FYI: Science Policy News
WEEK OF NOV 6, 2023
What’s Ahead

Mobile Radar Truck NOAA.jpg

A mobile radar truck deployed during a Great Plains storm study in 2022.

(Leia Otterstatter / National Severe Storms Lab)

Major Weather Research Policy Bill Advancing in House

The House Science Committee will meet on Wednesday to consider amendments to a major weather research policy bill and then vote to advance it to the House floor. Called the Weather Act Reauthorization, the legislation builds on a 2017 law that updated policy for weather research and forecasting programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Updating the law is a top priority of Science Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK), who was an architect of provisions in it that expanded NOAA’s use of data collected from non-government observation platforms. The new bill proposes Congress appropriate $100 million per year to NOAA’s Commercial Data Program and would permit the agency to “acquire any type of surface-based, airborne-based, space-based, or coastal- and ocean-based data, metadata, or service for operational use,” according to the committee. To date, the program has largely focused on piloting the use of commercial radio occultation data and recently began piloting data relating to space weather and ocean surface winds.

NIH Director Nominee Bertagnolli Poised for Confirmation

The nomination of National Cancer Institute Director Monica Bertagnolli to lead the National Institutes of Health is up for debate on the Senate floor this week. Her nomination advanced through committee on a 15-6 vote on Oct. 25 and no obstacles are expected to hinder her confirmation at this point. NIH has a budget of close to $50 billion and has lacked a Senate-confirmed director for nearly two years. NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak has been serving as acting director during that time.

Rural STEM Education Study Kicks Off

The newly formed National Academies study panel on K-12 STEM Education and Workforce Development in Rural Areas will hold its first meeting on Monday and Tuesday. Responding to a provision in the CHIPS and Science Act, the panel is tasked with examining the availability and effectiveness of existing federal programs that support rural STEM education. The panel will also work with the Federal Communications Commission to assess the impact that scarce broadband access has on STEM and technical literacy in rural areas. The National Science Foundation is sponsoring this work and representatives of the NSF will speak during an open session of the meeting, which will also feature staffers from the House Science Committee and experts in rural STEM education. The panel is co-chaired by Katharine Frase, former vice president of business development at IBM, and Tiffany Neill, a research scientist at the University of Washington Institute for Science and Math Education.

Physics Advisory Panels Convening

The advisory committee for the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate at the National Science Foundation will meet on Wednesday and Thursday. A subcommittee tasked with recommending how the directorate should prioritize major facility projects will present its final report, which builds on an initial report the subcommittee published in March 2022. Other agenda items include an update on concepts for a next-generation gravitational wave observatory and presentations on the latest committee of visitors reviews of the directorate’s astronomy and materials research divisions. The directorate is currently led on an acting basis by Denise Caldwell, who stepped into the role in October following the departure of Sean Jones to Argonne National Lab. Caldwell previously led the directorate’s physics division, which is now led on an acting basis by Jean Cottam.

Separately, the National Academies’ Board on Physics and Astronomy will meet on Wednesday and Thursday. The event will include a panel discussion with the leaders of the “international benchmarking” reports the Department of Energy commissioned to examine the competitiveness of its Basic Energy Sciences, High Energy Physics, Fusion Energy Sciences, and Biological and Environmental Research programs. The board will also hear a presentation from the spokesperson of China’s Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Observatory (JUNO), which plans to begin collecting data next year.

In Case You Missed It


House Science Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) stands next to a piece of an IBM quantum computer displayed in the committee room.

(House Science Committee)

National Quantum Initiative Update Introduced in House

Leaders of the House Science Committee introduced legislation last week that would update the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018. The original legislation created a multiagency quantum information science R&D program anchored by a network of QIS centers funded by the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation. The new bill would call for an expanded network of centers, directing NASA to establish one focused on space and aeronautics applications of quantum science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish up to three centers focused on quantum engineering, sensing, and measurement. In addition, it would direct NSF to create testbeds for quantum technology R&D and a multidisciplinary hub focused on quantum curriculum and workforce development. It also instructs DOE to establish “quantum foundries” to meet the device and material needs of the quantum supply chain.

