FYI: Science Policy News
FYI
/
Newsletter
WEEK OF APRIL 22, 2024
What’s Ahead

Technicians use hot cell manipulators at ORNL during the production of actinium-227

Equipment for producing actinium-227, an isotope used in cancer treatment. The supplemental security spending bill that Congress is poised to pass includes money to ramp up production of critical isotopes to mitigate supply disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

(Oak Ridge National Lab)

National Security Spending Package Heads to Senate

The House passed supplementary funding bills over the weekend that contain about $61 billion in support for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel, and $8 billion for security initiatives in the Indo-Pacific region. A small portion of the funds are for science and technology-related initiatives. The Ukraine bill includes $98 million for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science to procure equipment for producing critical isotopes that were previously sourced from Russia. It also contains $143 million for nuclear nonproliferation efforts by DOE and $632 million for research, development, test, and evaluation projects at the Department of Defense. The Israel bill includes $5.2 billion for missile defense, of which $1.2 billion is specifically for the laser-based defense system called Iron Beam. The Indo-Pacific bill includes $7 million for RDT&E projects to improve the submarine industrial base. The package of bills had been stalled in the House for months due to opposition from a bloc of Republicans who are critical of providing further assistance to Ukraine. With that hurdle clear, the bills are now expected to pass the Senate, where there is less opposition to providing further aid.

PCAST to Propose AI Uses in Science

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology will meet Tuesday to consider approving a report on the potential for artificial intelligence tools to accelerate the progress of science. President Joe Biden requested the report in his October executive order on AI, which instructed PCAST to study the potential of AI to address “major societal and global challenges.” He also asked for the report to identify “issues that may hinder the effective use of AI in research and practices needed to ensure that AI is used responsibly for research.”

Future of US Nuclear Science Facilities Up for Discussion

The Nuclear Science Advisory Committee will meet Friday to review a draft report recommending priorities for the next decade of nuclear physics facilities funded by the Department of Energy. Produced by an NSAC subcommittee at DOE’s request, the report lists the Electron-Ion Collider and Ton-Scale Neutrinoless Double-Beta Decay Campaign as “absolutely central” to maintaining U.S. leadership in the field, the highest level of importance in the criteria rubric set by DOE. The remaining five projects that DOE asked the panel to review are all listed as “important,” the second-highest level. The committee concluded that all but two of the seven projects are ready to commence construction: the Project 8 neutrino mass measurement effort and the Electron-Ion Collider Detector II, for which it finds their missions and technical requirements are “not yet fully defined.”

In Case You Missed It

President Joe Biden participates in a tour, Friday, May 20, 2022, at Samsung Electronics Pyeongtaek Campus in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.

From left: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, President Joe Biden, and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol tour a Samsung electronics facility in South Korea in 2022. The Commerce Department announced in April 2024 that it plans to give Samsung $6.4 billion to expand semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

(Adam Schultz/White House)

Huge CHIPS Grants Awarded to TSMC, Samsung, and Micron

The U.S. government indicated this month that it plans to issue grants of more than $6 billion each to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Samsung, and Micron, on the heels of an $8.5 billion grant for Intel announced last month. TSMC is slated to receive a $6.6 billion grant and $5 billion in loans to help build a third chip factory in Phoenix, Arizona. A $6.4 billion grant to Samsung will help the South Korean company expand its existing facility in Austin, Texas, and build a network of four smaller fabs in nearby Taylor. Micron, a U.S. company, is poised to receive $6.1 billion to build new semiconductor plants in New York and Idaho. Intel’s grant will support factory construction and modernization projects in Arizona, New Mexico, Ohio, and Oregon. All of the grants will be funded through the CHIPS and Science Act, which created a $39 billion fund to support manufacturing incentive grants. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said last week that the department plans to give out all of those funds by the end of this year. These manufacturing incentives have been in such high demand that the department has suspended plans to use a portion of the incentive funds to support R&D facilities construction or modernization.

