FYI: Science Policy News
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WEEK OF MAY 20, 2024
What’s Ahead

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan pictured testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan pictured testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2022. The duo is appearing before the same committee again this week.

(Senate Appropriations Committee)

House Seeks 6% Overall Cut to Non-Defense Programs

The House Appropriations Committee is meeting Thursday to approve its plans to propose a 6% cut to non-defense spending and a 1% increase to defense spending for fiscal year 2025. Committee Chair Tom Cole (R–OK) announced the toplines last week as well as preliminary budget allocations for the panel’s 12 subcommittees that together draft the federal discretionary budget. He also released the committee’s schedule for advancing the spending bills. The subcommittee that funds NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Commerce Department plans to advance its spending proposals on June 12, and the subcommittee for the Department of Energy plans to advance its proposals on June 28. Reacting to the allocations, Democrats on the committee stated they will not support anything less than a 1% increase to non-defense spending.

Meanwhile, leaders of various science agencies will testify this week on their budget request for fiscal year 2025. The heads of NASA and the National Science Foundation will appear together on Thursday before the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will also hear from leaders of the Department of Energy on Wednesday and the National Institutes of Health on Thursday. The head of the National Institute of Standards and Technology will appear before the House Science Committee on Wednesday, following a hearing last week focused on NSF. At that event, the former chair of NSF’s board, Dan Reed, testified that a 6% cut to NSF would be “devastating” to the agency, coming on the heels of the 8% cut it received for the current fiscal year.

Annual Defense Policy Bill Advancing in the House

The House Armed Services Committee will meet Wednesday to advance its draft of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025, legislation that Congress passes annually to update policy for the Department of Defense and National Nuclear Security Administration. The committee has already released subcommittee drafts of its proposals for NNSA and for DOD R&D programs, as well as the “chairman’s mark” that covers both areas. The committee often adds contentious proposals via amendments before it advances the legislation to the full House for consideration. In recent years, these additions have included various research security measures, though they are often moderated or removed from the legislation in final negotiations.

Biden Science Advisors to Discuss the ‘National Purpose of Research’

The future of the U.S. research enterprise will be the focus of a meeting Wednesday of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. David Goldston, the director of MIT’s Washington Office, and Lisa Margonelli, editor-in-chief of the magazine Issues in Science and Technology will present on “the national purpose of research.” PCAST will then hear presentations on “emerging research models at universities” from Willie May, vice president for research and economic development at Morgan State University; Karen Plaut, vice president for research at Purdue University; and Arun Majumdar, dean of the sustainability school at Stanford University.

NASA Scientists to Discuss Telescope Project Strategies

Nobel laureate John Mather and NASA Astrophysics Division head Mark Clampin will discuss challenges and strategies in building pathbreaking space telescopes at a free public event on June 5 at AIP’s new office in Washington, DC. Mather won a share of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the spacecraft that made the first detailed observations of the cosmic microwave background, and from 1995 to 2023 he was the senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. RSVPs are required as space at the event will be limited. A livestream will be available.

Also on Our Radar

  • The scientific publisher consortium CHORUS is hosting a webinar on opportunities and challenges associated with the use of persistent identifiers in scholarly research. (Wednesday)
  • A workshop to inform NSF’s new Research on Research Security program will be held this week at Rice University’s Baker Institute. The opening keynote by NSF’s chief research security officer will be streamed online. The program will fund academic research to identify the scale of research security threats and assess the efficacy of risk mitigation efforts such as export control training, overseas travel restrictions, and cybersecurity. (Thu-Fri)
  • Registration is open for the inaugural “State of the Science” address by the president of the National Academy of Sciences. (June 26)
In Case You Missed It

Bipartisan Senate AI Working Group Schumer Press Conference May 5 2024

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks at a May 15 press conference on artificial intelligence policy.

(Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

Senate AI Blueprint Proposes ‘Emergency’ R&D Surge

A bipartisan quartet of senators led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released a blueprint for artificial intelligence policy last week that proposes Congress use “emergency” appropriations to ramp up federal non-defense spending on AI R&D to at least $32 billion per year. This matches the level proposed in 2021 by the National Security Commission on AI, which estimated that federal agencies spent about $1 billion on such R&D in fiscal year 2020 and proposed that Congress double that figure each year over five years. Beyond funding a cross-government AI R&D initiative, the blueprint proposes that some of the money go to broader priorities such as implementing the CHIPS and Science Act and addressing the large backlog of infrastructure maintenance at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Schumer said he expects various committees will soon advance legislation focused on AI. “We need our committees to continue the bipartisan momentum of the AI Gang, to achieve the hope of passing legislation by the end of the year. We don’t expect every piece of AI to be addressed, every problem that’s in our roadmap to be addressed. Some will lend themselves to move more quickly than others, and we’re not going to hold back on some that are ready because others are not yet ready,” he said.