The bill recommends funding targets for these activities but does not itself provide funds for them. The original legislation did spur significant increases to federal funding for QIS, though Congress ultimately did not meet the amounts the legislation recommended. Aside from its funding targets, the new bill would direct the White House to develop a strategy to encourage research partnerships with U.S. allies and promote the responsible development and deployment of QIS. It also would prohibit certain agency QIS programs from funding projects involving foreign countries or entities of concern.

AI Executive Order Aims to Expand STEM Visa Pathways

The executive order on AI issued last week by President Joe Biden includes a bundle of provisions that aim to ease visa requirements for students and workers in a broad range of STEM fields. The provisions apply to individuals seeking visas for work or study related to the White House’s list of critical and emerging technologies. The order directs the Department of Homeland Security and State Department to consider permitting such individuals to renew their visas in the U.S. rather than returning to their home countries. It also instructs DHS to consider changing the H-1B skilled visa program to make it easier for experts in critical and emerging technologies to become lawful permanent residents, and to modify the O-1A, EB-1, and EB-2 visa programs to admit more individuals of “extraordinary ability.” In addition, the Labor Department is directed to put out a request-for-information notice within 45 days on the possibility of adding AI and “other STEM-related occupations” to the list of Schedule A occupations, which would make it easier for U.S. companies to hire foreign workers into those positions.

House Details Science Spending Proposals Ahead of Floor Votes

The House Appropriations Committee posted a document last week that details its spending proposals for NASA, the National Science Foundation, and Commerce Department science agencies. The committee also detailed its proposals for the National Institutes of Health in a separate document. Among the most notable items is that the House legislation would meet the administration’s $949 million budget request for the Mars Sample Return mission while spreading cuts across other NASA science programs, in contrast to the Senate’s proposal to slash funding for the Mars mission while generally keeping funding for other activities steady. Republican appropriators also elaborate on their push to reinstate the Justice Department’s China Initiative, defund certain climate research and workforce diversity programs at science agencies, and block the White House’s policy requiring federally funded journal articles and data to be freely available upon publication. Democrats have proposed amendments to the legislation that would strike the provision blocking the White House public access policy and the provisions defunding diversity and climate programs. The House Rules Committee will decide which of the amendments will receive votes on the House floor.

Lucas Protests DOE Preference for Unionized Labor in Infrastructure Projects

House Science Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) sent a letter to the Department of Energy last week expressing concerns about recent changes to its funding opportunity announcements, especially the “community benefits plans” required as part of applications for funding through the Inflation Reduction Act or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The requirement has been included in about 40 FOAs across DOE’s renewable energy and clean energy demonstrations offices this year, according to the letter. The plans must outline how applicants will address four of the Biden administration’s policy priorities: “investing in America’s workforce; engaging communities and labor; advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and implementing Justice 40.” In its guidance, DOE encourages applicants to “provide specific detail on how to ensure the delivery of measurable community and jobs benefits, e.g., through milestones and the use of tools such as good neighbor agreements, local hire agreements, project labor agreements, other collective bargaining agreements, or similar agreements.” Lucas argues this language violates federal regulations that prohibit federal contractors from encouraging or discouraging unionization. The letter requests that DOE provide information about the development of the new requirements, how they might affect organizations using non-unionized labor, and any guidance the department plans to provide to industry about the changes.

cOAlition S Seeks Feedback on New Open Access Proposal

Open access consortium cOAlition S, which comprises mostly European research funding bodies, published a proposal on Oct. 31 that aims to accelerate the adoption of open access policies and practices. The proposal would give authors more control over when and where they publish their work and pushes for all versions of articles – not just the peer-reviewed version of record – to be published openly and without delay. If adopted at scale, the proposal would fundamentally change the scholarly publishing landscape, with publishers no longer determining what research they will publish and when but rather providing services such as copy-editing and typesetting on a fee-for-service basis. A survey to provide initial feedback on the proposal is open until Nov. 29

Upcoming Events

All times are Eastern Daylight Time, unless otherwise noted. Listings do not imply endorsement. Events beyond this week are listed on our website.

