Blog Archives

NSF Creates Resource Webpage for Information on COVID-19

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has established a resource webpage compiling relevant information about NSF activities addressing the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. Some of the resources available on the webpage include a FAQ about NSF awards, a document describing NSF’s implementation of an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directive, a Dear Colleague Letter inviting research proposals through the Rapid Response Research (RAPID) program, and a list of  NSF deadlines that have changed due to COVID-19. This resource page is frequently updated to include the most relevant and accurate information.

In addition, on March 30, leadership from the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) circulated a letter to the social and behavioral science community providing additional details on NSF’s COVID-19 resources and encouraging proposals from SBE fields.

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Posted in Issue 7 (March 31), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

France Córdova Ends Tenure as NSF Director; Timeline for Confirming New Director Unclear

National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova finished her six-year term as the head of the agency on March 31, 2020. Córdova, an astrophysicist and former Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of California at Santa Barbara, served as NSF Director since 2014. A farewell message from Córdova to NSF staff is available on the NSF website.

In January 2020, the White House announced the nomination of Sethuraman Panchanathan to succeed Córdova as NSF Director (see COSSA’s previous coverage). However, no hearing has yet been scheduled for Panchanathan’s consideration for the Senate-confirmed position due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Due to these complications in the schedule, the timeline for the Senate to consider Panchanathan for NSF Director remains unclear. COSSA will provide more details as they become available.

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Posted in Issue 7 (March 31), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NSF Releases Report on Social Science Doctoral Recipients

The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), the principal statistical agency within the National Science Foundation (NSF), released a report on “Doctorate Recipients in the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE).” The report is part of a series of profiles highlighting trends in education related to each of NSF’s seven research directorates. The SBE report presents data on doctorates received in psychology, economics, sociology, political science, and other social sciences from NCSES’s Survey of Earned Doctorates and Survey of Doctorate Recipients. The full report and associated data tables are available on the NCSES website.

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Posted in Issue 7 (March 31), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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. Guidelines for recommendations and committee contact information can be found in the federal register. Recommendations for membership are maintained for 12 months.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 17), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NSF Announces New Collaboration between SBE and Minority-Serving Institutions

On February 24, the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a Dear Colleague Letter announcing the new Build and Broaden initiative, a collaborative effort between the SBE Directorate and Minority-Serving Institutions. The initiative invites proposals for research conferences intended to promote ideas and partnerships in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences at Minority-Serving Institutions.

Conference proposals for Build and Broaden are due May 1, 2020. The Dear Colleague Letter and more information are found on the NSF website.

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

NSF Releases Responses to JASON Research Security Report

On March 2, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released the agency’s response to a December 2019 report providing recommendations and best practices for NSF and NSF’s awardee organizations to address research security concerns while maintaining openness and collaboration in research environments. The report, conducted by the independent scientific advisory group JASON, was commissioned by NSF in 2019 in the wake of concerns about foreign governments interfering with or stealing intellectual property and research findings from U.S. research institutions.

The most notable NSF response is the announcement of the appointment of Dr. Rebecca Spyke Keiser to the newly-created position of Chief of Research Security Strategy and Policy. Keiser had previously served as the leader of NSF’s Office of International Science and Engineering and begins her role as Chief of Research Security Strategy and Policy effective March 2020.

NSF also outlined several other agency actions addressing the JASON report’s recommendations:

  • NSF has clarified the disclosure requirements of foreign and domestic research support in the revised Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) and now requires the submission of biographical sketches;
  • NSF has investigated incidents related to improper affiliations with foreign talent recruitment programs and coordinated with the NSF Office of Inspector General (OIG);
  • NSF has reached out to NSF awardee institutions to harmonize practices;
  • NSF is using the Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) framework to identify potential risks in research security;
  • NSF has initiated training programs in scientific ethics with the assistance from the Association of American Universities (AAU) and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and will pursue further training led by the new Chief of Research Security Strategy and Policy;
  • The National Science Board has reaffirmed NSDD-189, a long-standing policy supporting openness and transparency in fundamental research and discouraging regulations;
  • NSF has engaged with intelligence agencies to assess the risks of foreign influence in research while reaffirming the importance of foreign researchers to the U.S. research enterprise;
  • NSF has met with colleagues from several foreign countries to discuss research partnerships and intends to engage with foreign research communities at the May 2020 Global Research Council annual meeting in South Africa to promote continued international collaboration; and
  • NSF will continue to support programs that foster and develop research talent in the U.S. including Graduate Research Fellowships and the INCLUDES program.

The full response can be found on the NSF website. Read COSSA’s Hot Topic on research security for more information about the JASON report and other recent research security actions.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 3), 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)

NSF Celebrates 70 Years

On February 6-7, the National Science Foundation (NSF) hosted a symposium celebrating the 70th anniversary of the agency’s creation. The first day looked back at NSF’s history and featured discussions highlighting some the greatest scientific breakthroughs over the last seven decades as well as a discussion on the evolution of the agency itself featuring six previous NSF Directors alongside current Director France Córdova. The second day brought the discussion back to the present with a session about NSF’s 10 Big Ideas, a panel on “Industries of the Future” featuring representatives from Google, IBM, and others within the private sector, and a presentation from the National Science Board on its Vision 2030 task force, which is working to develop a vision for the agency for the next decade.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 18), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NSF Invites Proposal Submissions on 2026 Idea Machine Finalist Themes

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is requesting proposals for the NSF 2026 Idea Machine themes and activities for finalist applicants. The NSF 2026 Idea Machine is a prize competition for emerging science, engineering, or learning research challenge. Thirty-three finalists were selected from over 800 applicants. NSF is now seeking project proposals to enrich the activities the Idea Machine finalists will participate in, specifically in conference activities and in Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) projects testing the ideas and concepts coming from the finalists. EAGER project outlines are due March 1, 2020 and conference proposals are due March 15, 2020. More information can be found on the NSF website.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 18), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

House Republicans Introduce Bill to Reauthorize Science Agencies

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced the Securing American Leadership in Science and Technology Act (H.R. 5685), a bill to reauthorize science agencies, on January 29. Science Committee Democrats are working on their own science agency reauthorization legislation, but details have not yet been released for the agencies most important to the social sciences. COSSA will report on the majority’s proposals when they are released.

The Republicans’ legislation proposes doubling basic research funding over the next ten years at the Department of Energy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The legislation also includes support for clean energy infrastructure, resources for growing the STEM workforce, and modernization of Antarctic science and conservation programs.

The minority’s bill would increase NSF’s budget, which is currently just over $8 billion, to more than $14 billion by 2029 and recognizes the importance of the agency’s support for fundamental research across all disciplines of science and engineering. Additionally, the bill directs NSF to undergo several specific activities including, developing ethics and security plans for research, supporting more mid-scale research infrastructure, and awarding grants to support research and training related to scientific reproducibility. The bill also proposes an external review of NSF’s structure and support for cross-disciplinary research.

While the bill includes several marked changes from Republican science reauthorization proposals of the past, it is not likely to be taken up by the Science, Space, and Technology Committee or the full House of Representatives, which are both under Democratic control. However, it is possible that provisions from the Republican bill could make it into legislation developed by the Democrats. More information about the bill and a copy of the legislation, can be viewed on the Science Committee Republican’s website.

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

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