FYI: Science Policy News
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WEEK OF FEB 5, 2024
What’s Ahead

Oak Ridge Summit Supercomputer

Summit at Oak Ridge National Lab is among the supercomputers that AI researchers can apply to use through the pilot National AI Research Resource launched in January.

(Carlos Jones / ORNL)

AI Research Infrastructure to be Focus of House Hearing

The House Science Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on how federal science agencies are supporting research in artificial intelligence and how AI can be used to accelerate scientific discoveries in a variety of fields. The hearing will focus on the National Science Foundation’s launch last month of the pilot National AI Research Resource (NAIRR), which offers AI researchers access to supercomputing resources, data, and training materials. Witnesses for the hearing are Tess deBlanc-Knowles, special assistant to the director for artificial intelligence at NSF; Georgia Tourassi, associate lab director for computing and computational sciences at Oak Ridge National Lab; Chaouki Abdallah, executive vice president for research at Georgia Tech; Louay Chamra, dean of Oakland University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science; and Jack Clark, co-founder and head of policy at the AI safety company Anthropic. Oak Ridge’s Summit supercomputer is among the resources available through NAIRR, and Anthropic is one of the private sector partners for the pilot. Separate from its support for NAIRR, Oak Ridge and other Department of Energy national labs have advocated for DOE to play a much larger role in developing AI applications relevant to science, energy technology development, and national security.

New Senate Security Package Faces Long Odds in House

A bipartisan group of senators released legislation over the weekend containing more than $100 billion in total for assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and new security measures for U.S. borders. It also would tighten policies governing illegal immigration while raising the cap on immigrant visas by 250,000 over five years, of which 90,000 would be for employment-based visas. The legislation would also grant work authorization to spouses and children of H-1B visa holders. President Joe Biden quickly endorsed the legislation, but top Republicans in the House registered strong opposition to the bill, arguing it does not do enough to stem illegal immigration. The Senate intends to take an initial vote on the legislation this week. Among its spending provisions, the legislation would permit the Department of Energy to spend up to $2.7 billion on domestic uranium enrichment initiatives by diverting funds appropriated by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for the Civil Nuclear Credit Program, which supports ailing nuclear power plants. The legislation also includes $98 million for the DOE Office of Science to acquire equipment for producing radioactive isotopes.

R&D Tax Credit Expansion Bill in Senate’s Court

Legislation that would strengthen the R&D tax credit and the child tax credit passed the House last week by a bipartisan vote of 357-70 and now awaits action in the Senate, where it is expected to face procedural and political hurdles. If enacted, the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 would permit businesses that conducted U.S.-based R&D between the end of 2021 and the start of 2026 to immediately deduct these expenses, rather than spreading them out over a five-year period – a process known as amortization. The requirement to amortize R&D expenses was introduced in the 2017 tax reform law and came into effect in 2022. Business groups have lobbied extensively for Congress to rescind the amortization requirement, arguing that it makes them less competitive globally. The 2017 law also introduced a 15-year amortization requirement for R&D conducted abroad, which the tax bill now under consideration would leave in place.

NASA to Launch Earth Science Satellite

Early Tuesday morning, NASA plans to launch the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite, which will study phytoplankton growth and how the ocean and atmosphere exchange carbon dioxide. PACE was one of the NASA missions that the Trump administration repeatedly tried to cut in an effort to reduce the agency’s role in environmental research. The satellite is expected to operate for at least three years and has an expected lifecycle cost of nearly $1 billion.

In Case You Missed It

nsf-disclosure-training.jpg

Slide from a training module on the importance of disclosing information during the grant application process.

(National Science Foundation)

Research Security Training Modules Released by NSF

Last week, the National Science Foundation released four interactive modules that research institutions can use to meet an impending requirement that certain personnel working on grants from science agencies receive security training. The four modules respectively cover fundamental concepts of research security, the importance of disclosing outside affiliations and sources of research support, risk mitigation methods, and the importance of international collaboration. The CHIPS and Science Act requires institutions to certify that certain grant personnel have taken research security training. An NSF spokesperson indicated that using all four modules is sufficient to comply with the requirement but emphasized that institutions can opt to use their own training materials.

DOE Updates Scientific Integrity Policy

The Department of Energy released a new scientific integrity policy on Jan. 19 that adds some new requirements but does not significantly alter the processes that researchers must follow. For instance, the new policy states that DOE personnel cannot “suppress, unduly delay, or alter scientific or technological findings” for reasons such as “political purposes.” The old policy does not explicitly identify political purposes as an example of an unacceptable motivation, nor does it explicitly mention undue delay as an unacceptable practice. The new policy also contains a new section that raises awareness of whistleblower protections and adds a requirement that DOE produce an annual report on the state of scientific integrity at the department. These and other provisions aim to bring the policy into alignment with the Framework for Federal Scientific Integrity Policy and Practice put out by the National Science and Technology Council in 2023. Other agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institutes of Health, have also recently published draft revisions to their integrity policies in response to that report and an associated executive order.