Lawmakers Question Optics Society for Using Anonymous Donations from Huawei

The House Science Committee is questioning Optica, a professional society focused on optical science, for agreeing to let the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei anonymously finance a prize competition that supports early-career researchers. Committee leaders sent a letter to Optica CEO Liz Rogan last week probing the society’s decision to not disclose the company’s involvement in the competition to the public or to applicants, citing a May 2 article published by Bloomberg that revealed the arrangement. The annual competition was launched in 2022 by the society’s charitable arm, the Optica Foundation, and provides $100,000 in seed funding to ten early-career professionals who are using optical sciences to address global challenges related to the environment, health, and telecommunications. Science Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) argue in the letter that Optica’s conduct is troubling given that the U.S. government has banned the sale of Huawei products on national security grounds and has restricted exports to the company. They also argue that the non-disclosure of Huawei’s involvement compromised the ability of U.S. awardees to comply with a recent law mandating that federal grantees must disclose foreign sources of support for their research.

Rogan defended the arrangement in a statement excerpted by Bloomberg, saying that it is not unusual for donors to want to remain anonymous, and a Huawei spokesperson told Bloomberg the company wanted its involvement to be private to avoid the competition being perceived as promotional. Rogan also noted the arrangement was reviewed by outside legal counsel and that Huawei is publicly identified as a donor in the foundation’s annual report. An export controls expert contacted by Bloomberg noted the government’s current restrictions on Huawei likely do not apply to the competition because Huawei did not receive any special access to the research results in exchange for the donation. Asked by FYI for clarification on her statement to Bloomberg, Rogan noted that she also told the publication that text in the arrangement with Huawei concerning confidentiality and the option to remain anonymous is “standard boiler plate language used in our contracts.” Asked for comment on the committee letter, Rogan stated, “We are collecting all the requested information and supporting materials and will respond to the congressional inquiry in a timely fashion.” (Optica is an AIP Member Society and Rogan is on AIP’s Board of Directors.)

NSF Introduces Grad Mentoring Requirement

Effective May 20, institutions applying for funding from the National Science Foundation are required to have detailed policies for graduate student mentorship. Applications must also include plans for training graduate students and principal investigators are required to include and update annually an individualized mentorship plan for all graduate and postdoctoral students involved in NSF-funded grants. “The old days of ‘look to the left look to the right, one of the three of you won’t be here when graduation comes around’ — those days are gone,” said Sylvia Butterfield, deputy assistant director of NSF’s STEM Education Directorate, at a webinar last month about the new requirements. “Future STEM talent is a valuable national resource and we cannot squander the opportunity to prepare that talent to persist in STEM,” she said.

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, May 20

Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty: Forty-sixth Antarctic Treaty consultative meeting
(continues through May 30)

Directed Energy Professional Society: Annual Directed Energy Science and Technology Symposium
(continues through Friday)

IAEA: International Conference on Nuclear Security
(continues through Friday)

National Academies: Inventorship, entrepreneurship, and systems for nurturing Black people in applied and translation fields: A workshop
(continues Tuesday)

National Academies: Committee on Atomic, Molecular and Optical Sciences spring meeting
(continues Tuesday)

National Academies: Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Sciences, New Frontiers mission list review, meeting three
10:00 am - 12:30 pm

ANS: Past DOE nuclear energy officials roundtable
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Hudson Institute: Strategic synergies: India-US technology cooperation
11:00 am - 1:00 pm

National Academies: Public infrastructure for effective climate mitigation and adaptation: A workshop
1:00 - 3:30 pm

National Academies: Continued efforts to improve pathways to undergraduate STEM degrees
1:00 - 4:45 pm

RAND: Climate change and critical infrastructure
2:30 pm

National Academies: Perspectives of international graduate students and postdoctoral scholars studying in the US: Mindsets, values, and obstacles session 1
3:00 - 4:30 pm

Tuesday, May 21

NSF: 2025-2035 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences for NSF, meeting five
(continues Wednesday)

DOE: Carbon Dioxide Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration Permitting Task Force meeting
(continues Wednesday)

NOAA: Ocean Research Advisory Panel meeting
(continues Wednesday)

Johns Hopkins: Launch event for the Center for Ethics, Law, Policy, and the Life Sciences
8:45 am - 6:15 pm

Senate: DOD space programs request hearing
9:30 am, Armed Services Committee

NASA: NASA Science Mission Directorate town hall for planetary research programs
1:00 pm

National Academies: Lived experiences and reflections by graduate students on the realities of graduate student education: Personal motivations and challenges of unionization
2:00 - 3:30 pm

