FYI: Science Policy News
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WEEK OF MAY 27, 2024
What’s Ahead

Oak Ridge Summit Supercomputer

The Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab.

(Carlos Jones / ORNL)

DOE Supercomputing Facility Priorities Up for Discussion

Advisors to supercomputing programs at the Department of Energy will meet Wednesday to consider approving a draft report recommending priorities for future facilities, the latest in a series of such reports produced by advisory committees for DOE’s Office of Science. The office charged the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee with assessing prospective upgrades to supercomputers and data transmission networks, and ASCAC’s draft report categorizes all of them as “absolutely central” to enabling world-class science, the highest level of importance in the rubric provided by DOE. The report also states that these facilities should be viewed as an “ecosystem” that serves as the “de facto high-end national computing infrastructure” for many U.S. research agencies.

The report finds that construction is ready to begin for upgrades to supercomputers at Argonne, Oak Ridge, and Berkeley National Labs as well as the Energy Sciences Network, a data transmission service for the national lab system. Follow-on upgrades to each of these four facilities have “significant science and engineering challenges to resolve before construction,” the report adds, as does the prospective High Performance Data Facility hosted at Jefferson Lab.

Also on the agenda for this week’s meeting is DOE’s new AI research initiative, called the Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence for Science, Security, and Technology (FASST), and the completion of the Exascale Computing Project.

Plans for Flagship CHIPS R&D Center Coming into Focus

The operator of the planned National Semiconductor Technology Center will hold a webinar Friday to discuss the roadmap it released last week outlining the next steps for establishing the center, which will spend more than $5 billion on semiconductor R&D and workforce development. The roadmap states that this summer the NSTC will launch a Workforce Center of Excellence and two initial R&D funding opportunities, and it will announce the process for selecting facilities that will be a part of the NSTC. This fall, the NSTC will begin accepting applications for organizations to become members of the center. The roadmap does not set a timeline for selecting a location for the NSTC headquarters. Separately last week, the Semiconductor Industry Association released recommendations on how to structure the NSTC.

Who Does S&T Policy? New Survey Seeks Insights

The magazine Issues in Science and Technology has launched a survey to better understand who counts themselves as part of the community of people who engage in science and technology policy. The magazine notes that in 1968 the journalist Daniel Greenberg estimated the number of people involved in science policy to be somewhere between 200 and 1,000, referring to a passage in his book, The Politics of Pure Science. “By taking this survey, you’re helping the science and tech policy community define itself and its goals,” the magazine states.

Also on Our Radar

  • The State Department is seeking space experts from the private sector to advise the U.S. delegation to the upcoming meeting of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. The department notes the event will include a meeting of the “Group of Friends of the Dark and Quiet Sky for Science and Society,” a set of countries that seek to mitigate the effects of satellite constellations on astronomy.
  • With the GOES-U weather satellite set to launch on June 25, officials from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will hold a briefing Wednesday to preview its capabilities in both terrestrial and space weather monitoring.
In Case You Missed It

nsf-mcmurdo.jpg

McMurdo station in Antarctica.

(NSF)

US Reaffirms Antarctic Policy

The White House released a new Antarctic policy on May 17 that reaffirms U.S. support for keeping the continent as a zone for research and environmental conservation. The policy largely retains the four major goals outlined in the 1994 document it replaces. The goals set in the new policy are:

  • “Protect the relatively unspoiled environment of the Antarctic Region and its associated ecosystems;
  • Preserve and pursue unique opportunities for scientific research and understand Antarctica’s relationship to global environmental change;
  • Maintain the Antarctic Region as an area of international cooperation reserved exclusively for peaceful purposes; and
  • Assure the protection and conservation of the living resources in and ecosystems of the Antarctic Region.”

A spokesperson for the National Science Foundation told FYI that the new policy “does not change” NSF’s role in leading the U.S. presence in Antarctica. The biggest update, they said, is that the policy “acknowledges the impact of climate and other global changes on the Antarctic continent, which raises new scientific questions and elevates the importance of monitoring and understanding the changes in Antarctic glaciers, waters, and ecosystems.” In announcing the update, the White House also stated it would “work with Congress to continue its support of our three world-class, year-round scientific research stations; research in the Antarctic Region on ocean ecosystems and Antarctic marine living resources; and modernization of the nation’s polar icebreaker fleet.”

