FYI: Science Policy News
WEEK OF APRIL 29, 2024
What’s Ahead

Cantwell committee hearing.jpg

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) speaks at a committee hearing.

(Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee)

Cantwell Proposes Funding Science with Spectrum Auctions

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, introduced a bill last week that proposes using electromagnetic spectrum band auctions to raise billions of dollars for programs authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act, among other objectives. Called the Spectrum and National Security Act, Cantwell’s proposal would raise up to $3.3 billion for the National Science Foundation, $1.7 billion for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and $2 billion for the Department of Commerce’s Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs program. It would also provide up to $3 billion to expand the department’s semiconductor manufacturing incentives program, which has been in heavy demand. Cantwell’s committee will vote on whether to advance the bill at a meeting on Wednesday. (Update: The committee removed the legislation from the agenda shortly before the meeting.)

Cantwell was a chief architect of the CHIPS and Science Act, which appropriated $52 billion for semiconductor initiatives but did not include any funding for other science and technology programs authorized in the act. Congress so far has not come close to meeting the funding targets set in the act, and so the spectrum auction funds would partially make up for that shortfall. Another aim of the bill is to improve federal spectrum management and coordination and reauthorize the FCC’s auction authority, which lapsed in March 2023. It would also guide spectrum innovation and R&D initiatives such as national testbeds for dynamic spectrum sharing.

NSF Board to Discuss Giant Telescopes, Merit Review, and AI

The National Science Foundation will provide details this week on the process it will use to decide whether to seek construction funding for the Thirty Meter Telescope or the Giant Magellan Telescope. NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan will describe the process during an open session of the National Science Board’s first quarterly meeting of 2024, occurring this Wednesday and Thursday. The board announced in February that it will limit NSF’s contribution to $1.6 billion and anticipated that the cap will require the agency to drop one of the telescopes from consideration.

Also at the meeting, the board’s Commission on Merit Review will present preliminary recommendations for updating the criteria NSF uses to assess grant applications. The commission’s review has focused on clarifying the “broader impacts” criterion that judges the potential of research projects to have societal benefits. In addition, the board will host a panel discussion titled “The Future is Now: Harnessing AI for Good” featuring Microsoft’s chief scientific officer and representatives from three research universities. This will be the last meeting for eight board members whose terms expire May 10. The meeting will be followed by NSF’s awards gala, at which the board will present its annual Science and Society and Vannevar Bush awards.

Fusion Facility Priorities Report Up for Review

The Fusion Energy Science Advisory Committee will meet Tuesday to discuss a draft report recommending priority facility projects for the Department of Energy to pursue over the next decade. The DOE Office of Science tasked each of its advisory committees with assessing the readiness and scientific significance of major construction projects in their respective disciplines. The office asked a FESAC subcommittee to review 10 projects: ITER, the Matter in Extreme Conditions upgrade to the LCLS X-ray laser, the Fusion Prototypic Neutron Source (FPNS), the eXcite tokamak, the Blanket Component Test Facility (BCTF), the High Heat Flux Test Facility, the Midscale Stellarator, the NSTX-U Liquid Metal/Core Edge Facility, the Fuel Cycle Test Facility (FCTF), and the Fusion Integration Research and Science Test Facility. The subcommittee added two items to the list: the Exhaust and Confinement Integration Tokamak Experiment and New Inertial Fusion Energy Concepts and Upgrades. It concludes that four of the facilities are “absolutely central” to contributing to world-leading science or closing fusion technology gaps within the next decade, listing them in alphabetical order: BCTF, FCTF, FPNS, and ITER. The remaining facilities are described as “important and well-deserving” of DOE support. The subcommittee notes it did not attempt to rank order any of the facilities beyond the two groupings. At the meeting, FESAC will also hear from a separate subcommittee that will recommend what FES programs should be prioritized to support the goal of deploying a pilot fusion power plant.

More Events in the Week Ahead

  • The House will vote on legislation that would update policy for weather programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a separate bill supporting NOAA’s work to understand interactions between wildfires and the weather. Refreshing NOAA’s weather research and forecasting programs is a major priority of Science Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK). (Monday)
  • NASA Administrator Bill Nelson will testify on the agency’s budget request for fiscal year 2025 before the House Science Committee. (Tuesday)
  • Top Defense Department officials will discuss their science and technology priorities in the fiscal year 2025 budget request at a webinar. (Tuesday)
  • The Defense Science Board will meet in closed session to discuss forthcoming reports on climate change and global security, commercial space, and digital engineering, among other topics. (Wed-Thu)
  • A week of events highlighting fusion energy research in the U.S. begins next Monday. (May 6 to 10)
In Case You Missed It

PCAST Sept 23 Biden

President Joe Biden at a briefing on artificial intelligence from members of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in September 2023.