Wednesday, May 22

ARPA-E: Energy Innovation Summit
(continues through Friday)

Federal Demonstration Partnership: May meeting
(continues through Friday)

DOD: Defense Science Board meeting
(continues Thursday)

House: Meeting to advance legislation to prevent foreign adversaries from exploiting US AI and other enabling technologies
9:00 am, Foreign Affairs Committee

Senate: DOE budget request hearing
10:00 am, Appropriations Committee

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

House: Meeting to advance the FY25 National Defense Authorization Act
10:00 am, Armed Services Committee

House: Advancing innovation (AI): Harnessing artificial intelligence to defend and secure the homeland
10:00 am, Homeland Security Committee

CHORUS: Navigating the future of persistent identifiers in scholarly publishing: Challenges, risks, and opportunities
11:00 am - 12:30 pm

PCAST: President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology meeting
1:00 - 3:00 pm

National Academies: AI + sustainable chemistry
1:30 - 3:00 pm

House: USGS budget request hearing
2:00 pm, Natural Resources Committee

House: Hearing with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Senior Scientific Advisor David Morens
2:00 pm, Oversight Committee

National Academies: Science diplomacy and technology diplomacy trainings for diplomats
3:00 - 5:00 pm

Senate: NNSA budget request hearing
4:45 pm, Armed Services Committee

Thursday, May 23

Baker Institute: Workshop on responsible collaboration through appropriate research security
(continues Friday)

House: Oversight of DOE
9:00 am, Oversight Committee

US-China Commission: Key economic strategies for leveling the US-China playing field: Trade, investment, and technology
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Commerce Department: Emerging Technology Technical Advisory Committee meeting
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Senate: NASA and NSF budget request hearing
9:30 am, Appropriations Committee

House: Meeting to approve interim subcommittee budget allocations
10:00 am, Appropriations Committee

Senate: NIH budget request hearing
10:00 am, Appropriations Committee

House: Calling for accountability: Stopping antisemitic college chaos
10:15 am, Education and Workforce Committee

National Academies: Committee on Law and Justice spring meeting
10:30 am - 5:15 pm

DHS: National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee meeting
1:00 - 4:30 pm

FASEB: Managing research data across multiple data repositories
1:00 pm

Friday, May 24

No events.

Monday, May 27

Memorial Day.

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

AAS: Deputy director of public policy (May 24)
◆ODNI: Science and technology officer (May 27)
Office of Naval Research: Division director, directed energy (May 28)
◆NSF: Executive officer, Office of Polar Programs (May 29)
DOE: Associate director, Office of Basic Energy Sciences (May 30)
NSF: Program director, particle astrophysics (May 30)
COGR: Director for costing and financial compliance (May 31)
◆Navy: Superintendent, Optical Sciences Division (May 31)
AAAS: Program associate for science policy and mass media fellowships (June 2)
◆DOE: Director, Advanced Computing Technology Division (June 17)
NSF: Division director, Division of Astronomical Sciences (June 24)
AAS: Public policy fellowship (July 1)

Solicitations

NOAA: Advisory Committee on Excellence in Space call for nominations (May 29)
NIST: Request for comments on draft documents relating to AI executive order (June 2)
NOAA: Public comment on the draft prospectus of the Sixth National Climate Assessment (June 7)
USGS: Scientific Earthquake Studies Advisory Committee call for new members (June 7)
DOE: RFI on clean energy supply chains (June 10)
NSF: Request for public comment on draft Arctic research plan (June 10)
◆NSF: RFI on transport aircraft in support of NSF operations in Antarctica and Greenland (June 14)
◆USGS: Advisory Committee for Science Quality and Integrity call for nominations (June 17)
PCAST: RFI on groundwater challenges (July 1)
◆Federation of American Scientists: Call for ideas on science-based policy innovations (July 15)
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

E&E News: Biden retools Clinton-era Antarctica policy
White House: New actions to ensure environmental protections of the Antarctic region
OSTP: Advancing research capacity at high research activity HBCUs (report)
OSTP: Federal policies and practices to support STEM researchers with caregiving responsibilities (report)
OSTP: Best practices for reducing organizational, cultural, and institutional barriers in STEM research (report)
OSTP: Applying social and behavioral science to federal policies and programs to deliver better outcomes (report)
White House: Critical steps to protect workers from risks of AI
White House: Statement on US-PRC talks on AI risk and safety

Congress

Wall Street Journal: Chuck Schumer has found a new excuse to spend $32 billion a year, and some Republicans are going along for the ride (editorial)
E&E News: House releases NDAA with energy, environment riders
E&E News: Nevada senators promote Yucca repeal, float other uses
House Science Committee: Republicans press CEQ on withholding documents from committee investigation
Senate Environment Committee: Republicans press State Department for clarity on climate policy leadership structure

