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Arthur Lupia to Lead NSF’s Social Science Directorate

Dr. Lupia at COSSA's 2018 Science Policy Conference

Dr. Lupia at COSSA’s 2018 Science Policy Conference

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced that it has chosen Dr. Arthur “Skip” Lupia to serve as the next head of its Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE), following the expiration of Dr. Fay Lomax Cook’s term. Dr. Lupia is currently the Hal R. Varian Collegiate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. He is also the chairman of the board for the Center for Open Science and the chair of the National Academies Roundtable on the Communication and Use of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Lupia served on COSSA’s Board of Directors in 2014 and participated in a panel discussion on “Reestablishing Trust in Social Science and Data” during COSSA’s 2018 Science Policy Conference. His research interests include voting, elections, persuasion, opinion change, civic education, coalition governance, legislative-bureaucratic relationships, and decision-making under uncertainty.

In a press release accompanying the announcement, NSF Director France Córdova states, “Arthur Lupia takes leadership of a directorate whose research portfolio touches on major challenges our nation faces. Better understanding human behavior is important to improving cyber security and increasing resilience in the face of natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, and broad ecological changes. The social sciences have made a profound contribution to the efficiency of markets, organ donations, and the safety of the skies and our inner cities. Dr. Lupia’s outstanding ability as a communicator will be instrumental to making the value of the social sciences widely understood.”

Dr. Lupia’s term as Assistant Director for SBE will begin on September 1. COSSA congratulates him on his appointment and looks forward to working with him in his new role to continue to advance the social and behavioral sciences.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 10), 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 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)

NSF Extends Application Deadline for Director of Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences Position

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking candidates for the Director of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) within the Directorate of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE). The BCS Director is responsible for providing leadership and direction to the Division and implementing overall strategic planning. The BCS Division provides funding for research that helps advance scientific knowledge about the brain, human cognition, language, social behavior, and culture. Applications must be submitted by October 29, 2017. The position requirements can be found on USAJobs.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 3), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NSF Seeking Candidates for Director of Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking candidates for the Director of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) within the Directorate of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE). The BCS Director is responsible for providing leadership and direction to the Division and implementing overall strategic planning. The BCS Division provides funding for research that helps advance scientific knowledge about the brain, human cognition, language, social behavior, and culture. Applications must be submitted by September 29, 2017. The position requirements can be found on USAJobs.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Academies Event Highlights Recent SBE Report; Rep. Lipinski Adds his Support

On July 19, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine hosted a public discussion on a recently released consensus report requested by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The report, The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities, discussed the overwhelming consensus that the social, behavioral, and economic sciences (SBE) significantly contribute to the advancement of NSF’s missions, the missions of other agencies, as well as the missions of businesses and industries. For a more detailed summary of the report, refer to COSSA’s summary. The public discussion of the report was comprised of an overview of the report, commentary, and roundtable discussion on implementing the report’s recommendations, as well as an opportunity for questions from the audience.

The key discussion topics that arose amongst the panelists and audience members included the implementation of strategic planning at NSF, the kind of priorities NSF and the SBE community should pursue through federally funded research, and the need for improved communication of SBE missions, contributions, and relevance to the public. Robert Groves, Provost at Georgetown University and Professor of Math, Statistics, and Sociology, argued that strategic planning cannot be implemented without careful consideration of the priorities that NSF plans to address. In discussion of those priorities, panelists and audience members were split on what they should be and whether priorities should be set according to the issues of importance to the public or according to which issues NSF’s tools, resources, and resources could impact most significantly.

On the topic of how to improve communication about SBE research, Valerie Reyna, Professor of Human Development and Psychology at Cornell University, and Arthur “Skip” Lupia, Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan and member of the SBE Directorate Advisory Committee at NSF, spoke about the need for explicit communication of the mission and value of SBE research by NSF and the SBE community. They also called for increasing the engagement of the general public and policymakers in SBE’s contributions to advancing NSF’s priorities. Cora Marrett, Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin Madison and former Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation, also noted the continuing need for a vibrant and diverse SBE community and priorities that align more closely with the public’s questions and needs.