(Cameron Smith / The White House)

PCAST Backs Use of AI to Accelerate Scientific Research

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology published a report on April 29 that explores how AI can accelerate scientific research and help tackle major societal challenges. The report emphasizes that AI should support, not replace, human scientists and contains a series of recommendations for federal research agencies, national labs, industry, and academia to develop AI tools and systems that are beneficial to research. PCAST unanimously approved the report’s publication at a meeting last week that previewed its recommendations.

The report recommends federal funding agencies encourage innovative approaches to integrating AI into scientific workflows and continue to support traditional human-led scientific research. It also proposes that agencies require researchers they fund to provide responsible AI use plans to assess AI-related risk in alignment with the White House’s AI Bill of Rights blueprint and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s AI Risk Management Framework. Additionally, the report recommends Congress fully fund NSF’s National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource, highlighting its potential as a stepping stone for even more ambitious programs. PCAST also calls for expanding NSF’s National Secure Data Service Demonstration project and the Census Bureau’s Federal Statistical Research Data Centers to give federally funded researchers greater access to federal datasets.

PCAST’s study is one of several initiatives completed in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order on the responsible use of AI, published in October. For instance, the Department of Energy also launched a website highlighting DOE-developed AI tools and published a report on emerging applications of AI in energy research, among other AI-related actions.

NSF Awards $90 Million to STEM Education Platform

The National Science Foundation will spend $90 million over five years on SafeInsights, a STEM-education platform led by Rice University’s open access publishing nonprofit OpenStax, the agency announced last week. SafeInsights is described by NSF as a hub for research coordination that will leverage data across “a range of major digital learning platforms that currently serve tens of millions of US. learners across education levels.” The award is part of NSF’s Mid-scale Research Infrastructure-2 program, which funds major infrastructure projects costing between $20 million and $100 million. “There is an urgent need for research-informed strategies capable of transforming educational systems, empowering our nation’s workforce, and propelling discoveries in the science of learning,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan in a press release about the award.

Mars Science Strategy Study Launches

The National Academies held an event last week to mark the kickoff of a study titled “A Science Strategy for the Human Exploration of Mars,” which will be led by planetary scientist Linda Elkins-Tanton and spacesuit engineer Dava Newman. NASA commissioned the study to help identify the highest priority science objectives of crewed missions to Mars and spool out the decisions that need to be made to design a successful mission architecture. At the kickoff event, representatives from various NASA research institutes presented their perspectives on matters such as the science priorities of various decadal surveys and NASA’s work to date in planning for crewed Mars missions.

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 29

CSET: AI, cybersecurity, and critical infrastructure
10:00 - 11:00 am

Center for American Progress: A progressive, principled, and pragmatic approach toward China policy
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

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

Tuesday, April 30

NRC: Reactor Safeguards Advisory Committee meeting
(continues through Friday)

DOD: Navy Science and Technology Board meeting
(continues Wednesday)

NIST: 2024 Manufacturing USA network meeting
(continues Wednesday)

National Academies: Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee spring meeting
(continues Wednesday)

DOE: Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee meeting
8:30 am - 2:00 pm

BIS: Regulations and Procedures Technical Advisory Committee meeting
9:00 am

National Academies: Empowering senior higher education leaders in developing an equitable research ecosystem: A workshop
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

National Academies: Space Technology Industry-Government-University Roundtable spring meeting
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

ASU CSPO: ASU’s Milo Space Science Institute: Increasing the world’s access to space
9:00 - 10:00 am

Atlantic Council: Summit on the future of energy
9:30 am

House: DOD budget request hearing
10:00 am, Armed Services Committee

DOE: Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee meeting
10:00 am - 5:00 pm

House: NASA budget request hearing
10:00 am, Science Committee

House: A focus on management: Oversight of the Office of Management and Budget
10:00 am, Oversight Committee

House: EPA budget request hearing
10:00 am, Appropriations Committee

Senate: Education Department budget request hearing
10:00 am, Appropriations Committee

National Academies: Meeting between Army Research Lab leadership and the Army Research Lab Technical Assessment Board
11:45 am - 1:00 pm

NDIA: FY25 DOD S&T budget priorities
1:00 - 3:00 pm

FLC: Explore Lincoln Lab facilities: Microelectronics Lab
2:00 - 3:00 pm

House: Nuclear forces and atomic energy defense budget request hearing
3:30 pm, Armed Services Committee

ITIF: Reviving Canada’s innovation economy
6:30 - 8:30 pm

Wednesday, May 1

National Academies: Addressing environmental damage in Ukraine: A workshop
(continues through Friday)

NSB: National Science Board meeting
(continues Thursday)

DOD: Defense Science Board meeting
(continues Thursday)

