Blog Archives

SEAN Releases Rapid Consultation on Evaluating Types of COVID-19 Data

The Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN), a collaboration between the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Science Foundation (NSF) (see previous coverage), has released its first rapid expert consultation in response to COVID-19. The report, Evaluating Data Types: A Guide for Decision Makers using Data to Understand the Extent and Spread of COVID-19, is intended to assist leaders in understanding the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. It was released alongside an interactive tool to help policymakers explore the information in more detail. The consultation summarizes the benefits and drawbacks of seven specific COVID-19 measurements that decision-makers can consider as they use these measurements to respond to the outbreak: (1) confirmed cases, (2) hospitalizations, (3) emergency department visits, (4) reported confirmed COVID-19 deaths, (5) excess deaths, (6) fraction of viral tests that are positive, and (7) representative prevalence surveys. It also outlines five criteria decisionmakers can use in evaluating such data: representativeness, potential for systematic under- or over-estimation, uncertainty, time range, and geographical area. More about SEAN is available here.

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 23), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

National Academies Holds Webinar on COVID-19 and Extreme Environmental Events

The National Academies Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Environmental Change and Society and Resilient America Roundtable convened a webinar on May 13 to discuss the social science aspects of potential emergencies that compound the current COVID-19 crisis with environmental hazards, such as fires, hurricanes, flooding, and heatwaves. The event featured experts from federal government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as universities, and nonprofit and community organizations. Panelists discussed the challenges of responding to emergencies and natural disasters amidst a pandemic and the need for social science to shed more light on how individuals and communities are likely to respond to such situations. A recording of the event is available on the NASEM website.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 26), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NSF, National Academies Launch Network to Connect Social Scientists to COVID-19 Policymakers

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have formed the Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) to connect social and behavioral science researchers with decision-makers who are leading the response to COVID-19. SEAN will respond to the most pressing social, behavioral, and economic questions that are being asked by federal, state, and local officials by working with appropriate experts to quickly provide actionable answers. The network will be overseen by NASEM’s Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats and an executive committee co-chaired by Robert Groves of Georgetown University and Mary T. Bassett of Harvard University. More information is available in the press release announcing the network’s formation. One of the first public activities under the new network is the creation of a weekly archive of public opinion survey data and reports related to COVID-19. COSSA will continue to report on SEAN’s activities as more information becomes available.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 12), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Golden Goose Award Seeks Nominations Related to COVID-19 Research

The Golden Goose Award, which typically recognizes federally funded research that may initially sound odd, obscure, or serendipitous, but ends up having a major impact on society, is planning to use its 2020 Awards to highlight federally funded research that has had a significant and demonstrable impact in responding to COVID-19. More information on nomination criteria is available on the Golden Goose website. The deadline for nominations is May 22, 2020.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 12), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

COPAFS Names New Executive Director

The Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS) has announced the selection of Paul Schroeder as its next executive director effective May 15. Schroeder has previously held positions at the research firm EurekaFacts, Abt Associates, and Westat. Schroeder holds a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Virginia. He succeeds Cynthia Clark, who has led the organization since December 2018. COSSA congratulates Schroeder on his appointment and looks forward to continuing to work closely with COPAFS on issues affecting federal statistical agencies.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 12), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

National Academies Begins Series of Virtual Discussions on the Research Community’s Responses to COVID-19

On April 9, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) hosted the first event in a new virtual series discussing post-secondary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion series, which will take place over the course of several weeks, will bring together leaders from academia, industry, government, and civil society to address new developments in COVID-19 responses in different sectors of the research community. Each virtual event will touch on a specific topic on how researchers and their institutions can help support public health efforts.

The April 9 event, which focused on how researchers help the national response efforts, featured a panel discussion among Lisa Hirshhorn, Professor of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University; Michael Wells, Fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University and creator of the COVID-19 National Scientist Volunteer Database; Amy McDermott, science journalist for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Matthew Golden, Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington and Director of the Public Health Seattle King County HIV/STD program. Topics brought up during the discussion included the role of scientists as communicators to policymakers and health care professionals, barriers to COVID-19 research and what to be done to mitigate them, the curation of the COVID-19 National Scientist Volunteer Database, and long-term strategies for mobilizing scientists against COVID-19.