NIST Director Testifies on Budget Challenges

Budget strains facing the National Institute of Standards and Technology were the focus of a House Science Committee hearing last week. NIST Director Laurie Locascio said that in the wake of the reduced budget it received from Congress for fiscal year 2024 the agency had to freeze hiring, reduce its number of students and postdocs, and pare back some programs. Locascio highlighted how the president’s 2025 budget request for NIST proposes to surge funding for priority areas such as informing standards for artificial intelligence and addressing the agency’s large backlog of facilities maintenance. Aging and decaying research facilities have emerged as major issues across federal research agencies, but the situation at NIST has received particular attention following reports calling out major problems at its labs and offices.

Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) applauded NIST’s work on AI in his opening statement but expressed concerns that the agency is being overburdened. “While mighty, NIST is a small agency, and its resources are spread exceptionally thin. I am concerned that some of these additional responsibilities may end up taking focus away from core NIST programs,” he said. Committee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) emphasized the maintenance backlog in her opening statement. “Congress has not funded any real solutions to that problem. Now, the infrastructure issues are coming to a head, decreasing the effectiveness of the agency, damaging staff morale, and in some cases, putting those staff in real danger,” she said.

White House Offers Strategies for STEM Workforce Equity

The White House published a trio of reports this month that explore diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies for the STEM workforce. The first report makes suggestions for agencies to better support STEM researchers with caregiving responsibilities, such as by providing additional gap funding and grant flexibilities to caregivers and by rewarding institutions that support these researchers well. The second includes strategies for reducing organizational, cultural, and institutional barriers in STEM research. It offers advice for institutions and federal agencies on how to conduct workplace climate surveys and design comprehensive DEI training programs for leaders and staff. The third discusses barriers and strategies to build research capacity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Among its recommendations are that federal agencies increase training opportunities to help staff and researchers at HBCUs better navigate the federal grant process.

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 27

Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 28

Brookings: Sanctions on Russia: What’s working? What’s not?
10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Federal Lab Consortium: Lab showcase: Meet the NIST Office of Advanced Manufacturing
2:00 - 3:00 pm

Wednesday, May 29

Society for Scholarly Publishing: Inflection Point: Setting the Course for the Future of Scholarly Communication
(continues through Friday)

EPA: Science Advisory Board Radionuclide Cancer Risk Coefficients Review Panel meetings
(continues through Friday)

National Academies: Committee on Radio Frequencies spring meeting
(continues Thursday)

NSF: STEM Education Advisory Committee spring meeting
(continues Thursday)

National Academies: Research and Application in Team Science Committee, meeting three
(continues Thursday)

National Academies: Public infrastructure for effective climate mitigation and adaptation, workshop day two
10:00 am - 12:30 pm

DOE: Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee meeting
10:00 am - 5:00 pm

NOAA/NASA: Preview of GOES-U satellite launch
11:00 am

Thursday, May 30

National Academies: Board on Life Sciences spring meeting
(continues through Monday)

National Academies: Optimizing federal, state, and local response to public health emergencies: A workshop
(continues Friday)

National Academies: Army science and technology roundtable
(continues Friday)

National Academies: Artificial intelligence in education and mental health for a sustainable future: A workshop
9:00 am - 4:30 pm

BIS: Materials and Equipment Technical Advisory Committee meeting
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Hudson Institute: Leading in the cyber competition with China
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

National Academies: Trust in science: Understanding the trends and implications for science communication
2:00 - 3:30 pm

Friday, May 31

NIST: Update on the National Semiconductor Technology Center
12:00 - 1:00 pm

National Academies: Climate conversations: Community-driven relocation
12:30 - 1:45 pm

Atlantic Council: Hurricane readiness: Building climate resilience in the Caribbean
1:30 - 2:30 pm

National Science Policy Network: Science Diplomacy Roadshow - San Francisco
3:00 - 5:00 pm PT

