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WEEK OF APRIL 1, 2024
What’s Ahead

A map of the path of the April 8 eclipse.

The path of the April 8 eclipse.

(NSF)

Solar Eclipse Preparations in Full Swing

Science organizations plan to leverage the total solar eclipse on April 8 for a range of experiments and outreach activities. The eclipse’s path of totality will stretch across North America from Sinaloa, Mexico, to New Brunswick, Canada, hitting more than a dozen U.S. states along the way. To name a few of the planned experiments, NASA will launch three sounding rockets into the Moon’s shadow to study how the Sun’s disappearance disturbs Earth’s ionosphere and will use two aircraft to study the sun’s corona. NASA has also organized 53 student engineering teams into a Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project that will carry out hourly weather balloon launches for 30 hours during the eclipse. A jet from the National Center for Atmospheric Research will chase the eclipse as it moves across the U.S., observing infrared light emitted by the Sun’s corona. NCAR has launched a website with details on cross-disciplinary experiments and citizen science projects relating to the eclipse.

Among the outreach events, the National Science Foundation and partner agencies will host viewing events in Dallas, Texas, and Washington, D.C., and an educational livestream aimed at grade-school students. The American Astronomical Society has compiled resources for viewing the eclipse and has been raising awareness about eclipse safety, such as with warnings about the dangers of counterfeit eclipse glasses. (AAS is an AIP Member Society.)

Fights Over House Leadership and Ukraine Aid to Resume in April

Congress faces a raft of challenges when it returns from a two-week recess on April 9. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has been threatened with removal by far-right members of his party who are angered by his compromises with Democrats in the appropriations legislation enacted last month, though it is unclear when a removal vote might occur. Democrats have expressed openness to voting to keep Johnson in office, but only in exchange for his support on a Ukraine aid bill. Regardless of the outcome of the speaker fight, House Republicans continue to grapple with their tight and shrinking majority. Recent retirements and the expulsion of George Santos mean the party can only afford two defections on party-line votes. That margin will shrink to one on April 19 when Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) resigns.

With this backdrop, congressional leaders are still struggling to negotiate a supplemental spending package focused on national security priorities, mainly related to the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas wars and security along the U.S.-Mexico border. Senate Democrats have advanced a supplemental package totaling around $110 billion. Although the package is mostly focused on expanding weapons procurement and humanitarian assistance, a portion addresses goals involving science agencies, such as shoring up supplies of radioisotopes that previously were acquired from Russia and assisting Ukraine with nuclear nonproliferation initiatives.

Physicists Gather in Sacramento for APS April Meeting

The American Physical Society will host its annual April meeting from Wednesday to Saturday this week in Sacramento, California. Among the special sessions is a Friday keynote on “new challenges and big questions for the next decade,” which will feature talks by the chairs of the recent Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5) and the Long-Range Plan for Nuclear Science. There will also be a Saturday plenary session on the “scientific impact of major facilities,” with a focus on the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, the Large Hadron Collider, and the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave detectors. Other policy-related sessions include discussions about the role of physicists in arms control and reducing the threat of nuclear weapons, ways to address misinformation about science, the potential of small modular reactors to help mitigate climate change, and initiatives to better support emerging research institutions. (APS is an AIP Member Society.)

In Case You Missed It

Vice President Kamala Harris attends a meeting with Artificial Intelligence (AI) CEO’s, Cabinet members and senior advisers, Thursday, May 4, 2023, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. CEO’s in attendance are Sam Altman of OpenAI, Dario Amodei of Anthropic, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, and Sundar Pichai of Alphabet.

Vice President Kamala Harris, pictured speaking with AI company executives in May 2023, announced the White House’s policy on uses of AI across government in a speech on March 28, 2024.

(Lawrence Jackson / The White House)

Government-wide Policy on AI Issued by White House Budget Office

Vice President Kamala Harris announced a major policy last week that will govern how federal agencies can use artificial intelligence, as directed by President Joe Biden’s November executive order on AI. The policy, issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget, establishes many security and safety requirements for federal applications of AI but also includes various exceptions. Notably, the policy does not apply to AI used to conduct basic or applied research unless the purpose of that research is to develop AI applications for use by the agency.

