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WEEK OF JAN 22, 2024
What’s Ahead

Hoover Tower

The tower of the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University.

(Kirby Lee via AP)

Research Security Roundtable Convenes at Hoover Institution

The National Science, Technology, and Security Roundtable will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank that has a focus on research security and U.S.–China relations. After introductory remarks from institute director Condoleezza Rice, who was secretary of state under President George W. Bush, a panel of representatives from federal science agencies will offer their perspectives on recent research security initiatives. FBI Special Agent Nicholas Shenkin will also participate in a session titled, “Enhancing Collaboration in Science and Security.” Other sessions will address research security policy at the University of California, perspectives from university researchers across the Pacific region, and security considerations specific to biotechnology, computer science, and aerospace. Los Alamos National Lab Director Thom Mason, a member of the roundtable, will also deliver a speech on research security at the Hoover Institution on Monday before the roundtable convenes.

With US Back in UNESCO, Senate to Review Nominee for US Rep

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on the nomination of Courtney O’Donnell to be the U.S. representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. O’Donnell has worked as an aide to Vice President Kamala Harris and First Lady Jill Biden and was director of global partnerships at Airbnb. The U.S. recently rejoined UNESCO after a five-year absence. The Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from UNESCO in 2017, arguing that the group was biased against Israel. The U.S. stopped paying dues to UNESCO after it granted membership to Palestine in 2011, and the outstanding dues now exceed $600 million. The Biden administration has requested Congress allocate $150 million to resume U.S. contributions in fiscal year 2024.

Biden Officials to Explain STEM Visa Policy Moves

The CHIPS for America Program Office will host a one-hour briefing Tuesday on efforts by the Biden administration to expand immigration pathways for STEM students and researchers. Speakers will include officials from the White House, State Department, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A focus of the briefing will be President Joe Biden’s recent executive order on artificial intelligence, which directs agencies to use existing authorities to make it easier for experts in “critical and emerging technologies” to study or work in the U.S.

Meteorologists Meet in Baltimore for AMS Meeting

The American Meteorological Society will begin its 104th annual meeting this weekend in Baltimore, Maryland. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Living in a Changing Environment,” with sessions covering topics such as modeling methods for climate uncertainty and lessons learned from the Fifth National Climate Assessment, which was published in late 2023. On Sunday, the AMS Presidential Forum will consist of a discussion on the barriers limiting the reach and impact of climate science with MIT professor Kerry Emanuel, environmental diplomat Monica Medina, and former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), now director of RepublicEn, a group that advocates for confronting climate change in a way that is consistent with conservative principles. On Thursday next week, Jane Lubchenco, a top climate official in the White House, will discuss the Fifth National Climate Assessment and the Biden administration’s climate research priorities, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Rick Spinrad will participate in a discussion on combating climate disinformation through education and communication. (AMS is an AIP Member Society.)

In Case You Missed It

Artemis II Service Module.jpg

The service module for Artemis II, a mission that will fly four astronauts around the Moon before returning to Earth. In January, NASA delayed the mission’s launch date to no earlier than September 2025.

(NASA)

Science Committee Backs Artemis Despite Delays

The House Science Committee held a hearing last week to examine NASA’s recent decision to delay the next two launches in its Artemis program to return humans to the Moon’s surface. Committee members from both parties accepted the rationale for delaying the missions but were critical of NASA’s budgeting practices and sought greater clarity on its plans. Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) also noted he intends to advance legislation this spring to comprehensively update NASA policy, which he said would be the first major update in seven years, if enacted. Witnesses for the hearing warned that there may be further delays to the program. Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin was blunt in his criticism of Artemis, stating it is “excessively complex” and “unrealistically priced,” as well as “highly unlikely to be completed in a timely manner even if successful.” Citing the importance of the U.S. having a presence on the Moon, Griffin said it was “unacceptable” for the U.S. to fall behind China and called for a complete reworking of the Artemis program, rather than increased efforts to keep the existing program on track. Various committee members noted the ambitions of the Chinese space program, with Lucas pointing out that the country is actively seeking international partners for its own lunar research station.

Federal Funding Extended to March

President Biden signed stopgap legislation last week that funds federal agencies at current levels until the first week of March, buying time to finalize appropriations for fiscal year 2024. The Senate approved the legislation on a 77-18 vote and the House followed suit on a 314-108 vote, with all but two of the no votes from Republicans. Though congressional leaders have agreed to topline spending limits for defense and non-defense programs, appropriators have yet to announce how these funds will be allocated across the 12 bills that together fund the government. House Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) also stated last week that Republicans are committed to “fighting for meaningful policy changes” to be incorporated into the legislation, while Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) stated the legislation should exclude any “partisan poison pills.”