Delay in Anti-Harassment Policies Flagged by Science Committee

Leaders of the House Science Committee sent a letter to the White House last week registering concern that it has not met deadlines for anti-harassment provisions in the CHIPS and Science Act. Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) wrote that the Office of Science and Technology Policy has not yet produced an inventory of anti-harassment policies, procedures, and resources across science agencies, a prerequisite for creating cross-government guidelines. The act requires these guidelines to be released within six months of the completion of the inventory. Separately, eight science societies sent a letter to OSTP in December 2023 that also raised concern about OSTP’s “lack of public action” on the inventory. (Three AIP Member Societies are signatories of that letter.)

Podesta to Replace Kerry as Climate Envoy

The White House announced last week that long-time Democratic strategist John Podesta will become the U.S.’ top climate envoy once John Kerry steps down from the role, which he plans to do by early spring. Podesta currently works in the White House overseeing clean energy spending under the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and he intends to retain that portfolio in his new role. Podesta will hold a different title than Kerry, serving as senior adviser to the president for international climate policy at the White House instead of U.S. special presidential envoy for climate at the State Department. That change evades a requirement Congress set in 2022 that State Department special envoys be confirmed by the Senate.

Quad STEM Fellowship Expanded to ASEAN Countries, Management Changed

The Quad Fellowship, a program that sponsors citizens of Australia, Japan, and India to pursue STEM graduate degrees in the United States, has been expanded to include students from ASEAN, a group of 10 countries in Southeast Asia. The move was announced last week by the International Institute for Education, which has taken over management of the fellowship from Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic organization founded by former Google CEO Eric Schimdt. Schmidt Futures’ management of the fellowship attracted scrutiny in part due to concerns that Schmidt was too close to the Biden administration. The International Institute for Education is a non-profit that manages international fellowship programs such as the State Department’s Fulbright program.

Upcoming Events

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

Monday, February 5

UN: Office for Outer Space Affairs S&T Subcommittee meeting
(continues through Friday)

National Academies: “Advancing Risk Communication with Decision-Makers for Extreme Tropical Cyclones”
(continues Tuesday)

Hudson Institute: “How to Deter China Economically with Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK)”
10:00 - 11:00 am

CSIS: “Emerging Policy Issues for Foundational Semiconductors”
10:00 - 11:00 am

NSB: Committee on Science and Engineering Policy meeting
1:00 - 2:00 pm

Tuesday, February 6

DOD: Defense Science Board meeting
(continues through Thursday)

NASA: Mercury Exploration Assessment Group meeting
(continues through Thursday)

National Academies: “Supporting K-12 STEM Education to Create the Foundations for Innovation”
(continues Wednesday)

National Academies: Army Science and Technology Roundtable, meeting three
(continues Wednesday)

NASA: PACE launch target
1:33 am

Washington Post: “The Rise of AI,” with Reps. Marcus Molinaro (R-NY) and Don Beyer (D-VA)
9:00 am

House: “Federal Science Agencies and the Promise of AI in Driving Scientific Discoveries”
10:00 am, Science Committee

House: “Securing Operational Technology: A Deep Dive into the Water Sector”
10:00 am, Homeland Security Committee

National Academies: “Global Microelectronics: Models for the Department of Defense in Semiconductor Public-Private Partnerships”
12:00 - 1:00 pm

Wednesday, February 7

National Academies: “PreK-12 STEM Education Innovations,” meeting three
(continues through Friday)

National Academies: “Policy Forum on Nature-based Solutions”
(continues Thursday)

ITI: “The Intersect: A Tech and Policy Summit”
1:00 - 4:00 pm

Thursday, February 8

National Academies: “Co-Production of Environmental Knowledge, Methods, and Approaches: Midwest Workshop”
(continues Friday)

Commerce Department: National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship meeting
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

National Academies: “Why Indoor Chemistry Matters Workshop 2: Prioritizing Indoor Chemistry Research”
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Senate: “Artificial Intelligence and Health Care: Promise and Pitfalls”
10:00 am, Finance Committee

Atlantic Council: “Building U.S. Nuclear Energy Independence: The Russia Connection”
10:30 am

National Academies: “Enhancing Biotechnology Innovation and Applications for National Security – First Meeting of Experts”
1:00 - 5:00 pm

RAND: “Reforming DOD’s Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution Process for a Competitive Future”
3:00 - 4:30 pm

Politics and Prose: “Countdown: The Blinding Future of Nuclear Weapons”
7:00 pm

Friday, February 9

No events.