Earlier in the month on July 12, Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, spoke on the House floor about the value of the consensus report. Rep. Lipinski argued that SBE funded research advances the mission of NSF and helps other agencies and industries achieve their missions as well. According to Representative Lipinski, SBE “provides tools and methods that have helped business and industry grow the U.S. economy and create jobs.” He emphasized that SBE research helps understand the causes and consequences of human behavior, which affect every major challenge facing the nation. In order to continue to address these challenges, Lipinski insisted that continued robust investments in SBE are critical.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s summer intern, Shannon Emmett of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 25), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Academies Highlights the Value of Social Science

At the request of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened an expert committee, chaired by Alan Leshner, CEO Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, to study the contributions of the social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) sciences to the national interest. The committee’s report, The Value of the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities, published last week, is a ringing endorsement of the importance of these fields to addressing “nearly every major challenge the United States faces.” The report draws three conclusions: (1) SBE sciences “produce a better understanding of the human aspects of the natural world, contributing knowledge, methods, and tools that further the mission of the National Science Foundation;” (2) SBE sciences provide understanding, tools, and methods that help other agencies achieve their missions; (3) the SBE sciences have made contributions that “have been applicable to businesses and industry and that have enhanced the U.S. economy.” To support its findings, the report provides supporting examples detailing the contributions of SBE research to health, prosperity and welfare, national defense, progress in science, missions of other agencies, and industry and business.

The committee also issued four recommendations for NSF and the broader SBE community: (1) NSF should undertake a systematic and transparent strategic planning process related to SBE sciences; (2) NSF should “continue to support the development of tools, methods, and research teams” to advance SBE sciences, facilitate their interactions with other fields, and help NSF and other organizations more effectively address national needs; (3) NSF should support training “consistent with the ways science is evolving across all scientific fields;” and (4) NSF should work to better communicate the results and value of the SBE research it supports and to encourage the broader scientific community to increase its own efforts to better communicate the value of SBE research.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 13), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NSF Releases Dear Colleague Letter on Convergence Research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) published a Dear Colleague letter on April 4 outlining new opportunities at NSF for “convergence research” projects. NSF defines convergence research as projects that have “deep integration across disciplines,” are “driven by a specific and compelling problem,” and bring together diverse teams of scientists. The Dear Colleague letter identifies the 10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investment as prospects for convergence research topics, including Work at the Human-Technology Frontier, which is the “Big Idea” lead by the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 18), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

2017 National Academies Workshop on Current and Future Training Needs in Social and Behavioral Sciences

In an August 31 blog post, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) Director William Riley announced the convening of a 2017 National Academies workshop that is being sponsored by OBSSR and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. The workshop will address the current and future training needs in the behavioral and social sciences and responds to the various reports in recent years that “indicate that a majority of behavioral and social sciences doctors are entering research careers in areas outside of the traditional academic research track; and even those going into academia face challenges initiating and maintaining a grant-supported research program.” Along with the “emerging technologies and big data efforts that are transforming the approaches and methods in the field, rethinking the graduate education of behavioral and social scientists is clearly needed,” Riley further noted. The OBSSR director shared that the project “has broad government support from the Social and Behavioral Sciences Subcommittee of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC)” and has been identified as a “pressing need.” In addition, reexamining graduate training in social and behavioral sciences is a significant area of focus in the OBSSR’s Strategic Plan 2017-2020. Read Riley’s full blog post here.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 6), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

NSF Seeks Nominations for Advisory Committees

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued its annual call for recommendations for membership to its various advisory committees and technical boards. These committees advise NSF’s offices and directorates on program management, research direction, and policies impacting the agency.  Committees of particular interest to the COSSA community include the Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences and the Advisory Committee for Education and Human Resources.  Recommendations for membership are maintained for 12 months. See the Federal Register notice for details on how to submit names.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 19), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

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