Sunday, June 2

American Meteorological Society: Summer policy colloquium
(continues through Friday)

Monday, June 3

NSF: NSF Grants Conference
(continues through Wednesday)

House: A hearing with Dr. Anthony Fauci
10:00 am, Oversight Committee

Atlantic Council: US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the future for US-EU trade
1:00 pm

DHS: Homeland Security Academic Partnership Council meeting
2:00 - 3:30 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

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: Deputy assistant secretary for renewable energy (June 6)
DOE: Director, Advanced Computing Technology Division (June 17)
NSF: Division director, Division of Astronomical Sciences (June 24)
AAS: Public policy fellowship (July 1)
◆NSF: Division director for Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (July 9)

Solicitations

◆Issues in S&T: Survey on who does science and technology policy (ongoing)
◆State Department: Seeking private sector advisors for the US delegation to the 67th session of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (May 28)
NIST: RFI on draft documents relating to AI executive order (June 2)
NOAA: RFI on 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: RFI on draft Arctic research plan (June 10)
NSF: RFI on aircraft in support of NSF operations in Antarctica and Greenland (June 14)
◆NSF: Request for comment on draft South Pole Station Master Plan (June 17)
◆FCC: RFI on mitigation of orbital debris in the new space age (June 27)
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)
◆NOAA: RFI on the NOAA Space Weather Scales (July 31)

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: How Biden would address climate change in a second term
Politico: The White House has told NIH to safeguard its work from political interference
Issues in Science and Technology: Interview with OSTP official Kei Koizumi (audio)
White House: Readout of meetings on the US-UK Atlantic Declaration

Congress

Council on Competitiveness: More than 40 college and university leaders urge Congress to fulfill commitment to fund ‘science’ in CHIPS and Science Act
House Energy and Commerce Committee: Republicans press HHS on preventing civil rights violations at universities receiving NIH grants
Senate HELP Committee: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on NIH proposal to lower prices for taxpayer-funded drugs
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS): Senators introduce legislation to boost AI education

Science, Society, and the Economy

NSF: New report shows that business R&D funding dominates the US R&D enterprise
Nature: Tackling ‘wicked’ problems calls for engineers with social responsibility (perspective by Susan Krumdieck)
NIST: One of NIST’s most prolific inventors, Laurie Locascio, is also our director — and she’s still an inventor at heart

Education and Workforce

NSF: Launch update on the USAP sexual assault and harassment climate survey
Nature: Researcher parents are paying a high price for conference travel — here’s how to fix it (perspective by Laura Carter, et al.)

Research Management

NSF: R&D: US trends and international comparisons (report)
Issues in Science and Technology: A new model to help hardware startups scale (perspective by John Burer)
PNAS: Protecting scientific integrity in an age of generative AI (perspective by Wolfgang Blau, et al.)
National Academies: Promoting equitable and inclusive implementation of open scholarship policies (report)
New York Magazine: Why scientific fraud is suddenly everywhere
Science|Business: Central and Eastern Europe bites back at predatory publishers
Native Science Report: NSF sets higher bar for research proposals affecting tribes
Research Evaluation: The practicalities of a partial lottery to allocate research funding (paper by Martijn van der Meer, et al.)

Labs and Facilities

Science: NSF wrestles with a dilemma over dueling giant telescopes
Scientific American: Cutting-edge cosmic microwave background observatory hits South Pole stumbling block
SLAC: LSST Camera arrives at Rubin Observatory in Chile, paving the way for cosmic exploration
CERN: CERN and the US sign joint statement of intent
Research Professional: Germany says it can’t fund planned CERN particle accelerator
Idaho National Lab: Idaho National Lab selects new deputy laboratory director, chief research officer
Science|Business: ITER drives to share knowhow with private sector