The policy defines a set of “minimum practices” that agencies are required to follow when using or creating rights-affecting or safety-impacting AI – that is, AI designed to inform decisions that affect the rights or safety of individuals. These practices include real-world testing, independent evaluation, public documentation, impact assessments, and other basic software risk-mitigation standards. Agencies are also required to “proactively” share AI-related code they develop, and the policy specifically recommends doing so via the National AI Research Resource.

Agencies have until December 1 to make any AI they are currently using compliant with the policy or halt their use. Agencies can request waivers to allow them to continue using non-compliant AI. Among the remaining provisions, agencies are required to annually update their inventories of AI use-cases and designate chief AI officers.

DOE Announces $6 Billion to Reduce Industrial Carbon Emissions

Last week, the Department of Energy announced it plans to allocate up to $6 billion for 33 projects to demonstrate commercial-scale technologies for reducing carbon emissions from the manufacturing sector. Together, the projects aim to reduce emissions by an amount equal to that produced annually from 3 million gasoline-powered cars. The projects span a range of manufactured goods, including chemicals, metals, glass, cement and concrete, food and beverages, and pulp and paper. Of the total funding, $489 million is from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and $5.47 billion is from the Inflation Reduction Act. Nearly 80% of these projects are located in disadvantaged communities and each project is required to implement a Community Benefits Plan that “ensures meaningful community and labor engagement.” In order to receive the awards, the projects had to justify how they would benefit the surrounding area, especially areas with a history of environmental injustice. Examples of required benefits include strengthening local economies, preventing industrial pollution, and offering well-paying jobs that “support worker organizing and collective bargaining.” DOE will hold a series of briefings in April on these projects.

Gates Foundation to End Support for Article Processing Charges

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a new open access policy last week, stating that the non-profit will no longer pay article processing charges and will instead encourage authors to publish their work in preprint journals. The new policy will take effect January 1, 2025. The foundation, a long-time proponent of open access publishing, said that a “culture shift” is required to ensure “the prioritization of equity and access over prestige and personal interest.” While APCs make research content free for readers to access, the high fees often make this option available “only to the most well-funded researchers,” the foundation said in a one-pager on its new policy. “New, more equitable models have not gained traction because publishers are slow to change and have pushed back when revenue is threatened,” the foundation asserted. The foundation’s move was welcomed by cOAlition S, a group of science funders pushing for immediate open access to research publications.

CHIPS Program Suspends Plans for R&D Facility Funds

The Commerce Department has suspended plans to issue a funding opportunity for the construction, modernization, or expansion of semiconductor R&D facilities, the CHIPS Program Office announced via newsletter last week. The decision is a consequence of “overwhelming demand” for funding from the $39 billion facility incentive program created by the CHIPS and Science Act, the office said, as well as due to program changes enacted through the final appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2024. Though this particular R&D funding opportunity has been put on ice, the office emphasized that it still plans to spend $11 billion on semiconductor R&D through separate programs funded by the CHIPS and Science Act. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo stressed in a recent speech that dispersal of the CHIPS funds is a balancing act. “At the outset, we said that we expected to invest about $28 billion of the program’s $39 billion in incentives for leading-edge chip manufacturing. But leading-edge companies alone have requested more than $70 billion, meaning we’re having many tough conversations,” Raimondo said. The CHIPS Program Office will discuss its strategy for supporting semiconductor R&D in an April 9 webinar focused on the National Semiconductor Technology Center.

