FYI: Science Policy News
The Week of January 23, 2017

What’s Ahead

Welcome to FYI This Week

Welcome to the inaugural edition of FYI This Week! We have been working hard to develop a publication that will provide a panoramic picture of the week in science policy, posted every Monday morning. Each edition will include a look at the week ahead and a review of the week just passed. It will also list upcoming events, opportunities to get engaged, and links to articles from other publications. To receive each edition via email, sign up here .

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Best regards,

The FYI Team

Mike Henry, Mitch Ambrose & Will Thomas

Trump Budget Director Pick to Face Confirmation Hearing

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) is Trump’s selection to direct the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) is Trump’s selection to direct the White House Office of Management and Budget.

(Image credit –

On Tuesday morning, the Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing to consider President Trump’s nomination of Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to be director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney is a fiscal conservative, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, and a member of the Republican Study Committee, which has pushed for deep cuts in federal spending. In the past, he has also voted for large funding cuts to the NSF and DOE science budgets. Senators may ask Mulvaney about a recent report in The Hill about plans to dramatically shrink of the size of the federal government, including major funding reductions at the Departments of Commerce and Energy. OMB coordinates the president’s annual budget request and influences policy and funding priorities across the government.

House to Vote on Major Energy Science and Nuclear Technology Bills

The House is scheduled to vote on Tuesday afternoon on the bipartisan “DOE Research and Innovation Act,” sponsored by House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). The bill would authorize research programs within DOE’s Office of Science and encourage lab-to-market commercialization of energy technologies. The bill also incorporates the “Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act,” reintroduced from the 114th Congress (see FYI 2016 #27 ). On Monday evening, the House is scheduled to consider a separate bill to require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to develop a plan to license the nation’s next generation of advanced nuclear reactors. The House passed similar legislation last year (see FYI 2016 #103 ).

Senate Committee to Vote on Commerce Secretary Nominee, Space Weather Research & Women in STEM Bills

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a business meeting on Tuesday morning to consider the nominations of billionaire Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary and Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary. The committee will also consider a long list of bills, including the “Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act,” reintroduced from the last Congress, and two other reintroduced bills promoting the advancement of women in STEM fields: the “INSPIRE Women Act” (see FYI 2016 #38) and the “Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act.” The House passed the latter two by voice vote on Jan. 10.

AMS Annual Meeting Convenes in Seattle

The American Meteorological Society is holding its annual meeting this Sunday through Friday at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, and a number of policy sessions are on the agenda, including a town hall on the next National Academy of Sciences earth sciences decadal survey. See the “Events This Week” section for highlights.

APS to Host Holdren, Holt, Foster, Murray at Meeting

On Saturday morning, the American Physical Society is hosting a policy-focused plenary session at the society’s meeting in Washington, D.C. The session will feature former Obama science advisor John Holdren, AAAS CEO and physicist Rush Holt, physicist congressman Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), and former director of the DOE Office of Science Cherry Murray. Additional policy-related events at the meeting are listed in the “Events This Week” section. UPDATE: Holdren is no longer listed as a speaker.

AAAS to Host Webinar on Trump’s First 100 Days and the New Congress

AAAS CEO Rush Holt and American Enterprise Institute political scientist Norm Ornstein are headlining a webinar on Thursday afternoon on the outlook for science in the new administration and Congress. Topics will include science policy in Trump’s first 100 days, an updated outlook for research funding, and how the new administration and Congress may handle science-based policymaking.

In Case You Missed It

President Trump Alludes to American Science in Inaugural Address

President Trump’s inaugural address was notable for its dark portrait of “American carnage” and for its combative promise to shift power from “Washington, D.C.” back “to the American people” and to put “America first.” However, a short passage focusing on science, technology, and medicine, struck a more traditional, optimistic tone, with Trump declaring, “We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.” The Washington Post reports that, in crafting the speech, Trump was “intrigued” by President John F. Kennedy’s call in 1961 for the nation to land astronauts on the moon by the end of that decade.

Senate Confirms James Mattis as Defense Secretary

On Inauguration Day, the Senate voted 98 to 1 to confirm retired general James Mattis as Defense Secretary. Mattis now oversees a $580 billion Defense Department, including over $12 billion in basic and applied research and advanced technology development. In answers to written questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mattis said he would “establish a culture of innovation” across the DOD and prioritize S&T investments that are a part of the present Third Offset strategy (see FYIs 2016 #125 and #138 for more on the Third Offset).

Additional Trump Cabinet Nominees Face Science Questions

Some of Trump’s other Cabinet nominees faced science-related questioning before Senate committees last week.

  • Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Trump’s pick for Energy Secretary, embraced the department’s basic research and other mission areas, promised to visit the national labs soon, and called DOE scientists and labs “the envy of the world.” He also acknowledged climate change and expressed regret for his earlier call to eliminate the department.
  • Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, nominee for Commerce Secretary, faced multiple questions about scientific integrity at NOAA and responded that he has “great respect for the scientific quality of NOAA” and expressed an appreciation of the importance of scientific independence.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, nominee for EPA Administrator, said human activity has “some impact” on climate change and added he would not attempt to overturn EPA’s endangerment finding that linked carbon emissions to public health risks.
  • Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary, said he supported the recent funding increases for NIH, adding the agency is “a treasure for our country.”

