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National Academies Releases Review of Minerva Initiative

The National Academies of Sciences’ Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences released Assessing the Minerva Research Initiative and the Contribution of Social Science to Addressing Security Concerns, a consensus study report assessing the impact, procedures, and direction of the Minerva Research Initiative. The Minerva Research Initiative is a grant program of the Department of Defense (DOD) that funds unclassified, university-based, basic research in the social sciences relevant to national security. The report discusses the program’s challenges and successes and offers recommendations to strengthen the program’s structure and help broaden its reach and usefulness.

The report includes recommendations for both the Minerva Research Initiative and the Department of Defense. It encourages DOD to ensure the Initiative has a leader with stature in a full-time, civil service position, to evaluate whether additional staff are needed, and to reduce the administrative burden on Minerva-funded grantees by streamlining the IRB process. The recommendations for the Initiative include refining its approach to topic selection, creating a strategic outreach plan, creating a centralized and public-facing database of projects, and broadening its engagement with the research community, including reaching out to early career researchers. Additionally, the study recommends the Initiative work to develop relationships with potential supporters of the program, including leadership at DOD, and to create a more robust monitoring and evaluation for grants. The complete report can be downloaded from the National Academies’ website.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 29), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

National Academy of Medicine Launches Healthy Longevity Global Competition

The National Academy of Medicine, with collaboration from the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health and several other global research organizations, has launched the Healthy Longevity Global Competition. This international competition seeks for researchers in the social sciences and other fields to submit research ideas aiming to extend the healthy human lifespan. The other participating global organizations are the Academia Sinica of Taiwan, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, EIT Health, the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, the Ministry of Health and National Research Foundation of Singapore, and UK Research and Innovation.

The competition will consist of three award phases:

  • Catalyst Phase: Up to 500 awards worth $50,000 each will be issued as seed funding for innovative research ideas.
  • Accelerator Phase: Select awardees from the Catalyst Phase who have demonstrated significant progress and innovation will be chosen to receive awards worth $500,000 or more.
  • Grand Prize: One or more prizes of up to $5 million will be awarded to breakthrough achievements in the extension of the healthy human lifespan.

Applications for the Catalyst Phase open in January 2020. More information about the competition can be found on the Healthy Longevity Global Competition website.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 29), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Jennifer Eberhardt Delivers 2019 Henry and Bryna David Lecture

On October 10, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) hosted the 2019 Henry and Bryna David Lecture featuring Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt. A social psychologist from Stanford University, Dr. Eberhardt’s lecture elaborated on her work investigating the consequences of the psychological association between race and crime. The Henry and Bryna David Lecture honors a leading innovator in the behavioral and social sciences. The awardee delivers a lecture and publishes an article in Issues in Science and Technology magazine based on the lecture. A video recording of the lecture and more information about the Henry and Bryna David Lecture can be found on the National Academies website.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 15), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

National Academies Hosts Official Launch of Decadal Survey for the Social and Behavioral Science for Advancing Intelligence Analysis

The National Academies of Sciences’ Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences (BBCSS) held a report launch event for the Decadal Survey of the Social and Behavioral Science: A Research Agenda for Advancing Intelligence Analysis on September 30. This event brought together members of the survey committee, representatives from the federal government, and research organizations to discuss findings, recommendations, and next steps for collaboration between research communities and the intelligence community. The report was published in March 2019 and was featured on COSSA Headlines in May. The September report launch event will be archived on the BBCSS website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 1), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

National Academies Release Report on Strengthening Support Systems for Military Families

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) released a consensus study report on the social challenges affecting the families of military service members and potential solutions. The report covers a wide array of issues including the well-being of military families, demographic characteristics of military families, opportunities and challenges of military life, stressors affecting military children, high-stress events, and the efficacy of existing military family support systems. The report also illustrates several recommendations for the Department of Defense (DOD) to address these issues including standardizing definitions of “family well-being,” improving understanding of diversity in the military, using data to track child risk and adversity, recognizing non-traditional family structures, providing guidance to military leaders on interacting with surrounding communities, promoting civilian understanding of military family situations, strengthening of the Military Family Readiness System (MFRS), monitoring existing support programs’ effectiveness, improving use of big data to analyze programs, and updating instruction and training to reflect the findings of the report.