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, April 1

NIST: “CHIPS Commercial Viability and Domestic Production Guidebook and Related Intellectual Property Protections”
2:00 pm

Tuesday, April 2

USGS: National Geospatial Advisory Committee meeting
(continues through Thursday)

Lunar and Planetary Institute: “Integrating Ocean Drilling and NASA Science”
(continues through Thursday)

NIST: “CHIPS R&D Semiconductor Supply Chain Trust and Assurance Data Standards Workshop”
(continues Wednesday)

Carnegie Endowment: “Climate Science, Policy, Fiction, and Narrative: Framing the Upcoming Special Report on Cities and Climate Change”
10:00 - 11:00 am

CSIS: “Japanese State Visit and Trilateral Leaders’ Summit”
10:00 - 11:00 am

AMS: “The Triple Point: Where Weather, Climate, and Society Meet - NSF-NCAR’s Weather Risks and Decisions In Society (WRaDS)”
11:00 am

National Academies: “The Action Collaborative on Disaster Research: Symposium on Disaster Data Science”
11:00 - 4:00 pm

Brookings: “Nuclear Challenges for the Next US Administration”
2:00 - 3:00 pm

EESI: “The National Security – Climate Adaptation Nexus”
2:00 - 3:30 pm

RFF: “The Global Energy Outlook 2024: Peaks or Plateaus?”
3:00 - 4:30 pm

Wednesday, April 3

APS: April Meeting
(continues through Saturday)

MIT: Space Week 2024
(continues through Friday)

National Academies: “Integration Readiness Levels - Speeding Technology Insertion to the Soldier’s Hands: A Workshop”
(continues through Friday)

National Academies: “AI and Automated Laboratories for Biotechnology: Leveraging Opportunities and Mitigating Risks - A Workshop”
(continues Thursday)

NRC: Reactor Safeguards Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Thursday)

Lunar and Planetary Institute: “Science Enabled by the Artemis Base Camp”
11:00 am

CSIS: “Advancing U.S.-Canada Life Sciences Cooperation”
3:30 - 4:45 pm

AMS: “A Day That Changed Tornado Research - A Look Back at the 1974 Super Outbreak”
7:00 pm

Thursday, April 4

NIST: “CHIPS R&D Digital Twin Data Interoperability Standards Workshop”
(continues Friday)

NSF: Engineering Directorate Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Friday)

NRC: “New and Advanced Reactors: Codes and Standards”
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Semiconductor Industry Association: “Encouraging Innovation: The Policies and Partnerships Needed to Support Semiconductor Startups”
2:00 - 3:00 pm

NSF: “The Design of Socially Responsible AI by Jodi Forlizzi”
3:00 - 4:30 pm

Friday, April 5

Atlantic Council: “The Growing Role of the Private Sector in International Space Collaboration”
8:30 am

Hudson Institute: “Stronger Together: The Importance of U.S.-Japan Economic Relations”
11:00 - 2:30 pm

ASU CSPO: “Assessing Innovation Hubs and Regional Innovation Engines: New Methods”
12:00 - 2:00 pm

Monday, April 8

NRC: Advisory Committee on the Medical Uses of Isotopes meeting
(continues Tuesday)

CSIS: “China’s Tech Sector: Economic Champions, Regulatory Targets”
9:00 - 10:00 am

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

Opportunities

Deadlines indicated in parentheses. Newly added opportunities are marked with a diamond.

Job Openings

AIP: Science policy reporter (ongoing)
◆National Academies: Director, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate and Polar Research Board (ongoing)
◆NSF: Section chief, Office of International Science and Engineering (April 3)
DOE: Deputy director for counterintelligence (April 5)
NSF: Chief management officer (April 8)
NIST: Supervisory program analyst for legislative affairs (April 8)
National Space Council: Fall internship (April 12)
NTIA: Director of the Institute for Telecommunications Sciences (April 12)
NIST: Technology strategy fellowship (April 15)
NSF: Deputy director, Division of Material Research (April 15)
DOE: Director, Office of Isotope R&D and Production (April 22)
◆AAS: Bahcall Public Policy Fellowship (May 1)

