Blog Archives

SBE Calls for Proposals for International Collaborative Research to Aid Pandemic Recovery

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) has announced that it is participating in the Trans-Atlantic Platform Call for Proposals: Recovery, Renewal, and Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World (T-AP RRR). T-AP RRR is a grant competition that will support international collaborative research projects that address gaps in our understanding of the complex and dynamic societal effects of COVID-19. Proposals are asked to address one or more of the following challenges: reducing inequalities and vulnerabilities; building a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable society; fostering democratic governance and participation; advancing responsible and inclusive digital innovation; and/or ensuring effective and accurate communication and media. In addition, collaborative research teams must include researchers based in at least three participating countries and include partners from both sides of the Atlantic. More information is available in the Dear Colleague Letter. Submissions are due by July 12.

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Posted in Issue 9 (April 27), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

ECHO Program Seeks Comments on Collecting Pre-Conception Data

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a request for information (RFI) on improving the science of the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program (see COSSA’s previous coverage). NIH is interested in input from the external community on topics including (but not limited to) enhancing the program’s study origins of child health outcomes originating prior to conception, as well as more general strategies for maintaining scientific value while reducing the burden of primary data collection on participants and staff, addressing public health emergencies, enhancing recruitment and retention of diverse populations, and promoting diversity of the workforce related to child health. NIH will hold a webinar on May 6 to provide additional information on the RFI. Comments will be accepted through May 25. More information is available on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 9 (April 27), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

First 2020 Census Data Released; 7 Congressional Seats Change Hands

On April 26, the Census Bureau released the first data from the 2020 Census, including each state’s apportionment population counts (used to allocate seats to the U.S. House of Representatives and electoral college votes), resident population accounts, and overseas population counts. The release of the Constitutionally-required information was delayed due to the operational challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the additional time needed to correct duplicate and incomplete responses. Overall, seven Congressional seats will shift as a result of the 2020 Census. California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will each lose one Congressional seat, while Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Montana, and North Carolina will each gain one seat. Texas will gain two Congressional seats.

More detailed data on the populations of smaller geographic areas that states will use to redraw their individual Congressional districts is expected to be released in August. The next release will also include more detailed demographic information on race, ethnicity, age, and gender. As states await the publication of this information, several lawsuits are progressing through the courts attempting to force the Bureau to release the data earlier and to prevent it from adopting differential privacy techniques to keep individuals’ data anonymous. Stay tuned to all of COSSA’s 2020 Census coverage here.

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Posted in Issue 9 (April 27), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

NSB Seeks Nominations for 2022 Vacancies

Nominations are being sought for to fill eight upcoming vacancies on the National Science Board (NSB), the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF) that also serves as an independent advisor to the President and Congress on federal science policy. The Board consists of 24 members who serve staggered six-year terms, with the NSF director serving as a 25th ex officio member. Nominations are considered by the NSB, which makes recommendations to the White House and new members of the Board are appointed by the President. For the incoming class of 2022-2028, the NSB is particularly interested in individuals with expertise in cyberinfrastructure and computational science, private-sector technology management, translation/innovation/partnerships, promotion of diversity and minority serving institutions, geoscience, STEM education and the science of learning, and engineering. More on these and other selection criteria are available in the NSB’s Dear Colleague letter. More information on the nomination process is available on the NSB website. Nominations are due by May 31, 2021.

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Posted in Issue 9 (April 27), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

White House Nominates Rob Santos, Current ASA President, to Lead Census Bureau

President Biden has named Robert Santos, Vice President & Chief Methodologist at the Urban Institute, as his Administration’s choice to lead the Census Bureau. Santos, who is currently serving as the President of the American Statistical Association (ASA), a COSSA governing member, has had a distinguished career, holding positions at the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center, NORC at the University of Chicago, and ISR Temple University. According to the White House press release, he has expertise in “survey sampling, survey design and more generally in social science/policy research.” Santos has also served on the advisory committees for the Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics. If confirmed, Santos, who is Latinx, would be the first permanent director of color to lead the agency. He would take over from Acting Director Ron Jarmin, who has been leading the agency since the departure of Steven Dillingham (see previous coverage).

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 13), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Biden Preliminary FY 2022 R&D Proposals Rely on “DARPA” Model

On April 9, the Biden Administration released preliminary, high-level details of its fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request, referred to as a “skinny budget.” At this stage, details are only available for Cabinet-level departments and a handful of other “major” agencies, with limited details about some agencies within the departments. For example, it includes preliminary details for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but not for the Census Bureau. Full budget details will be released in the coming months. In the meantime, however, Congress is proceeding with the FY 2022 appropriations process without the Administration’s full proposals. Appropriators in both chambers have already held a number of hearings on the FY 2022 budget and are continuing to schedule appearances from federal officials, including the Director of the National Science Foundation, who is scheduled to testify before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees this week.

Unsurprisingly, given the Biden Administration’s early priorities, the request’s most prominent new research initiatives are proposed in the areas of climate change and public health. Two of the largest R&D proposals in the budget aim to replicate the model implemented by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), which aims to catalyze high-risk high-reward projects across government, academia, and industry. The request proposes a $1 billion investment in the existing Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E) and in the creation of a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate (ARPA-C) within the Department of Energy. These agencies would collectively support “high-risk, high-reward solutions for adaptation and resilience against the climate crisis and enable robust investments in clean energy technology research and development.” In its budget requests, the Trump Administration repeatedly proposed eliminating ARPA-E.