The National Academies will be holding a public event on September 12 to discuss the recommendations in the report and potential actions that DOD and practitioners may take to address these recommendations. More information about the event can be found on the National Academies website.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 3), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

National Academies Releases Report on The Promise of Adolescence

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently published a consensus study report on  The Promise of Adolescence: Realizing Opportunity for All Youth, which details the neurobiological as well as the social and economic factors that affect adolescent mental and physical well-being and development. The report defines adolescence as beginning with the onset of puberty and ending in the mid-20s, and it claims that key areas of the brain mature and develop during this time. This process is impacted both by the biological components of development as well as the environmental factors and stressors surrounding it, which supports an epigenetic view on adolescence. After determining the biological and genetic components, this report delves into several policy recommendations regarding programs and policies affecting adolescents to bolster their mental and physical health as well as complement their natural brain development.

The policy recommendations surround four critical areas: education, the health system, the child welfare system, and the justice system. Within education, the report details the need to rectify disparities in resources, teach practical knowledge and emotional adaptability, and foster culturally sensitive learning environments, among others. Recommendations for the health system focus not just on providing adequate access to healthcare, but also on fostering independence among adolescents, improving training of providers, and supporting more data collection and research on adolescent-specific health services. The racial disparities and disconnect of systems related to child welfare and justice systems are also emphasized in this report, with calls for enacting policies that best support growth rather than establishing punitive and antagonistic measures.

This report hopes to highlight the collective responsibility that the U.S. has to build systems that support and promote resiliency and positive adolescent development so that young people can grow successfully.

More information about the report can be found on the NASEM website.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s summer intern, Joanna Hua of Cornell University.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 6), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

National Academies Release New Report on Adolescent Development

A new report on factors affecting the development of adolescents in the U.S. was released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM). The NASEM report, titled The Promise of Adolescence: Realizing Opportunity for All Youth, identifies the characteristics unique to adolescent brains as well as environmental challenges to the development of adolescent brains, especially economic, social, and racial inequities. The report also offers recommendations for the national education system, the health system, the child welfare system and the justice system to remedy the effects of inequalities on adolescent brain development. More information can be found on the NASEM website.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 28), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

May’s Headlines to Feature Deep Dive on Academies’ Decadal Survey of Social Science Applications for Intelligence Analysis

headlines bannerCOSSA members are encouraged to sign up for the monthly Headlines webchat on May 16, in which COSSA staff will recap the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month and answer participants’ questions. The May chat will feature a deep dive discussion with guests from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to discuss their recent consensus study report, A Decadal Survey of the Social and Behavioral Sciences: A Research Agenda for Advancing Intelligence Analysis. Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 14), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NASEM Report Analyzes Factors for Reproducibility and Replicability in Scientific Research

In response to a Congressional directive to conduct a comprehensive study of issues related to reproducibility and replicability of scientific research, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released a new report, Reproducibility and Replicability in Science. The consensus study report defines the terms “reproducibility” – or getting similar results using the same research methods – and “replicability” – getting similar results across multiple research methods – as they relate to research practices. The report sets forth several steps on how to improve the reproducibility and replicability of research, including identifying clear descriptions of how the reported result was reached, providing training for scientific institutions on proper statistical analysis, investing in tools and infrastructure that support reproducibility, encouraging journals to consider reproducibility factors in publications, and having the National Science Foundation (NSF) facilitate the sharing of data for NSF-funded research. The report also considers how the public’s confidence in scientific findings can be improved by two factors: first, that scientists avoid overstating the implications of their research to public-facing audiences, and second, that journalists report on scientific results with “as much context and nuance as the medium allows.” The full report can be found on the National Academies website.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 14), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

National Academies Seeking Community Input on First Phase of Alzheimer’s Decadal Survey

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released a call for white papers from the scientific and stakeholder communities on the first phase of a decadal survey focused on reducing the burden of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias (ADRD). Individuals and organizations, especially those in the fields of behavioral and social science research and aging at large, are encouraged to submit white papers providing direct input into the initial work of the decadal. White paper submissions are due June 15, 2019. More information and submission guidelines can be found on the National Academies’ website.

The decadal survey on AD and ADRD is being led by the National Academies’ Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) and is focused on assessing how research in the behavioral and social sciences can reduce the burden of individuals affected by AD and ADRD over the next decade. More information about the decadal survey can be found on the DBASSE website.

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Posted in Issue 9 (April 30), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

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