiple Data Sources, and Privacy Protection

The Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently issued a consensus report entitled Federal Statistics, Multiple Data Sources, and Privacy Protection: Next Steps. The report was produced by the Panel on Improving Federal Statistics for Policy and Social Science Research Using Multiple Data Sources and State-of-the-Art Estimation Methods, chaired by Robert Groves of Georgetown University. The Panel’s first report, Innovations in Federal Statistics: Combining Data Sources While Protecting Privacy, was published in January 2017, and described some of the challenges currently facing the federal statistical system’s current paradigm of heavy reliance on sample surveys and recommended a new approach of combining different kinds of federal and private data, as well as the creation of an entity to facilitate that. Federal Statistics, Multiple Data Sources, and Privacy Protection builds on the first report and examines statistical methods for combining diverse types of data, the implications relying on multiple data sources may have for IT systems, different statistical and computer science approaches to enhancing privacy protections, how to ensure the quality and utility of statistics produced using multiple data sources, and ways to implement the “new entity” that would facilitate combining data sources. The pre-publication version of the report is available on the National Academies’ website.

There is quite a bit of overlap in the areas addressed by the CNSTAT panel and those addressed by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, which released its report in September (see COSSA’s coverage the Commission)—in fact, Panel Chair Robert Groves served on the Commission as well. However, while the resulting reports from the two groups are hopefully complementary, their work was conducted independent of one another.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 31), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NDD United Highlights Impacts of Budget Cuts in Faces of Austerity 2.0 Report

On October 25, NDD United, a broad coalition of stakeholders interested in protecting non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs from budget cuts (including COSSA), held a congressional briefing to celebrate the launch of its latest report, Faces of Austerity 2.0: How Budget Cuts Continue to Make Us Sicker, Poorer, and Less Secure. The report explores how sequestration and the Budget Control Act put programs that millions of Americans rely on at risk. NDD United is calling upon Congress to stop NDD funding cuts by treating defense and nondefense programs equally, maintaining the precedent set in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. NDD United aims to demonstrate that these budget cuts are not just numbers on paper, but represent real and increasingly difficult challenges for many Americans.

At the congressional briefing, NDD United invited a panel of five speakers to share their personal experiences with cuts to NDD programs. Melissa Armas, a mother and volunteer with Parent Voices CA, shared her story first. This past year, Melissa accepted a bonus from her employer, and because of it, she was $100 over the low-income threshold to receive a government subsidy that would allow her four-year-old daughter to attend daycare. Michael Gritton, Executive Director of KentuckianaWorks, an organization that educates, trains, and connects local job seekers with employers, shared that his organization has had to close two training centers and cut training programs by 40 percent because of NDD budget cuts. Joseph Hill-Coles, Community Navigator at Youth Services, Inc. used his personal experience as a homeless eighteen-year-old to amplify the need to fund “age and culturally appropriate” programs for homeless teens. Jim Northup, former Superintendent of Shenandoah National Park, spoke about the necessity of a sustained annual national budget that allows agencies and programs to plan their yearly spending effectively. The final speaker, Ashley Webb, Prevention Program Manager for the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, explained how reliant state and local programs and organizations are on federal funding, especially in a state like Illinois where state funding is often unreliable. She echoed the voices of the other speakers when affirming that these programs should be able to spend “less time fundraising and more time working.”

This article was contributed by COSSA’s fall intern, Erin Buechele of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 31), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

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