Dragonfly Rotorcraft Mission Proceeds Despite Cost Doubling

NASA has permitted the Dragonfly rotorcraft mission to Saturn’s moon Titan to enter the final stage of design, the agency announced last week. The mission is led by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland and is expected to launch to Titan in July 2028. The project had to be replanned multiple times but now has a green light to proceed to construction and testing once the final design is completed. NASA stated it now expects the mission to cost $3.35 billion, about double the proposed cost. The agency attributes the increase to a combination of the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, “in-depth design iteration,” and additional funding for a heavy-lift vehicle to shorten the travel time to Saturn. “The Dragonfly mission is an incredible opportunity to explore an ocean world in a way that we have never done before,” said Dragonfly Principal Investigator Elizabeth “Zibi” Turtle of APL in a press release. “The team is dedicated and enthusiastic about accomplishing this unprecedented investigation of the complex carbon chemistry that exists on the surface of Titan and the innovative technology bringing this first-of-its-kind space mission to life.”

NASA Administrator Testifies on Budget Challenges

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson defended spending cuts to the Mars Sample Return mission and a satellite-servicing mission called OSAM-1 during a hearing held last week by the House Appropriations Committee. NASA plans to cancel OSAM-1 due to its high cost and technical challenges, requesting just $11 million in fiscal year 2025 for close-out costs despite having already spent around $1.5 billion on the mission. While Rep. David Trone (D-MD) said the cancellation would be “catastrophic for scientific innovation in Maryland,” as the mission is led by the Goddard Space Flight Center in the state, Nelson defended the decision in light of the limited budget NASA has received from Congress. “With less money, we have to make some very tough choices,” Nelson said. Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) also questioned the wisdom of NASA’s decision to cut the Mars Sample Return budget, arguing the move is “cutting to the bone, and in this case, potentially amputating [the Jet Propulsion Lab].” Nelson said he was optimistic about the future of MSR and JPL, citing plans to consider new options to bring back Mars samples in a more cost-effective and timely way. Given the constraints on NASA’s annual budget, Nelson also used the hearing to repeat his hope that Congress use a supplemental spending package to pay for the construction of a deorbit “tug” for the International Space Station that will direct the station’s reentry over the South Pacific once it is retired.

House Debates Allegation that NIH Interfered in COVID Origins Research

A House subcommittee formed to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic held a hearing on April 16 to discuss the theory that leaders at the National Institutes of Health meddled in the publication of a research paper to downplay the possibility of a lab leak. The paper in question, called “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2” was published in Nature Medicine, with a related letter published in The Lancet. Subcommittee Chair Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) published a report last year theorizing that NIH leaders — including Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci — used “undue influence” to encourage the paper’s authors to argue that the pandemic was of zoonotic origin. “Rather than journals being a wealth of information and opinions about this novel virus, of which we knew so little, they helped establish a party line that literally put a chilling effect on scientific research regarding the origins of COVID-19,” Wenstrup asserted at the outset of the hearing last week. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), ranking member of the subcommittee, countered that Wenstrup’s probe “has failed to substantiate any of their claims about doctors Fauci and Collins” and worried the hearing set a “dangerous precedent that if Congress doesn’t like what you publish, you’ll be hauled in before a congressional committee to answer for it until they prove their conspiratorial narrative.” The editors-in-chief of Nature and the Lancet declined to participate in the hearing so the sole witness was the editor-in-chief of Science, Holden Thorp, who defended the integrity of the peer review process at his journal.