Republicans Launch Research Security Probe into Former UCLA Scientist

Republican leaders of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party and the House Energy and Commerce Committee have launched an inquiry into why the federal government awarded millions of dollars in research grants to projects led by Song-Chun Zhu, an artificial intelligence scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles who joined a Chinese talent recruitment program in 2010 and moved to China in 2020. Citing a 2023 article by Newsweek, the lawmakers state that Zhu’s projects received more than $30 million in federal grant funding during his career, of which $1.2 million was awarded by the Department of Defense after he moved to China. In letters to UCLA, DOD, and the National Science Foundation, the lawmakers asked for extensive information regarding Zhu’s research and grant awards, organizational conflict of interest and oversight policies, and details on any researchers affiliated with UCLA or in receipt of NSF or DOD funding who currently reside in China or have ties with the CCP. In statements to Newsweek, NSF indicated it became aware of risks associated with Zhu’s foreign affiliations “near the end range” of his funding. DOD noted that the grants in question involved many researchers and pointed to the benefits of international collaboration in research. Congressional concerns surrounding participation in Chinese talent recruitment programs began to build in 2019, and last year’s CHIPS and Science Act will bar agencies from awarding funding to participants in “malign” recruitment programs starting in August this year.

NNSA Grades Lab Performance for Fiscal Year 2023

Last week, the National Nuclear Security Administration published summaries of its annual performance evaluations for the contractors that manage NNSA facilities, including Los Alamos National Lab, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, and Sandia National Labs. The lab contractors received overall ratings of 89%, 94%, and 91%, respectively. All three received 100% ratings for their goals focused on “advancing science and technology.” Problems flagged during the reviews largely concern nuclear weapons production and warhead life-extension programs. The full performance evaluation reports are under review by NNSA’s Freedom of Information Act Office, which expects to release them by Feb. 26.

Former NOAA Administrator John Byrne Dead at 95

John Byrne Headshot.jpg

John Byrne led NOAA from 1981 to 1984.

(NOAA)

Oceanographer John Byrne, who led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 1981 to 1984, died on Jan. 11 at the age of 95. As NOAA administrator, he worked to increase the agency’s focus on oceanography while also grappling with pressure from President Ronald Reagan’s White House to tighten budgets. He also drove a major reorganization in 1982 that created the agency’s present structure of line offices. Byrne earned a doctorate in marine geology from the University of Southern California in 1957 and began his career as a geologist in the petroleum industry. He joined the oceanography program at Oregon State University in 1960 and remained there for essentially his entire career, though he served for short stints at the National Science Foundation and U.S. Geological Survey in the late 1960s. At Oregon State, he held a series of leadership positions, including dean of the School of Oceanography and the university’s first dean of research. After Byrne stepped aside as NOAA administrator he became the university’s president, a job he held from 1984 to 1995.

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, January 22

FDP: Federal Demonstration Partnership meeting
(continues through Wednesday)

Hoover Institution: “What is the Role of Future International Collaboration: Risks and Opportunities,” with Los Alamos National Lab Director Thomas Mason
11:00 am - 12:30 pm, PT

ASU CSPO: “Reinventing Participatory Technology Assessment: A Panel Discussion on pTA Innovations with Rising Scholars and Practitioners”
12:00 - 1:30 pm

DOE: 21st Century Energy Workforce Advisory Board meeting
12:30 - 2:00 pm

Research!America: “Challenges to Our Nation’s Technology Transfer System”
12:30 - 1:30 pm

Brookings: “Investing in All of America: The Biden-Harris Administration’s Place-Based Approach”
1:00 - 2:00 pm

American Enterprise Institute: “Navigating the Post–World Radiocommunication Conference Outlook for Wireless Innovation”
2:00 - 3:30 pm

Tuesday, January 23

National Academies: National Science, Technology, and Security Roundtable, Pacific regional meeting
(continues Wednesday)

National Academies: “Global Microelectronics: Models for the Department of Defense in Semiconductor Public-Private Partnerships”
(continues Wednesday)

National Academies: “Building Capacity to Meet Current and Future Challenges and Needs Facing the U.S. Mineral Resources Workforce: A Workshop”
(continues Wednesday)

National Academies: “K-12 STEM Education and Workforce Development in Rural Areas,” meeting two
(continues Wednesday)

World Resources Institute: “Stories to Watch 2024”
9:00 - 10:15 am

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: 2024 Doomsday Clock Announcement
10:00 am

NIST: “Global STEM Talent Pathways for Semiconductors, AI, and Emerging Technologies”
12:00 - 1:00 pm

