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Psychologist Kristina R. Olson Receives Alan T. Waterman Award

On April 12, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that the 2018 Alan T. Waterman Award, the nation’s highest honor for early career scientists and engineers, would go to social and developmental psychologist Kristina R. Olson of the University of Washington. Olson is the first social scientist to receive the award since 2005 and is recognized for her “innovative contributions to understanding children’s attitudes toward and identification with social groups, early prosocial behavior, the development of notions of fairness, morality, inequality and the emergence of social biases.” More information can be found here. Olson and other awardees will be recognized at a ceremony in Washington on May 2.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 17), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on NSF Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request

On March 15, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing to discuss the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2019. Witnesses included NSF Director France Córdova, National Science Board Chair Maria Zuber, and NSF Chief Operating Officer Joan Ferrini-Mundy.

Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) presided over the hearing and used his opening statement to express concern about several grants NSF has supported in the past that he does not consider to be addressing issues of national importance, a concern echoed by many other Republican members of the committee. Smith also expressed concern, shared by committee members on both sides of the aisle, that the U.S. is falling behind its international competitors in investment in research and development.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), the top-ranking Democrat on the committee, used her opening statement to share her concern with NSF’s budget request being flat compared with the agency’s FY 2017 appropriation, and NSF’s proposed disproportionate cuts to education programs and the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. Other members of the committee, including Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Paul Tonko (D-NY), expressed concern about the proposed cuts to the SBE Directorate. While not in attendance at the hearing, Dan Lipinski (D-IL) issued a statement for the record that expressed disappointment in the disproportionate cut to SBE.

Drs. Córdova and Zuber defended the agency’s support for the SBE sciences. Córdova shared that spectrum auctions, life-saving markets for kidney donations, and research in risk and resilience to natural disasters are all contributions of SBE-directorate supported research. Zuber added that the SBE directorate has supported research to understand what draws people to join violent extremist groups and that SBE-supported research in facial recognition aided in the capture of the Boston Marathon bombers.

Drs. Córdova, Zuber, and Ferrini-Mundy answered questions about NSF’s merit review process, U.S. international competitiveness in research, sexual harassment in science, STEM education, and other topics. Their full written testimony and a webcast of the hearing is available here.

Read COSSA’s full analysis of NSF’s FY19 budget request here.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Releases Additional Details of FY 2019 Budget Request

On February 28, full details of the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request for the National Science Foundation (NSF) were released. Preliminary details were unveiled on February 12 with the rest of the President’s FY 2019 budget.

The President’s request includes a total of $7.5 billion for NSF in FY 2019, which is flat with the FY 2017 enacted level (Note: FY 2018 appropriations have not yet been completed, so comparisons are made to the last enacted level). As previously reported, prior to enactment last month of a bipartisan budget deal to raise discretionary spending caps, the Administration’s budget proposal for NSF was $5.3 billion, a nearly 30 percent cut to the agency. Unfortunately, the newly released details show that the additional funding associated with raising the caps would not be spread evenly across the foundation. Instead, the request seeks to reprioritize funds toward NSF’s Big Ideas initiatives at the expense of several existing programs and activities. Of particular concern is the disproportionate treatment of the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) in the request, which would see a cut of 9.1 percent from FY 2017 (11.2 percent to its research and education activities). This is compared to the other directorates that would be held flat or cut by one or two percent.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the NSF FY 2019 Budget Request.

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

NSF Issues 2018-2022 Strategic Plan

Alongside the release of the fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request (see related article), the National Science Foundation issued its latest five-year strategic plan, Building the Future: Investing in Discovery and Innovation, NSF Strategic Plan for FY 2018-2022. The new report outlines the agency’s strategic goals and objectives, which include: (1) expand knowledge in science, engineering, and learning; (2) advance the capability of the Nation to meet current and future challenges; and (3) enhance NSF’s performance of its mission.