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 22

Battelle: Innovations in Climate Resilience Conference
(continues through Wednesday)

National Academies: Technology transfer symposium: Approaches to advance commercial applications
10:00 am - 5:00 pm

AEI: 30 years of environmental progress: Is it time at last to be optimistic?
10:00 - 11:15 am

AEI: Is climate change to blame for natural disasters? The science and politics of extreme weather
6:00 - 7:15 pm

Tuesday, April 23

National Academies: Future topical updates to the “Guide for the care and use of laboratory animals”
(continues Wednesday)

White House: President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology meeting
11:00 am - 12:15 pm

National Academies: Artificial intelligence to assist mathematical reasoning: Webinar on proof assistants
1:00 - 2:00 pm

George Washington University: Briefing on the national security risks of new nuclear power plants
1:00 pm

NSF: NSF’s new mentoring requirements for graduate students
2:00 - 3:30 pm

Atlantic Council: Space industry for space strategy
4:00 - 5:00 pm

Wednesday, April 24

LPI: Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group
(continues through Friday)

STM: Annual US Conference
(continues Thursday)

NASA: National Space-based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Advisory Board meeting
(continues Thursday)

DOD: Defense Science Board meeting
(continues Thursday)

Brookings: Issues at stake in the 2024 election: Revitalizing American industry
9:00 - 11:15 am

Harvard Belfer Center: The past, present, and future course of the U.S. strategy for technology leadership
10:00 - 11:15 am

RAND: How can new technologies help mitigate the effects of climate change?
12:00 - 1:00pm

ITIF: Harnessing AI for carbon neutrality
12:00 - 1:00 pm

National Academies: Artificial intelligence to assist mathematical reasoning: Webinar on the future of collaboration
1:00 - 2:00 pm

NSF: Planned Alaska and Arctic research expeditions for the 2024 research season
1:00 - 3:00 pm

National Academies: 2025-2035 decadal survey of ocean sciences for NSF
3:00 - 5:00 pm

UC San Diego: The rise and fall of technology in China: From history to the present
4:00 pm PDT

Thursday, April 25

NASA: Human Exploration and Operations Committee meeting
(continues Friday)

NASA: Biological and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Friday)

National Academies: Review of the SBIR and STTR programs at NASA, meeting three
(continues Friday)

National Academies: A science strategy for the human exploration of Mars, kickoff meeting
(continues Friday)

NOAA: National Integrated Drought Information System Executive Council meeting
8:30 am - 3:30 pm

National Academies: Artificial intelligence to assist mathematical reasoning: Webinar on machine learning approaches to mathematical discovery
1:00 - 2:00 pm

EPA: Radionuclide Cancer Risk Coefficients Review Panel meeting
1:00 - 5:00 pm

NSF: Implementing the common forms for the biographical sketch and current and pending (other) support
2:00 - 3:00 pm

Friday, April 26

DOE/NSF: DOE/NSF Nuclear Science Advisory Committee meeting
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

AAAS: Breakthrough of the Year award ceremony
4:30 - 7:00 pm

Monday, April 29

National Academies: Water Science and Technology Board spring meeting
11:00 am - 4:00 pm

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)
Heising-Simons Foundation: Science program officer (ongoing)
Union of Concerned Scientists: Science network mobilization manager (ongoing)
◆ Bipartisan Policy Center: Associate director, energy program (ongoing)
ODNI: Deputy assistant director of national intelligence for science and technology (April 30)
AAS: Bahcall Public Policy Fellowship (May 1)
AIP: Summer science policy internship (May 1)
NNSA: Finance and budget director (May 1)
◆ Office of Naval Research: Division director, directed energy (May 28)

Solicitations

NSF: NSF advisory panels call for new members (ongoing)
BIS: Export control advisory committees call for new members (ongoing)
FAS: Renewing the call for bold policy ideas (ongoing)
OMB: RFI on responsible procurement of AI in government (April 29)
USPTO: National Medal of Technology 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: Science Advisory Board call for nominations (May 9)
USPTO: RFI on translating more innovation to the marketplace (May 14)
◆ DOE: RFI on critical materials market dynamics (May 20)
◆ Commerce Department: RFI on AI and open government data assets (July 16)