Monday, November 6

National Academies: Polar Research Board fall meeting
(continues Thursday)

National Academies: “K-12 STEM Education and Workforce Development in Rural Areas,” kickoff meeting
(continues Tuesday)

National Academies: “Charting a Responsible Future in AI and Biosecurity,” session one
12:00 - 1:30 pm

Tuesday, November 7

National Academies: Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board meeting
(continues Wednesday)

CSIS: Project Atom report launch
9:00 am - 2:00 pm

Stimson: “Global Governance for a Contested Space Domain”
10:00 am - 2:45 pm

National Academies: “Generative AI and the Implications for Science Communication”
3:00 - 4:30 pm

Wednesday, November 8

NSF: Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Thursday)

National Academies: Board on Physics and Astronomy meeting
(continues Thursday)

DOD: Defense Science Board meeting
(continues Thursday)

BIS: Emerging Technology Technical Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Thursday)

Senate: “The Philosophy of AI: Learning From History, Shaping Our Future”
9:30 am, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

House: Meeting to advance the Weather Act Reauthorization
10:00 am, Science Committee

House: “Burdensome Regulations: Examining the Effects of DOE Regulations on America’s Job Creators”
10:00 am, Small Business Committee

Wilson Center: “The Enduring Role of Legacy Semiconductors”
10:00 - 11:00 am

NIST: Industrial Advisory Committee meeting
10:30 am - 3:30 pm

National Academies: “Development of a Plan to Promote Defense Research at HBCUs, TCUs, and HSIs,” DOD strategic engagement session two
11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Nuclear Threat Initiative: “The Convergence of AI and the Life Sciences”
12:00 - 1:00 pm

House: “Advances in Deepfake Technology”
2:00 pm, Oversight Committee

Bipartisan Policy Center: “Tackling America’s Visa Backlog”
2:00 - 3:00 pm

Senate: “Policy Considerations for Artificial Intelligence in Health Care”
2:30 pm, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

Senate: “Reforming the Patent Trial and Appeal Board – The PREVAIL Act and Proposals to Promote U.S. Innovation Leadership”
2:30 pm, Judiciary Committee

Thursday, November 9

NRC: Meeting on proposed regulations for fusion energy systems
1:00 - 4:00 pm

Friday, November 10

No events.

Sunday, November 12

American Nuclear Society: Winter Conference and Expo
(continues through Wednesday)

Monday, November 13

NASA: Planetary Science Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Tuesday)

National Academies: Committee on Solar and Space Physics meeting
(continues Tuesday)

Know of an upcoming science policy event either inside or outside the Beltway? Email us at


National Science Policy Network Hiring Membership Director

The National Science Policy Network, a nonprofit group dedicated to engaging early-career scientists in policymaking, is hiring its first full-time director of membership. Applications for the role will be accepted until the position is filled.

West Virginia University Seeking Science Policy Fellows

West Virginia University’s Bridge Initiative for Science and Technology Policy, Leadership, and Communications is now reviewing applications for two remote science and technology policy fellows. The paid six-month fellowship begins in January and requires applicants to have finished their doctorate or terminal degree but does not require them to be located in West Virginia. Experience working in public policy and Appalachia is considered an asset. Applications are due Dec. 1.

NIH Imaging and Bioengineering Institute Seeking Research Administration Director

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering is seeking a new director of its Office of Research Administration. The director will oversee the grant-management activities of the institute, offer advice on extramural research policy, and serve as its Research Integrity Officer and Appeals Officer. Applications are due Nov. 28.

Know of an opportunity for scientists to engage in science policy? Email us at

Around the Web

News and views currently in circulation. Links do not imply endorsement.