Monday, February 12

NSF: Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering meeting
(continues Tuesday)

NASA: Heliophysics Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Tuesday)

National Academies: “An Inclusive and Equitable Ocean: A Workshop”
(continues Tuesday)

Know of an upcoming science policy event either inside or outside the Beltway? Email us at fyi@aip.org.

Opportunities

Deadlines indicated in parentheses.

Job Openings

AIP: Science policy reporter (ongoing)
NIH: Office of Science Policy summer internship program (Feb. 12)
NASA: Head of the Aeronautics Directorate at the Glenn Research Center (Feb. 20)
NSF: Deputy director for the Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Division (Feb. 20)
NSF: Head of the Math and Physical Sciences Directorate (Feb. 23)
NASA: Deputy director, Langley Research Center (Feb. 27)
COGR: Director for research security and intellectual property (March 4)
NSF: Director for the Division of Engineering Education and Centers (March 31)
ASU: Postdoctoral scholar in history of S&T policy, ASU Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes (ongoing)
Battelle: Congressional affairs director (ongoing)
APLU: Director of governmental affairs (ongoing)

Solicitations

NIST: RFI on draft interagency guidance on the exercise of march-in rights (Feb. 6)
NIST: RFI on the Metrology Exchange to Innovate in Semiconductors (Feb. 16)
DOL: RFI on modernizing Schedule A to include consideration of additional STEM and non-STEM occupations (Feb. 20)
National Academies: RFI to understand how minority-serving institutions assess their research capabilities and interact with DOD (Feb. 22)
EPA: Scientific integrity policy draft for public comment (Feb. 23)
NSF: RFI on researcher and educator use cases for the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (March 8)
NIH: RFI on NIH’s strategic plan for data science, 2023-2028 (March 15)

Know of an opportunity for scientists to engage in science policy? Email us at fyi@aip.org.

Around the Web

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

White House

Washington Post: Biden woos battleground states and red states with research funds
OSTP: White House leaders meet with philanthropy leaders to discuss Regional Innovation Engines
OSTP: Marking the anniversary of OSTP’s Year of Open Science
White House: Readout of US-EU Trade and Technology Council Fifth Ministerial Meeting
OSTP: A call to service for AI talent in the federal government
OSTP: Addressing contaminants of emerging concern through coordinated federal research
Nature: Trump’s presidential push renews fears for US science
E&E News: ‘Reversed and scrubbed.’ How a second Trump term could gut climate research

Congress

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA): 41 California lawmakers urge White House to reverse premature budget cuts to Mars Sample Return Program
House Science Committee: Ranking Member Lofgren (D-CA) reflects on visit to two fusion companies in Everett, Washington
Rep. Bill Foster (D-CA): Foster reintroduces legislation to make scientific resources available to employees at federal agencies

Science, Society, and the Economy

Science: In a big bet on science, the US just created 10 new ‘innovation engines’
New York Times: The US is selling its helium. Will balloons and MRIs be OK?
Los Alamos National Lab: LANL spent $930 million with New Mexico businesses, $1.8 billion in employee salaries
Boston Globe: Venture capital fund backed by MIT spins off startup support unit
Issues in Science and Technology: Zach Pirtle explores ethics for Mars landings (audio interview)
Space Review: The sacred Moon: Navigating diverse cultural beliefs in lunar missions (perspective by Deana Weibel)
Physics Today: SETI, artificial intelligence, and existential projection (perspective by Rebecca Charbonneau)
Science: Earning respect and trust (perspective by Holden Thorp)
Nature: How can scientists make the most of the public’s trust in them? (editorial)

Education and Workforce

Bloomberg Law: H-1B lottery revamp, higher visa fees finalized in new rules
Chronicle of Higher Education: This is where new PhDs find jobs
Nature: How to make academic hiring fair: Database lists innovative policies
Nature: Academia needs radical change — mothers are ready to pave the way (perspective by Fernanda Staniscuaski)
Physics Today: Teachers bring telescope data ‘down to Earth’ to provide students with real-world science experiences
NSF: NSF funding opportunity expands I-Corps Hubs program

Research Management

NSF: Federal science and engineering support to higher education increased 10% in FY 2021
NIH: Guidance on salary limitation for grants and cooperative agreements
Union of Concerned Scientists: EPA’s new scientific integrity policy: the good, the bad, and the ugly
AIP Publishing: AIP Publishing, APS, and IOP Publishing create new ‘Purpose-Led Publishing’ coalition
Science: Citation cartels help some mathematicians — and their universities — climb the rankings
New York Times: He hunts sloppy scientists. He’s finding lots of prey (interview with Sholto David)
Stat: Why I left the editorial board of the prestigious scientific journal NeuroImage — and helped start something new (perspective by Shella Keilholz)
Lawfare: Mind the gap: America needs an Office of Technology Net Assessment (perspective by Vivek Chilukuri)
Nature: Science and government: Can the power struggle ever end? (book review)