Science, Society, and the Economy

Wall Street Journal: Colorado and Illinois set their sights on becoming the nation’s quantum hub
Science: Researchers reflect on the death of billionaire science donor Jim Simons and his charitable impact
APS: Physicists have long written op-eds. You can too (perspective by Aara’L Yarber)

Education and Workforce

Bloomberg Law: AI order spurs call for more access to easier green card process
Science: LGBTQ PhD graduates will soon be counted in key US survey
NSF: NSF launches trainee track to help prepare graduate students to enter STEM careers
Amnesty International: ‘On my campus, I am afraid’ - China’s targeting of overseas students stifles rights (report)

Research Management

MIT Tech Review: A wave of retractions is shaking physics
APS: Chief editor behind the world’s most-cited physics journal aims for expansion (interview with Robert Garisto)
Society for Scholarly Publishing: MIT Press releases Direct to Open impact report
APLU: APLU President Becker to depart association at end of year
Science: Federal officials suspend funding to EcoHealth Alliance, nonprofit entangled in COVID-19 origin debate

Labs and Facilities

NSF: NSF planning major infrastructure overhaul to support future research in South Pole
NSF: NSF announces pilot phase and anticipated opening date of Arecibo education center
PPPL: PPPL looks to the future as it breaks ground on the Princeton Plasma Innovation Center
Argonne National Lab: New test facility to support decarbonization of heavy-duty transportation
Los Alamos National Lab: J. Patrick Fitch selected as deputy laboratory director for science, technology, and engineering
Issues in Science and Technology: Engineering on shaky ground: Lessons from Mexico (perspective by Elizabeth Reddy)

Computing and Communications

Argonne National Lab: Argonne’s Aurora supercomputer breaks exascale barrier
Science: Limits on access to DeepMind’s new protein program trigger backlash
RAND: Examining the landscape of tools for trustworthy AI in the UK and the US (report)
Nature: Why mathematics is set to be revolutionized by AI (perspective by Thomas Fink)

Space

NASA: Lori Glaze to begin six-month detail as acting deputy associate administrator for ESDMD
NASA: NASA, European Space Agency unite to land Europe’s rover on Mars
NPR: Private mission to save the Hubble Space Telescope raises concerns, NASA emails show
SpaceNews: India plans Chandrayaan-4 moon sample return, will involve private sector
DARPA: Catalyzing an integrated lunar economy: Initial results of the LunA-10 capability study
New York Times: 63 years later, first Black man trained as astronaut goes to space
NASA: Artemis accords reach 40 signatories as NASA welcomes Lithuania

Weather, Climate, and Environment

New York Times: Alarmed by climate change, astronomers train their sights on earth
SpaceNews: NASA selects proposals for new line of Earth science missions
Inside Climate News: Bill discounting climate change in Florida’s energy policy awaits Governor Desantis’ approval
Eos: Orienting global change science so that it informs national security issues will help us develop interventions that promote social stability and ecological well-being (perspective by Benjamin Preston, et al.)
Scientific American: The strongest solar storm in 20 years did little damage, but worse space weather is coming
NOAA: NOAA allocates $30 million to improve tsunami ocean-observing system

Energy

NETL: DOE issues notice of intent to fund test centers to advance carbon capture, removal, and conversion technologies
DOE: DOE announces $71 million to advance American solar manufacturing and development
American Nuclear Society: How robust is HALEU from a nonproliferation perspective?

Defense

New York Times: New Star Wars plan: Pentagon rushes to counter threats in orbit
DefenseNews: House defense bill retains spending caps, creates DOD talent officer
NNSA: NNSA completes subcritical experiment at PULSE facility in Nevada
Scientific American: Nuclear weapons at any price? Congress should say no (perspective by Sharon Weiner)
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Formal risk assessments and nuclear arms control: Exploring the value of modern methodologies (perspective by Vicki Bier, et al.)

Biomedical

Nature: Could bird flu in cows lead to a human outbreak? Slow response worries scientists
New York Times: Farm animals are hauled all over the country. So are their pathogens
NIH: Updating NIH minority health and health disparities categories to improve accuracy and transparency
NIH: FDA-NIH want your input on a new resource for terminology in clinical research
Engineering Biology Research Consortium: Engineering biology metrics and technical standards for the global bioeconomy (report)

International Affairs

Los Alamos National Lab: Accelerating americium production to reduce foreign dependence
Nature: A DARPA-like agency could boost EU innovation - but cannot come at the expense of existing schemes (editorial)
Science|Business: Calls to scrap EIT mount as Fraunhofer slams the EU technology institute
Export Compliance Daily: Swiss universities defend against Iran-related research allegations
Science: Spending cuts imperil Argentina’s ambitious nuclear research programs

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