The plan also states that a “Performance Plan for FY 2019” has been developed and that it includes the following “Agency Priority Goal”: “Expand public and private partnerships to enhance the impact of NSF’s investments and contribute to American economic competitiveness and security.” Regarding this goal, the strategic plan states that “by September 30, 2019, NSF’s number of partnerships and/or award actions with other federal agencies, private industry, and foundations/philanthropies will grow by 5 percent…” The plan also lists three long-term performance goals: (1) ensure that key FY 2019 NSF-wide program investments are implemented and on track; (2) ensure program integrity and responsible stewardship of major research facilities and infrastructure; and (3) inform applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding in a timely manner. Full details of NSF’s FY 2019 Performance Plan are not currently public since NSF has not yet released its complete FY 2019 budget request.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Senate Commerce Committee Hears Updates from NSF, NIST Leaders

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation featured Dr. France Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Dr. Walter Copan, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in a hearing on January 30 to examine the implementation of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA). AICA was signed into law during the final days of the Obama Administration in January 2017. AICA’s priorities included maximizing basic research, improving STEM education, and encouraging commercialization and technology transfer opportunities. Both NSF and NIST have taken many steps toward implementing the law including increasing oversight and accountability at both agencies and emphasizing the priorities of the act at their agencies. Dr. Córdova’s written testimony included a complete analysis of the steps NSF has taken to comply with the policy directives in the AICA.

During the hearing, Senators from both parties expressed concern about the U.S. being surpassed by China and other countries in terms of funding for science and innovation and called for continued diligence on the part of Congress and federal science agencies to maintain the U.S.’s position as the world’s leading innovator. Many Senators also discussed the importance of extending research opportunities and STEM education to diverse populations including community colleges, colleges and universities in EPSCoR states, minority communities, and women.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

National Science Board Releases Policy Statement on U.S. STEM-Capable Workforce

On February 1, the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF),  released a companion policy statement to the 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators entitled “Our Nation’s Future Competitiveness Relies on Building a STEM-Capable U.S. Workforce.” The statement highlights the Board’s view that growing the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is critical to our economy and global competitiveness. The NSB also emphasized in its statement that STEM is not just for researchers with advanced degrees, but for all Americans and all segments of our population. More details can be found on the NSB website.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Releases 2018 Science & Engineering Indicators

The National Science Board (NSB), the Presidentially-appointed advisory body to the National Science Foundation (NSF), has released the 2018 edition of its Science and Engineering Indicators, a congressionally-mandated compendium of data “relevant to the scope, quality, and vitality of the science and engineering (S&E) enterprise.” Published every two years, the indicators compile data on science and engineering education and the STEM workforce, international comparisons, and public attitudes toward science and engineering.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 23), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

National Academies Launches Reproducibility and Replicability Study

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held the first meeting of the study committee on Reproducibility and Replicability in Science on December 12 and 13.  The study is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is statutorily required by a provision in the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. The committee will work to identify factors that affect reproducibility and replication, highlight best practices, and ascertain the extent of issues affecting reproducibility and replication. More information about project can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 9), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Seeking New Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources Directorate

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has initiated a national search for Assistant Director for the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate. Dr. Jim Lewis has served as Acting Assistant Director since January of 2016. The Assistant Director for EHR will oversee the directorate, which includes the Division of Graduate Education, the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, the Division of Undergraduate Education, and the Division on Human Resource Development.

The search committee is seeking candidates with outstanding leadership capabilities; a deep sense of scholarship; and a grasp of the issues facing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research and education. Details and contact information for the search committee can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 12), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NSF Seeking to Fill Two Top Social Science Posts

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has initiated a national search for Assistant Director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. Dr. Fay Lomax Cook has served in this position since September 2014. The Assistant Director for SBE will oversee the directorate, which includes the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, the Division of Social and Economic Sciences, the SBE Office of Multidisciplinary Activities, and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

The search committee is seeking candidates with outstanding leadership capabilities; a deep sense of scholarship; a grasp of the issues facing the social, behavioral, and economic science communities, especially in the areas of education and fundamental research; and expertise with the production, analysis and dissemination of public data and statistics. Details and contact information for the search committee can be found here.

Additionally, as previously reported, NSF is accepting applications for the position of Division Director of the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), NSF’s principal statistical agency housed within the SBE Directorate.

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

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