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

OMB: OMB finalizes update to Uniform Grants Guidance
OMB: Updated guidance regarding COVID-19 safe federal workplace
CNN: Biden marks Earth Day with new solar energy funds and steps to stand up American Climate Corps
OSTP: Spanish translation of Fifth National Climate Assessment now available
OSTP: Marking one year of progress since release of first-ever ocean climate action plan
White House: Assessing methods to integrate the physical risks and transition risks and opportunities of climate change into the president’s macroeconomic forecast (report)
OSTP: Implementation of federal prize and citizen science authority for fiscal years 21-22 (report)
OSTP: 2023 progress report on the implementation of the federal STEM education strategic plan

Congress

SpaceNews: Why the White House and Congress can’t see eye-to-eye on regulating commercial space (perspective by Jeff Foust)
E&E News: Lawmakers cinch verbal deal on advanced nuclear package
Reuters: US lawmakers introduce bill to support nuclear fusion development
E&E News: Capito airs concerns about NRC chair up for another term
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT): Senators unveil bipartisan framework to mitigate extreme AI risks
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA): California Democrats urge Secretary Raimondo to establish National Semiconductor Technology Center HQ in CA
Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA): Bipartisan bill introduced to establish biosecurity guardrails in DNA research
AAUP: House committee interference in higher education must not be tolerated (perspective by Irene Mulvey)

Science, Society, and the Economy

NSF: New funding opportunity seeks to invest in additional NSF Regional Innovation Engines
NSF: NSF expands the NSF Convergence Accelerator to 10 regions nationwide
Nature: CERN’s impact goes way beyond tiny particles
New York Times: James Dean, founding director of NASA art program, dies at 92
Issues in Science and Technology: Mud, muddling, and science policy (perspective by Lisa Margonelli)

Education and Workforce

Chronicle of Higher Education: Tracking higher ed’s dismantling of DEI
House Energy and Commerce Committee: Republicans expand investigation into sexual harassment at NIH
The Guardian: Chinese students in US tell of ‘chilling’ interrogations and deportations
Nature: Shrouded in secrecy: How science is harmed by the bullying and harassment rumour mill
Issues in Science and Technology: Tools that would make STEM degrees more affordable remain unexamined (perspective by Dominique Baker)
Nature: Canadian science gets biggest boost to PhD and postdoc pay in 20 years

Research Management

NIH: Announcing revisions to the NIH fellowship review and application process
Science: Researchers need ‘open’ bibliographic databases, new declaration says
SPARC: Barcelona declaration pushes for open default to research information
Physics World: Purpose-led publishing: Antonia Seymour outlines the role of not-for-profit publishers (audio interview)
Scholarly Kitchen: Preprints, journals and openness: Disentangling goals and incentives (perspective by Robert Harington)
Science: Anonymizing research funding applications could reduce ‘prestige privilege’
APS News: That’s not physics (perspective by Andrew Zangwill)
Science: Should researchers use AI to write papers? Group aims for community-driven standards

Labs and Facilities

Los Alamos National Lab: Tackling AI with Venado: The newest supercomputer at LANL (video)
Sandia National Labs: 1.15 billion artificial neurons arrive at Sandia
Livermore Lab: Igniting scientific discovery with AI and supercomputing (video)
National Energy Technology Lab: NETL expertise in high-performance computing accelerates production of materials for clean energy
Universities Space Research Association: USRA announces collaboration with BCG and NASA to launch a generative AI lab for science and engineering
Science|Business: EU science advisers back call for a ‘CERN for AI’ to aid research
Physics World: Why we still need a CERN for climate change (perspective by Tim Palmer)

Computing and Communications

Computing Research Association: Complicated situations abound for the requested budgets of NIST, NASA, and NIH
New York Times: Microsoft makes high-stakes play in tech cold ear with Emirati AI deal
Commerce Department: Raimondo announces expansion of US AI safety institute leadership team
Physics World: Europe plans to build 100-qubit quantum computer by 2026