Issues in Science and Technology: “How Can Taxpayer-Funded Science Yield Drugs That Are Innovative and Affordable?”
1:00 - 2:00 pm

NDIA: “Directed Energy Weapon Supply Chains Report Launch”
1:00 - 3:15 pm

Senate: “The Patent Eligibility Restoration Act – Restoring Clarity, Certainty, and Predictability to the U.S. Patent System”
2:30 pm, Judiciary Committee

Senate: “Improving Export Controls Enforcement”
2:45 pm, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

Wednesday, January 24

APS: Annual Leadership Meeting
(continues through Friday)

National Nanotechnology Initiative: Nano4EARTH roundtable on catalysts
9:30 am - 3:30 pm

CSIS: “Global Technology Competition in the Age of AI,” with Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Todd Young (R-IN)
9:30 - 10:30 am

Senate: “Oversight of Toxic Substances Control Act Amendments Implementation”
10:00 am, Environment and Public Works Committee

Senate: “Warming Seas, Cooling Economy: How the Climate Crisis Threatens Ocean Industries”
10:00 am, Budget Committee

NTI: “Global Security in the Age of AI: A Conversation with Eric Schmidt”
12:00 pm

Resources for the Future: “Big Decisions in Climate, Energy, and the Environment in the Year Ahead”
2:00 - 3:30 pm

Senate: “The Use of Artificial Intelligence at the Library of Congress, Government Publishing Office, and Smithsonian Institution”
2:15 pm, Rules Committee

Thursday, January 25

National Academies: “Review of Progress Toward Implementing the Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space,” meeting four
(continues Friday)

CSIS: “U.S. Allies and Global Tech Competition”
9:30 - 10:15 am

FERC: Joint meeting of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and FERC
10:00 - 1:00 pm

Senate: Hearing to review the nomination of Courtney O’Donnell to be US Permanent Representative to the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
10:00 am, Foreign Relations Committee

RAND: “Where Are Americans Reporting UFOs?”
12:00 - 1:00 pm

Hoover Institution: “The Stanford Emerging Tech Review | DC Launch”
4:00 - 5:30 pm

Friday, January 26

No events start today.

Sunday, January 28

American Meteorological Society: 104th annual meeting
(continues through Thursday)

Monday, January 29

National Academies: “Workshop on Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations: Current Context and Challenges”
(continues Tuesday)

National Academies: “Committee to Assess NASA Science Activation 2.0,” meeting two
(continues Tuesday)

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

Around the Web

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

White House

White House: US, Japan, and Republic of Korea launch cutting-edge quantum collaboration
White House: Readout of White House meeting on competition policy and AI
OSTP: Addressing contaminants of emerging concern through coordinated federal research (report)

Congress

Statecraft: How to pass the CHIPS and Science Act (interview with Gerry Petrella)
New York Times: A reporter’s journey into how the US funded the bomb
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE): Democrats introduce carbon dioxide removal legislation
Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI): Bipartisan bill introduced to require government agencies to share code

Science, Society, and the Economy

Issues in Science and Technology: In 11 essays, social scientists and humanities experts explore how to harness the interaction between AI and society
American Enterprise Institute: AEI announces new Center for Technology, Science, and Energy
Science: Time to support Indigenous science (perspective by Robin Wall Kimmerer and Kyle Artelle)
New York Times: What we do to the Moon will transform it forever (perspective by Rebecca Boyle)
Wall Street Journal: These Netflix documentaries are hits. Scientists hate them

Education and Workforce

Chalkbeat: New lawsuit targets program to diversify NY’s college STEM majors
GAO: VA should provide additional information to its staff and schools on the Rogers STEM Scholarship (report)
Tampa Bay Times: Without reforms and shifts, STEM majors will continue to be oversold (perspective by John Skrentny)
Science: Uprooted Ukrainian scientists may never return from their new research homes

Research Management

The Hill: Managing emerging technology at DOE (interview with Helena Fu)
Scholarly Kitchen: Society publishers respond to Plan S ‘Towards Responsible Publishing’ proposal
American Nuclear Society: A more open future for nuclear research
Nature: The open-science movement for sharing laboratory materials gains momentum
Science: Paper mills are bribing editors at scholarly journals, Science investigation finds
Nature: Science’s fake-paper problem: High-profile effort will tackle paper mills
Association of Research Libraries: Institutions selected to pilot development of scalable data-management infrastructure
Emerging Technology Observatory: Profiling research institutions with the Map of Science, part 2: Research across America (report)