David Gelernter Under Consideration for Trump Science Advisor

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer reported that Yale University computer scientist David Gelernter met with Trump last Monday and is under consideration for the position of science advisor. Gelernter is known for his work in parallel computing, but his views on science policy are not well known. He has sharply criticized academia, writing a 2013 book entitled “America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats) .” Princeton physicist William Happer also recently met with Trump. Happer served in DOE under President George H. W. Bush and has garnered criticism for arguing that climate change trends are overstated and that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is beneficial.

UCS Releases Report on Scientific Integrity in Federal Policymaking

The Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy organization, released a new report last week focused on preserving scientific integrity in the federal government. The report lists four key principles of scientific integrity in federal policymaking and warns the Trump administration against “abuses of science,” which the authors emphasize can take many forms. The report also reviews the Bush and Obama administrations’ records on scientific integrity.

Events This Week

Monday, Jan. 23 AMS: American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, Wash., Registration required (continues through Friday)
How Policy and Law Affect Early Career Scientists , 12:15 pm PST
A Snapshot of the Federal Policy Landscape ,1:30 pm PST
Forecasting the Next Four Years: Priorities of the Next Administration and Congress , 4:00 pm PST

Tuesday, Jan. 24 UPDATED -- Senate: Meeting to consider nomination of Rick Perry to be Energy Secretary and Ryan Zinke to be Interior Secretary
9:30 am, Energy and Natural Resources Committee (366 Dirksen Office Building, DC)
Webcast available -- This meeting has been postponed to Jan. 31.

Senate: Meeting to consider nomination of Wilbur Ross to be Commerce Secretary
And markup legislation, including space weather and STEM bills

10:00 am, Commerce, Science, Transportation Committee (253 Russell Office Building, DC)
Webcast available

Senate: Hearing on nomination of Rep. Mick Mulvaney to lead OMB
10:30 am, Budget Committee (608 Dirksen Office Building, DC)
Webcast available

AIAA: Aerospace 101: Propelling America’s Economy and National Security
11:30 am – 1 pm (2325 Rayburn Office Building, DC)
Former NASA science associate administrator John Grunsfeld is among the panelists

AAAS: Roadblocks to Reform in the Biomedical Research Enterprise
4:00 – 5:00 pm, AAAS Auditorium (1200 New York Ave NW, DC)

DC Science Café: Saving Science From Itself
Featuring ASU professor Dan Sarewitz and FYI’s own Will Thomas
6:30 – 8:30 pm, Busboys & Poets (1025 5th Street NW, DC)

AMS: American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting cont.
Earth Science Division Town Hall , 5:30 pm PST
Community Forum on the National Academies’ Decadal Survey, ‘Earth Science and Applications from Space , 6:30 pm PST

Wednesday, Jan. 25 NSF: Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee meeting
1:00 – 2:00 pm, NSF, Room 1235 (4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, Va.)

Thursday, Jan. 26 NSF: Astronomy & Astrophysics Advisory Committee meeting (continues Friday)
9:00 am – 5:00 pm Thurs, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm Fri, NSF (4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, Va.)

AAAS: Webinar: Outlook for Science in the New Administration and Congress
Featuring AAAS CEO Rush Holt and AEI Resident Scholar Norm Ornstein
2:00 – 3:00 pm

Friday, Jan. 27 Issues in S&T: Confronting Scientific Controversies: Do Facts Matter?
8:30 – 10:30 am, Arizona State University Washington Center (1834 Connecticut Ave NW, DC)

Saturday, January 28 APS: American Physical Society April Meeting, Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, DC, Registration required (continues through Tuesday)
Science Policy in the 21st Century , 8:30 – 10:18 am
Nuclear Testing Limitations and Monitoring Low Level Radioactivity , 1:30 – 3:18 pm
Two Out of 535: The Role of Physicists in Policy , 3:30 – 5:18 pm
—Stop by the ‘Contact Congress’ booth to sign your name to letters to your congressional delegation on the importance of federal funding for basic research

Sunday, January 29 APS: American Physical Society April Meeting cont.
Manhattan Project Scientific Legacy , 1:30 – 3:18 pm
The Social Legacy of the Manhattan Project , 3:30 – 5:18 pm

Monday, Jan. 30 APS: American Physical Society April Meeting cont.
Future High Energy Hadron Colliders and Physics , 10:45 – 12:30 pm
The Roles of Physicists in International and Nonprofit Organizations , 1:30 – 3:18 pm

Stanford: Climate Adaptation and Building Resilience
Featuring National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt
12:00 – 2:00 pm, National Press Club (529 14th St NW, DC)
Registration required, lunch provided


AMS Recruiting Volunteers for Climate Science Day on Capitol Hill

The American Meteorological Society Policy Program is recruiting volunteers to participate in Climate Science Day on Capitol Hill on March 20 and 21. The purpose of the visits is to provide members of Congress the best possible access to scientific information on climate science for making policy decisions. Applications are due Feb. 10.