Solicitations

COGR: Survey on research institutions’ experiences with DOD policy for risk-based security reviews of fundamental research (April 5)
USGS: Science Quality and Integrity Advisory Committee call for nominations (April 11)
NSF: RFI on marine carbon dioxide removal research plan (April 23)
◆OMB: RFI on responsible procurement of artificial intelligence in government (April 29)
USPTO: National Medal of Technology and Innovation call for nominations (May 3)
NSF: National Medal of Science call for nominations (May 5)
DOE: Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award call for nominations (May 9)
NOAA: Solicitation of members for NOAA’s Science Advisory Board (May 9)
USPTO: Request for comments on translating more innovation to the marketplace (May 14)

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

Bloomberg Law: AI executive order spurs new look at exchange visa skills list
White House: As part of the Cancer Moonshot, First Lady Jill Biden highlights new actions to expand patient navigation
Cleveland.com: ‘Moonshot’ against cancer aims to help Americans navigate cancer diagnosis to a better outcome (perspective by Arati Prabhakar)

Congress

New York Times: AI leaders press advantage with Congress as China tensions rise
The Hill: Congress hands China another win (perspective by Zoe Lofgren (D-CA))
RealClearEducation: Congress’ funding cuts will hurt community college students and stifle innovation (perspective by Shalin Jyotishi and Matt Hourihan)
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA): California senators urge NASA to fully fund Mars Sample Return program
AIBS: Science Coalition requests $11.9 billion for NSF in FY25

Science, Society, and the Economy

Sandia National Lab: Sandia Labs’ 20-year economic impact announcement
Nature: Sam Bankman-Fried sentencing: Crypto-funded researchers grapple with FTX collapse
Voice of America: For Chinese nationalists, Netflix’s ‘3 Body Problem’ is a problem
The Guardian: ‘I’m often asked – there’s science fiction in China?’ (interview with Liu Cixin)
Nature: How scientists are making the most of Reddit
Forbes: Science engagement shapes lives and changes perceptions (perspective by Marshall Shepherd)

Education and Workforce

Chronicle of Higher Education: A Florida law that could restrict graduate students from China, Iran is challenged in court
Asian American Scholar Forum: National groups joins forces with local organizations and community to rally against SB 846 in Florida
Vanderbilt University: Vanderbilt to establish a college dedicated to computing, AI, and data science
Issues in Science and Technology: Bring on the policy entrepreneurs (perspective by Erica Goldman)
Scilight: Federal science capacity: Should scientists be excited about IPAs? (perspective by Andrew Rosenberg)
Science: Strengthen the case for DEI (perspective by Shirley Malcom)
JHU APL: Remembering trailblazing mathematician Ella Dobson
NASA: NASA remembers former NASA Johnson Director George W. S. Abbey

Research Management

DOE: Open letter: Farewell to staff from the outgoing director of the DOE Office of Science
Wall Street Journal: The feds want more oversight of scientific research. Universities are fighting back
Nature: Larger or longer grants unlikely to push senior scientists towards high-risk, high-reward work
NIH: How grant success rates do (or do not) track with the NIH budget: A model of funding dynamics
GAO: Small business research programs: Increased performance standards likely affect few businesses receiving multiple awards (report)
ORCID: ORCID and GitHub sign memorandum of understanding
Scholarly Kitchen: Navigating the retraction minefield in China and beyond: A need for systemic changes and increased focus on researcher well-being (perspective by Roohi Ghosh)
Nature: Journal editors are resigning en masse: What do these group exits achieve?
National Academies: Experimental approaches to improving research funding programs: Proceedings of a workshop

Labs and Facilities

CERN Courier: Key takeaways so far from the Future Circular Collider feasibility study
CERN Courier: China’s designs for a future circular collider
CERN Courier: Shooting for a muon collider (perspective by Mark Palmer)
Science: A muon collider could revolutionize particle physics — if it can be built
Brookhaven National Lab: UK invests in DOE’s Electron-Ion Collider Project
National Energy Technology Lab: Tech transfer experts from national labs neet at NETL
USRA: Universities Space Research Association appoints Robert O’Brien director of the Center for Space Nuclear Research
NSF: Funding opportunity to inform possible future Centers for Research and Innovation in Science, the Environment and Society (CRISES)