Labs and Facilities

Nature: US particle physicists want to build a muon collider — Europe should pitch in (editorial)
Research Professional: UK National Physical Laboratory set to be upgraded with new neutron measurement facility
DOE: DOE cites Stanford University for worker safety and health program violations
DOE: Independent assessment of management of nuclear safety issues at Los Alamos National Lab (report)
Fermilab: PIP-II team successfully transports first cryomodule between UK and Fermilab
Fermilab: UK delegation visits Fermilab to collaborate on quantum network research
Fermilab: Fermilab completes unique set of magnets for accelerator upgrade at Oak Ridge
PPPL: New space for building ultra-powerful magnets launches
NREL: New facility will accelerate lab-scale innovations for scale-up and industry adoption
Physics World: The American reactor that was closed by fake news (perspective by Robert Crease)

Computing and Communications

Wall Street Journal: Taiwan’s TSMC pushes back timeline for second plant at $40 billion Arizona site
EE Times: Urgency felt around finding chip fab construction talent
Washington Post: Biden administration hopes chips will give it an election year boost
DOD: DOD connects with Microelectronics Commons Hubs to accelerate prototyping of advanced microchips
Wall Street Journal: ASML’s monopoly in the world’s most sophisticated chip-making equipment has turned it into both an investor darling and a geopolitical battleground
Washington Post: The Davos elite embraced AI in 2023. Now they fear it
New York Times: AI giant tied to China under scrutiny
New York Times: AI’s latest challenge: The Math Olympics

Space

Nature: Japan’s successful Moon landing was the most precise ever
New York Times: Astrobotic’s Peregrine Moon lander burns up in Earth’s atmosphere
SpaceNews: Japanese Mars mission launch delayed to 2026
NPR: SpaceX launches 4 people for a private mission to the ISS
New York Times: Why astronauts from Italy, Sweden, and Turkey are flying commercial
SpaceNews: NASA report offers pessimistic take on space-based solar power

Weather, Climate, and Environment

E&E News: Supreme Court appears ready to erode Chevron doctrine
DOE: Biden-Harris administration announces more than $104 million to advance net-zero projects at federal facilities
New York Times: New York may soon join a growing number of states seeking to incorporate climate change into school lesson plans
New York Times: The people have a right to climate data (perspective by Justin Mankin)
JPL: More Greenland ice lost than previously estimated
Bloomberg: EU set to seek ambitious goal of 90% emissions cut by 2040
Foreign Affairs: How COP28 demonstrated what’s missing from climate diplomacy (perspective by Jason Bordoff and Meghan O’Sullivan)

Energy

DOE: DOE announces $131 million to boost America’s battery supply chain and supercharge electric vehicle innovation
DOE: DOE announces $34 million to improve the reliability, resiliency, and security of America’s power grid
DOE: DOE announces over $20 million to 32 states and local communities addressing place-based energy needs
American Nuclear Society: 2024: The state of advanced reactors
American Nuclear Society: UK backs advanced reactor future with £300 million for HALEU enrichment
Nature: Pioneering nuclear-fusion reactor shuts down: What scientists will learn
Inside Climate News: What if the clean energy transition costs much less than we’ve been told?
ITIF: A realist approach to hydrogen (perspective by Robin Gaster)

Defense

Breaking Defense: DOD ‘completely rewrites’ classification policy for secret space programs
SpaceNews: New report calls for DOD investments in lunar space infrastructure
Defense Scoop: Navy Secretary Del Toro wants to accelerate funding for directed energy weapons
Breaking Defense: ‘It’s hard': Navy needs to be realistic about laser weapons, admiral says
NNSA: NNSA issues final Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program Environmental Impact Statement
Scientific American: Here’s what I learned as the US government’s UFO hunter (perspective by Sean Kirkpatrick)

Biomedical

Wall Street Journal: Chinese lab mapped deadly coronavirus two weeks before Beijing told the world, documents show
White House: US–UK strategic dialogue on biological security
FAS: Implementing the bioeconomy executive order: Lessons learned and future considerations
Wall Street Journal: Harvard teaching hospital seeks retraction of six papers by top researchers
NPR: If you donate DNA, what should scientists give in return? A ‘pathbreaking’ new model

International Affairs

CERN: New CERNs for a fractured world (perspective by Leonard Lynn and Hal Salzman)
Science|Business: Canada tightens security for university research, affecting ties to China
Times Higher Education: Canada to cut new international student visas by a third
Science|Business: The German Academic Exchange Service has published recommendations for universities when dealing with China
Nature: Scientists fear tough UK immigration rules will deter talent
Science|Business: Horizon Europe: 2023 winners and losers revealed
Research Professional: Australia will strengthen law for ‘high-risk’ applications of artificial intelligence, science minister says

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