Blog Archives

CNSF Hosts 24th Annual Capitol Hill Exhibition

On May 9, the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), of which COSSA is a member, hosted its 24th Annual Capitol Hill Exhibition and Reception, titled “Investments in Scientific and Educational Research: Fueling American Innovation.” Several COSSA member associations and universities featured researchers whose work has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The event seeks to highlight the importance of NSF-supported basic research with policymakers. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) produced a video featuring some of the presenters. COSSA co-sponsored the event.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 29), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

House Appropriations Subcommittees Begin Marking Up Spending Legislation

The House Appropriations Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) and Agriculture and Rural Development (Ag) hosted markups last week on drafts of their fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending bills. The CJS bill, which is responsible for funding the Census, the Department of Justice, and federal science agencies, among other programs, includes $8.2 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a $408 million increase above the FY 2018 enacted amount. The Ag bill, which includes funding for the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, does not endorse the large cut to the Economic Research Service (ERS) proposed in the President’s FY 2019 budget request. Full details of the committee’s spending recommendations are not yet public, but COSSA will provide complete analysis of the spending bills as language is made available. Stay tuned to COSSA’s coverage here. Both bills are scheduled to be considered by the full Appropriations Committee later this week.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 15), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

National Science Board Elects New Leadership

On May 3, the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation, announced that Diane Souvaine and Ellen Ochoa will serve as the Board’s new Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, for the 2018-2020 term. Souvaine has been a member of the NSB for ten years and most recently served as the Vice Chair. Souvaine is a professor of computer science at Tufts University whose research contributions include solving challenging problems in computational geometry and helping extend the results of straight-edged computational geometry into the curved world. Ochoa is an astronaut and the director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Souvaine will be replacing Maria Zuber, whose term expired this month. More information about Souviane and Ochoa’s election is available on the NSB website.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 15), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Psychologist Kristina R. Olson Receives Alan T. Waterman Award

On April 12, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that the 2018 Alan T. Waterman Award, the nation’s highest honor for early career scientists and engineers, would go to social and developmental psychologist Kristina R. Olson of the University of Washington. Olson is the first social scientist to receive the award since 2005 and is recognized for her “innovative contributions to understanding children’s attitudes toward and identification with social groups, early prosocial behavior, the development of notions of fairness, morality, inequality and the emergence of social biases.” More information can be found here. Olson and other awardees will be recognized at a ceremony in Washington on May 2.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 17), 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 Releases Additional Details of FY 2019 Budget Request

On February 28, full details of the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request for the National Science Foundation (NSF) were released. Preliminary details were unveiled on February 12 with the rest of the President’s FY 2019 budget.

The President’s request includes a total of $7.5 billion for NSF in FY 2019, which is flat with the FY 2017 enacted level (Note: FY 2018 appropriations have not yet been completed, so comparisons are made to the last enacted level). As previously reported, prior to enactment last month of a bipartisan budget deal to raise discretionary spending caps, the Administration’s budget proposal for NSF was $5.3 billion, a nearly 30 percent cut to the agency. Unfortunately, the newly released details show that the additional funding associated with raising the caps would not be spread evenly across the foundation. Instead, the request seeks to reprioritize funds toward NSF’s Big Ideas initiatives at the expense of several existing programs and activities. Of particular concern is the disproportionate treatment of the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) in the request, which would see a cut of 9.1 percent from FY 2017 (11.2 percent to its research and education activities). This is compared to the other directorates that would be held flat or cut by one or two percent.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the NSF FY 2019 Budget Request.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Issues 2018-2022 Strategic Plan

Alongside the release of the fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request (see related article), the National Science Foundation issued its latest five-year strategic plan, Building the Future: Investing in Discovery and Innovation, NSF Strategic Plan for FY 2018-2022. The new report outlines the agency’s strategic goals and objectives, which include: (1) expand knowledge in science, engineering, and learning; (2) advance the capability of the Nation to meet current and future challenges; and (3) enhance NSF’s performance of its mission.

The plan also states that a “Performance Plan for FY 2019” has been developed and that it includes the following “Agency Priority Goal”: “Expand public and private partnerships to enhance the impact of NSF’s investments and contribute to American economic competitiveness and security.” Regarding this goal, the strategic plan states that “by September 30, 2019, NSF’s number of partnerships and/or award actions with other federal agencies, private industry, and foundations/philanthropies will grow by 5 percent…” The plan also lists three long-term performance goals: (1) ensure that key FY 2019 NSF-wide program investments are implemented and on track; (2) ensure program integrity and responsible stewardship of major research facilities and infrastructure; and (3) inform applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding in a timely manner. Full details of NSF’s FY 2019 Performance Plan are not currently public since NSF has not yet released its complete FY 2019 budget request.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Senate Commerce Committee Hears Updates from NSF, NIST Leaders

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation featured Dr. France Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Dr. Walter Copan, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in a hearing on January 30 to examine the implementation of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA). AICA was signed into law during the final days of the Obama Administration in January 2017. AICA’s priorities included maximizing basic research, improving STEM education, and encouraging commercialization and technology transfer opportunities. Both NSF and NIST have taken many steps toward implementing the law including increasing oversight and accountability at both agencies and emphasizing the priorities of the act at their agencies. Dr. Córdova’s written testimony included a complete analysis of the steps NSF has taken to comply with the policy directives in the AICA.

During the hearing, Senators from both parties expressed concern about the U.S. being surpassed by China and other countries in terms of funding for science and innovation and called for continued diligence on the part of Congress and federal science agencies to maintain the U.S.’s position as the world’s leading innovator. Many Senators also discussed the importance of extending research opportunities and STEM education to diverse populations including community colleges, colleges and universities in EPSCoR states, minority communities, and women.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

National Science Board Releases Policy Statement on U.S. STEM-Capable Workforce

On February 1, the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF),  released a companion policy statement to the 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators entitled “Our Nation’s Future Competitiveness Relies on Building a STEM-Capable U.S. Workforce.” The statement highlights the Board’s view that growing the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is critical to our economy and global competitiveness. The NSB also emphasized in its statement that STEM is not just for researchers with advanced degrees, but for all Americans and all segments of our population. More details can be found on the NSB website.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSF Releases 2018 Science & Engineering Indicators

The National Science Board (NSB), the Presidentially-appointed advisory body to the National Science Foundation (NSF), has released the 2018 edition of its Science and Engineering Indicators, a congressionally-mandated compendium of data “relevant to the scope, quality, and vitality of the science and engineering (S&E) enterprise.” Published every two years, the indicators compile data on science and engineering education and the STEM workforce, international comparisons, and public attitudes toward science and engineering.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 23), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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