The Biden Administration proposes a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The budget proposes $6.5 billion for this new division, which is intended to “drive transformational innovation in health research and speed application and implementation of health breakthroughs” and would initially focus on diseases including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. The request also proposes an additional $2.5 billion in funding for NIH’s other institutes and centers, which combined with the ARPA-H funding would be a total of $51 billion for the agency ($9 billion above its FY 2021 level).

The request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proposes a total of $8.7 billion, an increase of $1.6 billion above the FY 2021 level. It includes a $100 million Community-Based Violence Intervention initiative that would, in collaboration with the Justice Department, implement evidence-based community violence interventions. The Administration also proposes doubling current funding for gun violence prevention research at the CDC and NIH, which would provide $25 million to each agency in FY 2022.

The Administration’s request for the National Science Foundation (NSF) would provide the agency with $10.2 billion, a 20 percent increase from its FY 2021 enacted level. The request would increase funding for NSF’s Research and Related Activities account, which houses most of its research directorates, including the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), by $1.6 billion, bringing it to a total of $9.4 billion. The request also repeats the proposal from the Biden Administration’s infrastructure plan (see related article) to establish a new directorate for technology and innovation.

The proposal would provide a total of $100 million in funding (a roughly 50 percent increase over FY 2021) for programs aiming to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in the sciences. According to the proposal, the funding would “support curriculum design, research on successful recruitment and retention methods, development of outreach or mentorship programs, fellowships, and building science and engineering research and education capacity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions.” In addition, the Administration proposes a $500 million increase ($1.2 billion total) for climate science and sustainability research. The proposal would fund a portfolio of research including on the “social, behavioral, and economic research on human responses to climate change.”

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 13), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Biden’s Infrastructure Proposal Includes $250 Billion in Research Funding

On March 31, the White House issued a fact sheet detailing many of the spending priorities in President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure initiative, the American Jobs Plan. The proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill addresses a wide range of pressing needs related to infrastructure and economic revitalization. Included is $180 billion to “Invest in R&D and Technologies of the Future” and an extra $70 billion for research-related priorities such as pandemic preparedness and innovation in rural communities, totaling $250 billion specifically for the U.S. research enterprise. Many of the details are still unclear, although the fact sheet names where much of this funding would be allocated:

  • $50 billion for the National Science Foundation over an unspecified period of time, some of which would be allocated for a new technology directorate.
  • $40 billion for upgrading research facilities, likely both national laboratories and university laboratories. One-half of this money would be allocated to minority-serving institutions (MSIs) such as historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), some of which for a new national climate research lab.
  • $35 billion for the development of technologies that address climate change and enhance clean energy and green jobs. The plan also calls for a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate (ARPA-C).
  • $30 billion for R&D targeting innovation and economic growth in rural communities.
  • $25 billion specifically for MSIs, $10 billion of which for research funding and $15 billion to establish “centers of excellence” to train students in science and engineering fields.
  • $14 billion for the National Institute of Standards and Technology over an unspecified period of time.

COSSA will be closely following this and other infrastructure proposals and will share details as they are released.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 13), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Trump-Era Visa Restriction for Skilled Foreign Workers Expires

The Biden White House has decided not to renew a proclamation issued by former President Trump that restricted foreign travel to the United States. The now-defunct proclamation was notable for restricting the availability of the H1-B visa for skilled foreign workers, a category of visa that is commonly used by scientific and academic organizations to recruit international STEM workers and scientists. First implemented in June 2020 and extended through the end of March 2021, the proclamation was widely criticized by the scientific community as stifling the scientific workforce and harming relationships with global scientific talent (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). The Biden Administration’s decision to nix the policy is one of many pivots away from Trump-era immigration restrictions in science in favor of international collaboration. A list of other reversed immigration restrictions is available on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 13), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

NIH Releases Minority Health and Health Disparities Strategic Plan for 2021-2025

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released its strategic plan for 2021 through 2025 to advance minority health and health disparities research across all NIH institutes, offices, and centers. The strategic plan, which was developed with input across the NIH and the minority health and health disparity research community, lays out goals and strategies for the agency to advance additional scientific research, support research-adjacent activities, and expand outreach and strategic communications on minority health and health disparities. These goals and strategies include:

  • Promoting research to understand and improve the health of racial and ethnic minority populations.
  • Advancing scientific understanding of the causes of health disparities.
  • Developing and testing interventions to reduce disparities.
  • Creating and improving scientific methods to support health disparities research.
  • Supporting trainings and career advancement to enhance diversity and promote minority health and health disparities research.
  • Strengthening capacity to conduct minority health and health disparities research.
  • Ensuring representation of minority and other health disparity populations in NIH-funded research.
  • Promoting evidence-based community engagement of best practices.
  • Cultivating and expanding the community of minority health and health disparities researchers and advocates.

Both the strategic plan and an interactive webpage to explore the contents of the plan are available on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 13), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

NSF Webinar Will Highlight Cross-Agency Funding Opportunities for Social Scientists

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) will hold a webinar on April 15 to highlight the opportunity for social scientists to participate in several major NSF-wide initiatives, including Trust and Authenticity in Communications Systems, Understanding the Rules of Life: Emergent Networks, mid-scale research infrastructure and others. Featured speakers will include NSF Assistant Director Arthur Lupia, head of the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate, and Douglas Maughan, head of NSF’s Convergence Accelerator Program. Information on registering is available here. Additional information about the webinar is available on the NSF website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 13), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

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