White House

White House: Vice President Harris announces new US initiatives to advance the safe and responsible use of artificial intelligence
FedScoop: Biden’s AI executive order calls for new regulatory strategies for federal use of the technology and more AI jobs within the government
Politico: AI executive order pushes a raft of policy priorities on an industry not used to being regulated
MIT Technology Review: Experts say AI executive order’s emphasis on content labeling, watermarking, and transparency represents important steps forward


Politico: Senators push to give Biden’s AI order more teeth
The Hill: Looming shutdown sparks worries about CHIPS funding rollout
House Oversight Committee: Republicans investigate NSF’s research security
National Academies: Fusion energy: Seizing our opportunity for a clean energy future (perspective by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA))
Politico: Senate Republicans introduce a climate bill — aimed at China
Inside Climate News: To call House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) a climate skeptic is ‘generous,’ says League of Conservation Voters representative (interview)
Roll Call: Senate push for shorter stopgap sets up collision with House GOP
Roll Call: House Appropriations Committee Chair Granger won’t seek reelection in 2024

Science, Society, and the Economy

Research Professional: Israel-Hamas war: Researchers living under attack
Washington Post: Why many scientists are now saying climate change is an all-out ‘emergency’
The Conversation: When science showed in the 1970s that gas stoves produced harmful indoor air pollution, the industry reached for tobacco’s PR playbook (perspective by Jonathan Levy)
MIT Technology Review: People shouldn’t pay such a high price for calling out AI harms
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Investments in research pay big returns for Minnesota (perspective by Sethuraman Panchanathan and Jeff Ettinger)
MIT Technology Review: Technology is an engine for problems – both solving them and creating new ones. What role should it play going forward? (editorial)

Education and Workforce

NSF: NSF appoints new special assistant to the director for sexual assault and harassment prevention and response implementation
Science: Should scientists include their race, gender, or other personal details in papers?
Science: UK funding agency suspends diversity panel following pressure from science minister
Nature: Researchers revolt against weekend conferences
Research Professional: AI-driven research risks eroding the science base (Kieron Flanagan et al.)
Research Professional: Generative AI makes fraud an existential threat to science (perspective by Jorge Quintanilla)
FedScoop: With AI adoption, agency officials say they need an educated workforce that’s not ‘fearful’ of the technology

Research Management

Issues in Science and Technology: With the growth of ‘ARPA-everything,’ it’s time to start testing predictions about what makes the model succeed (perspective by Adam Russell)
Issues in Science and Technology: Building a culture of risk-taking (perspective by Jennifer Gerbi)
Issues in Science and Technology: No, we don’t need another ARPA (perspective by John Paschkewitz and Dan Patt)
China Talk: RAND CEO Jason Matheny gives a masterclass on risk and organizational design (audio interview)
Nature: Protect the ‘right to science’ for people and the planet (perspective by Volker Türk)
Research Professional: Fully open access publishers to be supported by Swedish funders
Chronicle of Higher Education: Carnegie is changing how it classifies R1 institutions. Will your university make the cut?

Labs and Facilities

Science: First plasma fired up at Japan’s JT-60SA tokamak, the world’s largest fusion reactor
Physics World: Petition calls on UK to save JET fusion experiment from closure
Science|Business: ITER project should get political, says Christian Ehler MEP
Fermilab: Pantaleo Raimondi to be new leader of Fermilab’s PIP-II accelerator project
Fermilab: Fermilab welcomes Rae Moss as new head of communication
STScI: Jennifer Lotz appointed Space Telescope Science Institute director
NNSA: NNSA publishes final site-wide environmental impact statement for Lawrence Livermore National Lab
Reuters: Biggest Chinese Antarctic fleet sets off to build research station

Computing and Communications

Physics Today: Though quantum computers are still a decade or more away, NIST is finalizing new encryption standards
Nature: Keeping secrets in a quantum world China plans to take ‘hack-proof’ quantum satellite technology to new heights
Science|Business: What this week’s flurry of AI policymaking means for researchers
Physics World: What role should physicists play in AI safety?
NSF: NSF announces $16 million to strengthen and diversify AI research capacity
NSF: NSF invests $10.9 million in the development of safe AI technologies