Future events in the discussion series will focus on topics such as how labs can shift research agendas, how scientists can be crowd-sourced to improve public information, how to provide faster policy advice, how to volunteer for the response effort, the implications of the global nature of the pandemic, and possible long term implications of postsecondary responses to the pandemic. More details about each event in the series and recordings of previous series discussions are available on the NASEM Eventbrite page.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 14), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

AAAS Accepting Nominations for 2021 Awards & Prizes

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has announced that the nominations process for several of its 2021 awards and prizes will open on April 15, 2020. The annual AAAS awards and prizes, which are announced at the AAAS Annual Meeting, recognize significant contributors to science and the public’s understanding of science.

The awards and prizes that will accept nominations include:

Award nominations for most awards will be accepted through June 30, 2020 except when noted. More details about each award and application information are available on the AAAS website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 14), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

National Academies Commemorate “Endless Frontier” Anniversary

The National Academy of Sciences, the Kavli Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation held a symposium “The Endless Frontier: The Next 75 Years in Science” on February 26. They symposium discussed the future development of science in the US, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Vannevar Bush’s landmark report Science: The Endless Frontier, which led to the creation of the National Science Foundation (which turned 70 this year).

Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), as well as Director of the White House Office of Science of Technology Policy (OSTP) Kelvin K. Droegemeier, all reminded the audience of challenges from China and mentioned the importance of securing the US’s Global leadership in sciences by adopting long-term perspectives and a national comprehensive approach. Sen. Alexander expressed confidence in the US leadership in science for the next 75 years, citing the particularly robust increase in federal funding for National Institute of Health (NIH) as well as increased investments in other science agencies. Sen. Alexander also highlighted the importance of energy research and suggested doubling investments in this area.

Rafael Reif, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), suggested adopting competitive strategies, such as investing in science education even after formal education ends, stapling “green cards to the diplomas” of excellent international students, and integrating social science in research agendas from the very beginning.

During her address to attendees, France A. Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), shared that NSF has funded many scientific projects that might have seemed nonsensical at first but ultimately turned out to be successful and essential. Córdova also noted NSF’s history of supporting STEM students of all backgrounds and increasing the representation of diverse communities in STEM.

Other panels included focused on “The Evolving Scientific Research Enterprise,” featuring a discussion on how the scientific enterprise must adapt over the next 75 years; “Science Engagement with the Public,” featuring actor Alan Alda and a discussion of the value of science communication; “America’s Unique Advantage: The Role of Government and Philanthropy in Supporting Our Research Enterprise;” “Evolution of the Government-University Research Partnership;” and “From Basic Research to Innovation and Economic Growth, and the Next 75 Years.” The complete agenda and a recording of the event can be found on the National Academies’ website.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s spring intern, Tracey Lan of New York University Shanghai.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 3), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Analysis Finds that STEM Supports Two Thirds of U.S. Jobs

A new analysis released on January 28 found that 67 percent of U.S. jobs and 69 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) are supported by science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The analysis, conducted by FTI Consulting on behalf of 10 leading U.S. scientific, engineering and industry organizations, including COSSA, found that STEM supports an outsized share of the U.S. economy and produces $2.3 trillion in federal tax revenue annually.

The analysis—STEM and the American Workforce—takes one of the most inclusive views of the scientific workforce to date, factoring in jobs that rely on STEM fields regardless of the level of education obtained by the employee and finds that six in ten U.S. STEM professionals do not hold a bachelor’s degree. A link to the press release and analysis can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 4), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

ICPSR Launches Pilot Tool to Streamline Access to Restricted Federal Data

In December, ICPSR at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research released a new tool to simplify the application process for accessing restricted microdata from principal statistical agencies. ResearchDataGov gives researchers access to a single portal and a standard application to access restricted data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau, National Center for Health Statistics, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. More federal data sources are expected to be added as the pilot moves forward.

The project is supported by funding from the Census Bureau under the direction of the White House Office of Management and Budget. It was created thanks to a requirement in the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, which required that the government simplify the application process for external researchers to access federal data (see COSSA’s previous coverage). More details can be found on the ICSPSR website.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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