Computing and Communications

The Information: Microsoft and OpenAI plot $100 billion Stargate AI supercomputer
Wall Street Journal: US tech giants turn to Mexico to make AI gear, spurning China
IEEE Spectrum: How we’ll reach a 1 trillion transistor GPU
MIT Technology Review: What’s next for generative video
CSET: For government use of AI, what gets measured gets managed
Lawfare: To govern AI, we must govern compute (perspective by Lennart Heim, et al.)
Wilson Center: Dependencies in the US semiconductor industry
Physics World: Why you shouldn’t be worried about talk of a ‘quantum winter’ (perspective by James McKenzie)
New York Times: As space threats mount, US lags in protecting GPS services
MITRE: Australia and New Zealand have set course toward a global navigation satellite system with much greater accuracy

Space

SpacePolicyOnline: Space budget experts warn FY25 may be even worse for NASA
NASA: NASA selects first lunar instruments for Artemis astronaut deployment
American Nuclear Society: Nations envision nuclear reactors on the Moon
SpaceNews: China adds new Moon base project partners, but struggles to attract national-level participation
Space Review: Lessons from the first CLPS lunar landing missions
Reuters: Send robots into space rather than people, says Britain’s Astronomer Royal
SpaceNews: Chinese scientists call for focus on asteroid missions
New York Times: Final Delta IV Heavy launch: Finale for a rocket that brings the heat

Weather, Climate, and Environment

Nature: Divisive Sun-dimming study at Harvard cancelled: What’s next?
NASA: Early adopters of NASA’s PACE data to study air quality, ocean health
New York Times: Can we engineer our way out of the climate crisis?
Science: Startups aim to curb climate change by pulling carbon dioxide from the ocean — not the air
E&E News: Democrats rebuke Biden for fighting young climate activists in court
Nature: Climate change has slowed Earth’s rotation — and could affect how we keep time
NASA: Antarctic sea ice near historic lows; Arctic ice continues decline
Argonne National Lab: Critical materials assessment tags potential supply chain bottlenecks

Energy

E&E News: Biden administration to hand out $4 billion in advanced energy tax credits
American Nuclear Society: From South Korea to Belgium: Testing a high-density research reactor fuel
American Nuclear Society: Why should safeguards by design be a global effort? (perspective by Jeremy Whitlock)
Wall Street Journal: Bipartisan legislation in Congress could make it easier to deploy reactors and reduce waste (perspective by David Stevenson and Robert Bauman)
The Asahi Shimbun: Another delay feared at nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Aomori
DOE: DOE announces $1.5 billion conditional commitment to Holtec Palisades to support recommission of Michigan nuclear power plant
NREL: Game-changing high-resolution solar data enables renewable energy expansion across 2 continents
DOE: DOE announces $62 million to lower battery recycling costs across the nation

Defense

Los Alamos National Lab: New machine to enhance understanding of nuclear weapons’ behavior
New York Times: Why Russia is protecting North Korea from nuclear monitors
Financial Times: How Silicon Valley’s ‘Oppenheimer’ found lucrative trade in AI weapons
DefenseScoop: DARPA transitions new technology to shield military AI systems from trickery
DefenseScoop: Space Force ‘not doing enough’ to leverage AI, machine learning — senior official
DOD: DIU partners with AUKUS pillar II for international prize challenge

Biomedical

Federation of American Scientists: Bringing agricultural biotechnology to market with AgARDA
ABC News: Cancer rate among Air Force missileers prompts questions, concerns
AP: Kate and King Charles’ cancers diagnoses strain royal family
Northeastern Global News: Why are more young people like Kate Middleton having cancer?
Science: Mandating indoor air quality for public buildings (perspective by Lidia Morawska, et al.)

International Affairs

Research Professional: UK unveils £473m to improve research infrastructure
Research Professional: Europe and India looking to ‘intensify’ space cooperation
Science: Early-career researchers lament potential loss of Europe’s largest transdisciplinary science conference
Science|Business: Australia revises export law that could have hit global research collaboration

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