Planetary Society: What went wrong with Mars Sample Return (interview with Orlando Figueroa)
SpaceNews: NASA delays Artemis lunar rover award by four months
NASA: NASA’s Lucy spacecraft discovers second asteroid during Dinkinesh flyby
Undark: NASA’s new push to track unexplained objects (interview with David Spergel)
Washington Post: How NASA plans to change the way people fly to the Moon
Washington Post: Space junk is out of control. Here’s why — and what to do about it (editorial)
SpaceNews: Senate passes orbital debris bill
House Science Committee: Babin and Lucas introduce legislation to modernize commercial space sector
Space Review: Shaking up the commercial space station industry
SpaceNews: Netherlands and Iceland sign Artemis Accords

Weather, Climate, and Environment China launches pair of Earth-mapping satellites
E&E News: An archeologist shortage could stifle the climate law
Politico: Economic blows batter Biden’s clean energy goals
New York Times: Carbon emissions budget to hit Paris Accord goals is now smaller
New York Times: 35 years after addressing Congress, James Hansen has more climate warnings
New York Times: Clash over ‘fossil fuels’ pits UAE against public health experts
Physics Today: Extreme weather makes monitoring snowpack increasingly relevant


E&E News: ‘Fix was in’: Republicans see politics in DOE hydrogen awards
DOE: Biden-Harris administration announces $1.3 billion to build out nation’s electric transmission and releases new study identifying critical grid needs
E&E News: Biden approves nation’s largest offshore wind farm
The Atlantic: The solar-panel backlash is here


Defense News: US to build new nuclear gravity bomb
DOE: NNSA partners with Jordan to remove all of its radioactive blood irradiators
Physics Today: Proponents of Project Plowshare argued for ‘peaceful’ uses of nuclear explosives, but it didn’t outweigh the costs (perspective by Hannah Pell)
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: The climate blind spot in nuclear weapons policy (perspective by Cameron Vega)
RAND: Alternative futures for digital infrastructure: Insights and considerations for DOD (report)
New York Times: Tech start-ups try to sell a cautious Pentagon on AI
DefenseScoop: Army issues new RFIs for Project Linchpin artificial intelligence initiative
Politico: Pentagon announces long-awaited UFO reporting form


NTI: Urgent steps needed to safeguard rapidly advancing AI-bioscience technologies (report)
Stat: With a new center, All of Us tackles health data silos to power precision medicine
National Review: NIH research grant process benefits China (perspective by Stanley Goldfarb)
Washington Examiner: Republicans and Democrats call for review of global biosafety standards

International Affairs

Washington Post: Global adversaries, allies reach first agreement on containing AI risks
Nature: Why the UK-led global AI summit is missing the point (editorial)
Treasury Department: Treasury hardens sanctions with 130 new Russian evasion and military-industrial targets
Wall Street Journal: China, US to meet for rare nuclear arms-control talks
Issues in Science and Technology: We need to move beyond stereotypes and caricatures when discussing China (perspective by Leigh Turner)
Research Professional: European Research Area ‘missing policy on fundamental research’
Nature: Sudan’s disastrous war — and the science it is imperiling (perspective by Mohamed H. A. Hassan)

More from FYI
An order by President Biden places new rules on developers of “dual use” AI models, proposes visa reforms to attract talent in AI and other critical technologies, and directs agencies to expand research on AI applications.
National Cancer Institute Director Monica Bertagnolli will take the helm of the National Institutes of Health. The agency has lacked a Senate-confirmed director for nearly two years.
NIST leaders say the agency is hiring more safety staff, overhauling its safety training, and pushing for facilities repairs in the wake of several high-profile incidents.
Leaders of the House Science Committee introduced legislation last week that would update the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018.
House appropriators are backing NASA’s imperiled Mars Sample Return mission and prospective NSF large facility projects, according to a newly posted document. The appropriators also elaborate on their proposals to reinstate the Justice Department’s China Initiative and block the White House’s policy requiring immediate free access to research publications.
The 21 medal winners include LIGO Director Barry Barish and former National Science Foundation Director Subra Suresh.

Sign up for FYI This Week, our weekly digest of science policy news.

By signing up you agree to allow AIP to send you email newsletters. You further agree to our privacy policy and terms of service.