Space

SpaceNews: A ‘slow bleed’ of funding threatens NASA’s science flagships
SpaceNews: NASA open to significantly reduced return of Mars samples
JPL: NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter team says goodbye … for now
AP: NASA confirms mystery object that crashed through roof of Florida home came from space station
Space Review: Lunar rover racing
NASA: Sweden joins Artemis Accords
NASA: Slovenia joins Artemis Accords
SpaceNews: FAA to require reentry vehicles licensed before launch
SpaceNews: China to leverage growing commercial space sector to launch megaconstellations

Weather, Climate, and Environment

E&E News: House panel OKs rollback of climate disclosure rules
NSF: New research centers will investigate effects of ocean-related problems on human health
NSF: NSF announces $20 million EPSCoR Track-1 award to combat climate change in Alaska
Science: Daring James Bond mission drill Antarctic ices cores could reveal future sea level rise
E&E News: Climate scientist plans her Exxon exit after making $3.8M
Science: Centering Earth in policy-making
Lincoln Lab: An AI dataset carves new paths to tornado detection

Energy

ANS: Kathryn Huff stepping down as head of DOE Nuclear Energy office on May 3
ANS: DOE awards $59.7 million for university nuclear R&D in 2024; $1 billion in 15 years
New York Times: The fantasy of reviving nuclear energy (perspective by Stephanie Cooke)
CERN Courier: Accelerator sustainability in focus
DOE: The pathway to: Innovative grid deployment liftoff (report)
DOE: New DOE report outlines solutions to meet increasing electricity demand and cut emissions
Inside Climate News: Is it time to retire the term ‘clean energy’?

Defense

Los Alamos National Lab: The deterrence issue: LANL’s nuclear weapons work plays a vital role in keeping the nation safe
DOE: NNSA completes major infrastructure modernization project to support power transmission at Nevada National Security Site
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: The short march to China’s hydrogen bomb
Space Review: Nukes in space: a bad idea in the 1960s and an even worse one now (perspective by Michael Mulvihill)
CSIS: Space threat assessment 2024 (report)
NNSA: Record of decision for the final environmental impact statement for the surplus plutonium disposition program
Alaska Beacon: New Homeland Security research center marks opening at University of Alaska Anchorage

Biomedical

New York Times: WHO broadens definition of airborne diseases
GAO: Public health preparedness: Mpox response highlights need for HHS to address recurring challenges (report)
New York Times: Colorado bill aims to protect consumer brain data
Washington Post: Why I’m going public with my prostate cancer diagnosis (perspective by Francis Collins)

International Affairs

National Academy of Sciences: G7 science academies call on governments to take action on AI, nuclear arms control, and social inequalities and poverty
Science: New initiative aims to bolster funding for scientists in war-torn Ukraine
Wall Street Journal: Russia jails scientist who developed hypersonic technologies after treason conviction
Science|Business: Commission adds extra €1.4B to EU research spending this year
Science|Business: High-profile report urges EU to create a ‘fifth freedom’ of research and innovation
Financial Times: UK proposes crackdown on foreign security risks to university sector
Science: France needs a chief science adviser (perspective by Patrick Lemaire and François Massol)
Nature: How India can become a science powerhouse (editorial)

More from FYI
FYI
/
Article
As NSF grapples with an 8% cut this year, agency leaders are telling Congress that further reductions would pose serious risks to STEM talent development and national security.
FYI
/
Article
The Cosmic Microwave Background Stage 4 experiment cannot move forward as planned due to NSF’s decision to prioritize upgrading current infrastructure in Antarctica.
FYI
/
Article
A new bipartisan blueprint endorsed by the Senate majority leader proposes using “emergency” appropriations to ramp up non-defense AI R&D spending to at least $32 billion per year, with some of the money going to broader priorities such as implementing the CHIPS and Science Act.
FYI
/
Article
The centers will aim to improve the durability and energy efficiency of microelectronics.
FYI
/
Article
Many federal research facilities are operating beyond their planned lifespan and are in poor condition, according to a new cross-agency assessment.
FYI
/
Article
The bill allows the energy secretary to issue waivers but aims to wean the U.S. off Russian nuclear fuel.

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.