Senate: Meeting to advance the nomination of Christopher Hanson to be a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
9:45 am, Environment and Public Works Committee

House: DOE budget request hearing
10:00 am, Energy and Commerce Committee

Senate: Denial, disinformation, and doublespeak: Big Oil’s evolving efforts to avoid accountability for climate change
10:00 am, Budget Committee

Senate: Meeting to advance the Spectrum and National Security Act and other legislation
10:00 am, Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee

House: Interior Department budget request hearing
10:00 am, Natural Resources Committee

House: A hearing with the president of EcoHealth Alliance, Dr. Peter Daszak
10:00 am, Oversight Committee

Bipartisan Policy Center: Carbon dioxide removal: The need, the now, and the next
10:00 - 11:00 am

AEI: Expanding frontiers: Fiscal policies for innovation and technology diffusion
10:30 - 11:30 am

Senate: EPA budget request hearing
2:00 pm, Appropriations Committee

House: National security space programs budget request hearing
3:30 pm, Armed Services Committee

ESEP: Science policy happy hour
5:00 - 7:00 pm

Columbia University: From private and insular to public and engaged: The history of science in the century since Sarton
6:30 - 8:00 pm

Thursday, May 2

Senate: Hearing on worldwide threats
9:30 am, Armed Services Committee

NASA: NASA Advisory Council STEM Engagement Committee meeting
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Senate: Interior Department budget request hearing
10:00 am, Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Brookings: Emerging technologies and geopolitical divides: The transformation of the US-Japan alliance
10:30 - 11:45 am

Resources for the Future: Reducing power plant pollution: An overview of EPA’s recent emissions rules
3:00 - 4:15 pm

SIA: How semiconductor innovation drives greater energy efficiency and productivity
2:00 pm

Brookings: Exploring Mars and the Moon
2:00 - 3:00 pm

Friday, May 3

No events.

Monday, May 6

US Fusion Energy: Fusion Energy Week
(continues through Friday)

Hoover Institution: Strengthening trust with India: Implications of the 2008 US-India civil nuclear agreement
6:30 - 8:00 pm PT

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


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: Science advisor for public access (ongoing)
Bipartisan Policy Center: Associate director, energy program (ongoing)
AAS: Bahcall Public Policy Fellowship (May 1)
AIP: Summer science policy internship (May 1)
NNSA: Finance and budget director (May 1)
◆USGS: Associate director for core science systems (May 3)
NNSA: Assistant deputy administrator for engineering and technology maturation (May 8)
Office of Naval Research: Division director, directed energy (May 28)
COGR: Director for costing and financial compliance (May 31)
NSF: Division director, Division of Astronomical Sciences (June 24)


NSF: NSF advisory panels call for new members (ongoing)
BIS: Export control advisory committees call for new members (ongoing)
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)
NASA: RFI on NASA-identified space technology shortfalls (May 13)
USPTO: RFI on translating more innovation to the marketplace (May 14)
DOE: RFI on critical materials market dynamics (May 20)
NOAA: Advisory Committee on Excellence in Space call for nominations (May 29)
PCAST: RFI on groundwater challenges (July 1)
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

Around the Web

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

White House

COGR: OMB’s new guidance for federal financial assistance: A first look (report)
White House: Remarks by President Biden on the CHIPS and Science Act in Syracuse, NY
OSTP: OSTP announces actions to spur the commercialization of climate and clean energy technologies
White House: Biden-Harris administration sets first-ever national goal of zero-emissions freight sector, announces nearly $1.5 billion to support transition to zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles
Brookings: A conversation with US Chief Data Scientist Dominique Duval-Diop (audio interview)


CRS: Regulation of commercial human spaceflight safety: Overview and issues for Congress (report)
House Science Committee: Republicans continue to seek answers from administration on LNG export ban
Washington Times: Reliable energy is a national security issue (perspective by Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN))

Education and Workforce

Nature: NIH pay raise for postdocs and PhD students could have US ripple effect
Science: UK visa changes imperil recruitment of scientific talent, policy experts warn
Science: Science needs neurodiversity (perspective by Holden Thorp)

Research Management

NSB: New report shows US and China are the world’s top producers of knowledge- and tech-intensive industries
AAAS: US R&D and innovation in a global context: The 2024 data update
Science|Business: EU should spend more on Horizon Europe, Macron says
COGR: Results from COGR’s survey on research institutions’ experiences with DOD policy for risk-based security reviews of fundamental research
Association of Research Libraries: Guiding principles for AI (report)
Nature: Judge dismisses superconductivity physicist’s lawsuit against university
Nature: Retractions are part of science, but misconduct isn’t — lessons from a superconductivity lab (editorial)
Nature: Algorithm ranks peer reviewers by reputation — but critics warn of bias