Computing and Communications

Politico: ‘I don’t know how this happened’: A $3 billion secret CHIPS program undermining Biden’s tech policy
Financial Times: China raises $47bn for chip industry in drive for self-sufficiency
NSF: NSF partners with Micron and GlobalFoundries to invest in semiconductor workforce development at minority-serving institutions
Research Professional: UK to launch national semiconductor institute
Politico: The coming war between DC and Silicon Valley over AI
OPM: OPM highlights key actions supporting AI talent surge to recruit and hire AI professionals
Commerce Department: Commerce secretary releases strategic vision on AI safety, announces plan for global cooperation among AI safety institutes
DARPA: Taking a deeper dive into ELSI implications of new technologies and capabilities (audio)
National Academies: AI at the nexus of collaboration, competition, and change (report)
City Journal: Foundational innovation in cloud technology and AI will require more energy than ever before — shattering any illusion that we will restrict supplies (perspective by Mark Mills)

Space

The Atlantic: Scientists are very worried about NASA’s Mars plan
Scientific American: Europe’s Mars rover will use new nuclear power source
Science: South Korea launches its own NASA
NASA: NASA’s heliophysics experiment to study the sun on European mission
SpaceNews: Chinese firm files plans for 10,000-satellite constellation
Reuters: Amazon to deorbit pair of prototype satellites, calling tests successful
New York Times: Elon Musk dominates space launch. Rivals are calling foul
Science|Business: Luxembourg has its eyes on extraterrestrial resources
Wall Street Journal: Humanity shouldn’t be afraid to say hello to aliens (perspective by John Tierney)

Weather, Climate, and Environment

USGCRP: US Global Change Research Program welcomes Ariela Zycherman as director of the sixth National Climate Assessment
GAO: Opportunities exist to improve DOE’s management of risks to carbon capture projects (report)
New York Times: A test of cloud-brightening machines poses no health risk, officials say
NASA: NASA selects BAE Systems to develop ocean color instrument for NOAA
The New Yorker: How 3M discovered, then concealed, the dangers of forever chemicals
National Academies: Building capacity for the US mineral resources workforce: Proceedings of a workshop (report)

Energy

E&E News: Nuclear bill stumbles in the face of Democratic opposition
DOE: Instructions for requesting a waiver for the import of Russian low-enriched uranium into the US
E&E News: Democrats refer Big Oil investigation to Justice Department

Defense

Reuters: US assesses Russia launched space weapon in path of American satellite
Breaking Defense: Is Russia’s Cosmos 2553 satellite a test for a future orbital nuclear weapon?
DOE: National statement at 2024 IAEA international conference on nuclear security
DOE: US and European Commission make joint statement on enhancing radioactive source security
GAO: Nuclear nonproliferation: Efforts are underway to address factors affecting IAEA’s safeguards program (report)
Union of Concerned Scientists: Downwinders reject half baked Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
New York Times: The victims of US nuclear testing deserve more than this (perspective by W.J. Hennigan)
DOD: Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratory Personnel demonstration project program

Biomedical

Science: Hundreds of cancer papers mention cell lines that don’t seem to exist
Politico: WHO pandemic talks end without a deal, governments to decide next steps
Stat: The world needs the new pandemic treaty (perspective by Alexandra Phelan and Lawrence Gostin)
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Scientists weigh in on the challenges and opportunities of high-risk pathogen research around the world
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: False Russian claims hijacked the biological weapons treaty. Here’s how to reclaim it (perspective by Eva Siegmann)
GAO: Virus field research: Policy options to help reduce risks and enhance benefits (report)

International Affairs

State Department: Proposed establishment of federally funded research and development centers
Quantum.gov: The US and Germany sign joint statement to enhance cooperation in quantum
State Department: First meeting of the US-Switzerland joint committee meeting on S&T cooperation
South China Morning Post: Why did Russian President Vladimir Putin visit a Chinese university under US sanctions?
Caixin Global: Geopolitical clashes entangle China’s science grad students
Research Professional: German research ministry seeks better understanding of China
Science|Business: Academic boycotts over Gaza war jeopardize Israel’s place in Horizon Europe
Research Professional: Nordic universities under pressure over Gaza conflict
Science: New Dutch right-wing coalition to cut research, innovation, and environmental protections
Science|Business: Naval and space technology dominate the first three years of the European Defence Fund
Nature: ‘Stop the xenophobia’ — South African researchers sound alarm on eve of election
Research Professional: Report calls for big changes to Australian Antarctic research

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