Labs and Facilities

Physics Today: Panel recommends road map for US particle physics
Fermilab: US CMS collaborators receive approval for massive detector upgrade
Brookhaven National Lab: France’s National Center for Scientific Research and DOE sign ‘statement of interest’ on EIC collaboration
Fermilab: Excavation of colossal caverns for Fermilab’s DUNE experiment completed
DOE: Allegations of security and safety concerns at Sandia National Labs (report)
Physics Today: Sea changes for scientific ocean drilling (perspective by Rebecca Robinson, et al.)
Research Professional: South Africa digs deep for underground physics lab
World Nuclear News: Preliminary design R&D completed for Russian molten salt research reactor
Argonne National Lab: Bringing supercomputers and experiments together to accelerate discoveries

Computing and Communications

Wall Street Journal: Intel delays $20 billion Ohio project, citing slow chip market
HPCwire: NIST outlines $300 million CHIPS Act awards for chip packaging and substrates R&D
FBI: Chinese hackers have entire nation in their crosshairs, FBI director warns
MIT Lincoln Lab: RAAINS workshop considers the future of artificial intelligence
Nature: In the AI science boom, beware: Your results are only as good as your data (perspective by Hunter Moseley)
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: What the G7 countries should do at their next summit to regulate AI (perspective by Elena Simperl and Johanna Walker)

Space

NASA: Joseph Pelfrey appointed director of Marshall Space Flight Center Director
Nature: JWST is most in-demand telescope ever — leaving many astronomers in the cold
JPL: NASA’s Europa Clipper instruments are all aboard
JPL: NASA puts next-gen exoplanet-imaging technology to the test
SpacePolicyOnline: Starship gets another customer — the Starlab space station
SpaceNews: Final preparations underway for launch of first Intuitive Machines lunar lander
SpaceNews: NASA workshop to examine options for Apophis asteroid mission
Ars Technica: For the first time NASA has asked industry about private missions to Mars

Weather, Climate, and Environment

NOAA: NOAA’s Ko Barrett to become deputy secretary-general of World Meteorological Organization
New York Times: Could a giant parasol in outer space help solve the climate crisis?
Science: Sustainability limits needed for CO2 removal (perspective by Alexandra Deprez, et al.)
Nature: A giant fund for climate disasters will soon open. Who should be paid first?
Inside Climate News: January was awash with extreme winter storms. Climate change likely played a role
USGS: USGS partners with Havasupai Tribe to identify potential contaminant exposure pathways from Grand Canyon uranium mining

Energy

Physics Today: US takes another look at recycling nuclear fuel
Physics World: New European fusion boss wants a demonstration fusion plant
American Nuclear Society: Zeno Power will repurpose legacy radioisotope source from ORNL
Bloomberg: AI needs so much power that old coal plants are sticking around
NETL: DOE seeks information on industrial demonstration and deployment of carbon capture technologies

Defense

New York Times: Fear and ambition propel Xi’s nuclear acceleration
Reuters: Pentagon calls out Chinese companies it says are helping Beijing’s military
Wall Street Journal: Could a rogue billionaire make a nuclear weapon?
Exchange Monitor: Late delivery of new underground testing lab might not affect design of Navy warhead
GAO: Nuclear waste: Changing conditions may affect future management of contamination deposited abroad during US Cold War activities (report)
DOD: Readout of the Defense Innovation Board winter 2024 meeting
DOD: DOD harnesses science, technology to counter adversaries
Defense One: High-powered microwave weapon may have just passed a critical test
DOD: CDAO launches first DOD AI bias bounty focused on unknown risks in large language models

Biomedical

DOD: DOD launches distributed bioindustrial manufacturing program to bolster domestic supply chains
RAND: The operational risks of AI in large-scale biological attacks: Results of a red-team study (report)
Axios: Biotech is the new focus in US-China tech rivalry
The Wire China: Should US biotech companies be allowed to sell to China’s police force?
Nature: Research funders must join the fight for equal access to medicines (editorial)

International Affairs

The Hill: Don’t let geopolitics get in the way of scientific cooperation with China (perspective by Nicholas Dirks)
Times Higher Education: Party strengthens control of Chinese university administration
NSF: Research collaboration opportunity in Europe for NSF grant recipients
Science|Business: Horizon Europe budget to be cut by €2.1B, as defence research gets a €1.5B boost
European Commission: Horizon 2020 evaluation shows that investment in EU research and innovation greatly pays off (report)
Science|Business: Canadian researchers set out hopes for Horizon Europe association
Research Professional: Renewed call for EU to consider impacts of new laws on research
Research Professional: More UK researchers leave for EU grants
Nature: Number of Black UK professors rises by 25% in one year
Research Professional: Researchers in Gaza face bureaucracy as well as bombs

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