Labs and Facilities

Optics and Photonics News: New era for X-ray lasers
Nature: Superconductivity hunt gets boost from China’s $220 million physics ‘playground’
DOE: The National Virtual Climate Laboratory is your guide to climate science
Jefferson Lab: DOE under secretary for science and innovation visits Jefferson Lab Bell Labs’ new headquarters will honor pioneering Black inventors in lobby
New York Times: In race to build AI, tech plans a big plumbing upgrade

Computing and Communications

Washington Post: Top AI companies seek more cash for the lab keeping AI safe
Nature: Lethal AI weapons are here: How can we control them?
Wired: RAND CEO Jason Matheny does the math on the dangers of AI
Bloomberg Government: Commerce Department delays debut of troubled finance system at chips agency
Export Compliance Daily: Commerce Department hears arguments favoring and against export controls on AI models
New York Times: ‘To the future’: Saudi Arabia spends big to become an AI superpower
Lawrence Livermore National Lab: LLNL team accelerates multi-physics simulations with El Capitan predecessor systems
Institute for Progress: How to make the NSTC a moonshot success


Scientific American: NASA’s rocks are stuck on Mars. SpaceX’s starship could retrieve them
South China Morning Post: China aims to beat US in race for Mars samples with 2030 goal: space official
JPL: NASA’s Voyager 1 resumes sending engineering updates to earth
NRAO: Protecting ALMA’s skies
Reuters: Scottish spaceport moves closer to satellite launches
Research Professional: UK advisers call for regulation of space technology
BBC: Japan comes face to face with its own space junk
SpaceNews: Space weather requires our attention now more than ever (perspective by Alexey Shirobokov and Alex Pospekhov)

Weather, Climate, and Environment

DOE: DOE announces final rule to propel federal buildings toward zero emissions
Argonne National Lab: Argonne targets zero emissions and encourages others to join the journey
Pacific Northwest National Lab: Beyond higher temperatures: Preparing for national security risks posed by climate change
Reuters: NASA chief asks nations to work together on climate change
NOAA: NOAA expands availability of new heat forecast tool ahead of summer
Inside Climate News: Nixon advisers’ climate research plan: another lost chance on the road to crisis
NSF: Using long-term research associated data (ULTRA-data)


Washington Post: New rules will slash air, water and climate pollution from US power plants
Utility Dive: NRC proposes streamlined environmental reviews for new reactor license applications
American Nuclear Society: X-energy receives federal tax credit for TRISO fuel facility
Lawfare: Nuclear friend-shoring? Issues with uranium enrichment cooperation (perspective by Newell Highsmith and Toby Dalton)
DOE: Offshore wind liftoff report and $48 million in new funding to accelerate technology and manufacturing
DOE: DOE reduces regulatory hurdles for energy storage, transmission, and solar projects


SpaceNews: Russia vetoes UN resolution on nuclear weapons in space
NNSA: Representatives from NNSA, Japan, and the Republic of Korea sign memorandum to cooperate on R&D
NNSA: NNSA advances bilateral nonproliferation cooperation with both Japan and the Republic of Korea to increase proliferation resistance of nuclear reactors
NNSA: The potential impacts of climate change on NNSA’s work
New York Times: Exploring atomic bomb history beyond Los Alamos The Army has officially deployed laser weapons overseas to combat enemy drones
C4ISRNET: Defense Innovation Unit prepares to execute $800 million funding boost
Scientific American: Soviet-era pseudoscience lurks behind ‘Havana Syndrome’ worries (perspective by Keith Kloor)


Science: The US government is taking action to stop ‘cow flu.’ Is it too little, too late?
MIT Technology Review: A new kind of gene-edited pig kidney was just transplanted into a person
New York Times: Generative AI arrives in the gene editing world of CRISPR
NSF: New center supported by NSF will catalyze data-driven insights in molecular and cellular biosciences

International Affairs

BIS: US launches the Disruptive Technology Protection Network with Japan and South Korea
Science|Business: OECD science ministers commit to better forecast and steer disruptive new technologies
Nature: NATO is boosting AI and climate research as scientific diplomacy remains on ice
Science|Business: Three Germans arrested for passing military technology to China
Wall Street Journal: Germany considers watering down plan to scrutinize Chinese investments
Science|Business: EU opens exploratory talks with Singapore on Horizon Europe association
Research Professional: EU and Turkey agree to stronger research links

More from FYI
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.
The Cosmic Microwave Background Stage 4 experiment cannot move forward as planned due to NSF’s decision to prioritize upgrading current infrastructure in Antarctica.
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.
The centers will aim to improve the durability and energy efficiency of microelectronics.
Many federal research facilities are operating beyond their planned lifespan and are in poor condition, according to a new cross-agency assessment.
The bill allows the energy secretary to issue waivers but aims to wean the U.S. off Russian nuclear fuel.

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