California Council on Science and Technology Seeking Applicants for Policy Fellowship

The California Council on Science and Technology is accepting applications from scientists and engineers for its 2018 Science & Technology Policy Fellowship . Fellows spend one year in Sacramento serving the California State Legislature and must have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in science or engineering. Applications are due Feb. 28.

AAAS Seeking Director for S&T Policy Fellowships

AAAS is hiring a program director for the S&T Policy Fellowships Program. Applicants must have a Ph.D. or equivalent in a relevant field. Applications are due Feb. 12.

FYI Hiring Science Policy Analyst

AIP is hiring a Science Policy Analyst to join the FYI team based in College Park, Md. The analyst will closely follow developments in federal science policy and contribute to FYI’s growing science policy news offerings. Review of applications is ongoing.

AGI Hiring Policy Staff

The American Geosciences Institute has an opening in its geoscience policy team for a full-time position that could be filled at a junior or senior level. The position is based in Alexandria, Va. Review of applications begins on Feb. 6.

Know of an upcoming science policy opportunity? Email us at of an upcoming science policy event? Email us at

Around the Web

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

White House

NPR Science Friday: How Will Scientific Research Fare Under President Donald Trump?

Nature: Rumours swirl about Trump’s science adviser pick

Washington Post: As college leaders wonder what to make of Trump, one takes comfort on what he hasn’t said

MIT Technology Review: Will science have a seat at President Trump’s table?


The Hill: Congressional leadership and vision propels U.S. leadership in science (Maria Zuber, opinion)

Chemical & Engineering News: For U.S. science policy, big shift ahead

Eos: House Science Committee’s Climate Tweets Rile Scientists

Political Engagement

Scientific American: Scientists Must Become More Involved in the Political Process (opinion)

Nature: Give the public the tools to trust scientists (Anita Makri, opinion)

Nature: Scientists on their hopes and fears for Trump administration

Nature: Scientists join massive protest against Trump

Washington Post: This group wants to fight ‘anti-science’ rhetoric by getting scientists to run for office


DOE: Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz Exit Interview (audio)

DOE: The Way Forward on Nuclear Waste (Ernest Moniz, opinion)

ScienceInsider: Ten questions for Rick Perry, Trump’s pick for energy secretary

NPR: Scientists Concerned For Future Of National Labs As Rick Perry Seeks Top Energy Post

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: One scientist’s do-it list for presumptive Energy Secretary Perry (Jeff Terry, opinion)

Weather, Climate, and Environment

SpacePolicyOnline: New satellites, new administration key topics of AMS meeting

Washington Post: NOAA and the new administration: Will Trump make America’s weather model great again?

SpacePolicyOnline: Benjamin Friedman to be Acting NOAA Administrator

NASA: NASA, NOAA Data Show 2016 Warmest Year on Record Globally

Washington Post: Trump nominees share a less urgent climate-change line

Reuters: ‘Pragmatic’ Trump might be persuaded on climate action: UK scientists

InsideClimate News: The Scramble to Protect Climate Data Under Trump

The Hill: Pruitt will put EPA back on track (Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), opinion)


SpaceNews: Trump administration assigns first political appointees to NASA

Nature: The $2.4-billion plan to steal a rock from Mars

Science: Your self-driving car could kill radio astronomy ($)

Discover: NASA Has the Asteroid Protection Plan, But Where’s the Money?

Biomedical Research

Scientific American: NIH Director Francis Collins to stay on, for now

Nature: Trump’s vaccine-commission idea is biased and dangerous (editorial)

ScienceInsider: Rigorous replication effort succeeds for just two of five cancer papers


DOD: Remarks by Secretary Carter at the Department of Defense Farewell

Gizmodo: At the last minute, Trump asks nuclear safety administrator to stick around after all

STEM Education

The Physics Teacher: The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship: Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Practice


The Royal Society: Theresa May makes science a Brexit priority

Nature: Brussels Declaration: Twenty-point plan for science policy

Canadian Science Policy Centre: Science Advice in a Troubled World (Peter Gluckman, opinion)

More from FYI
More than a dozen major research centers launched this summer using funds from the National Science Foundation.
Budgetary constraints are poised to blunt the Biden administration’s proposals to increase funding for many clean energy R&D programs across the Department of Energy. However, DOE is ramping up distribution of a historic funding influx that Congress provided through special appropriations laws over the last two years.
NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences portfolio is “severely underfunded,” a National Academies report argues.
The possible extension of a longstanding research agreement between the U.S. and China highlights the federal government’s struggle to balance national security concerns against the benefits of international scientific collaboration.
The Biden administration’s 2023 R&D priorities memo instructs agencies to support U.S. competitiveness in key technology areas, such as AI, including by experimenting with research funding mechanisms.
Early-stage defense R&D programs are facing significant budget cuts in fiscal year 2024, though Senate appropriators are seeking to boost basic research funding. Meanwhile, House appropriators are pushing a major initiative in commercial technology acquisition built around a vastly expanded Defense Innovation Unit.

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