Volume 40 (2021)

New House Social Determinants of Health Caucus Seeks Stakeholder Input

A newly formed Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus is seeking the public’s input on challenges and opportunities related to social determinants of health. The bipartisan caucus, which held a launch event on July 21, is co-chaired by Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Tom Cole (R-OK), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). The caucus “will explore opportunities to improve the impact of services delivered to address social determinants with the support of federal funding” and “work to amplify evidence-based approaches to holistic well-being.” The request for information asks stakeholders to respond to a list of questions relating to how to…

NIH Releases 2021-2025 Strategic Plan

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released its agency-wide Strategic Plan for fiscal years (FY) 2021-2025,  a roadmap outlining key objectives and themes for the agency for the next five years. The plan organizes its strategy into three major objectives for the agency: Advancing Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences; Developing, Maintaining, and Renewing Scientific Research Capacity; and Exemplifying and Promoting the Highest Level of Scientific Integrity, Public Accountability, and Social Responsibility in the Conduct of Science. The Strategic Plan also outlines five cross-cutting themes that run through each of the three major objectives and all aspects of the agency’s strategy:…

Biden Nominates ARS Administrator to lead USDA Research

The Biden Administration has announced the nomination of Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young to serve as the Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE). The REE Under Secretary oversees the Department’s science and research activities, including the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Economic Research Service (ERS), and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Dr. Jacobs-Young is currently the Administrator of another REE agency, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and has also been serving as Acting REE Under Secretary. A Senate confirmation hearing has not yet been scheduled.

EHR Director to Take on NSF COO Role

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has named Dr. Karen Marrongelle as its next Chief Operating Office (COO) effective August 2, succeeding F. Fleming Crim, who has served in this role since 2018. Dr. Marrongelle has served as the Assistant Director for the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate since 2018. In a statement accompanying the announcement, NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said, “Karen Marrongelle is a strong and innovative leader with a proven track record of excellence and accomplishments.  I am delighted to have her taking on this important role at an amazing time for NSF.”

AAPOR Releases Report Evaluating 2020 Election Polling

The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) has released a report analyzing the pre-election polls from the 2020 elections titled “Task Force on 2020 Pre-Election Polling: An Evaluation of the 2020 General Election Polls.” The task force consisted of 19 members chosen to ensure diversity of backgrounds and opinions from various organizations, media outlets, and academic institutions. One of the main points covered in the report relates to polling errors that may have stemmed from issues of noncoverage, nonresponse, or statistical adjustments. The report notes that small errors can add up and have large effects on the predictions of…

House Committee Approves FY 2022 Funding Bills

Over the last few weeks, the House Appropriations Committee began considering its annual appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2022, including the bills that fund federal science, research, and data activities. At least on the House side, the FY 2022 bills are in many ways a stark contrast to the spending measures we have seen over the last several years. This is for a few reasons. First, the spending caps that have placed limits on discretionary spending over the last decade expired in FY 2021 and new ones have not yet been set. Second, it is common to see major…

FROM THE ARCHIVES: PCAST Issues STEM Education Report: Social Sciences Not Part of K-12 STEM (September 27, 2010)

In celebration of COSSA’s 40th anniversary, we are diving into the decades of Washington Update archives to share articles from years past that resonate with today’s news. On September 15, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST) released its long-awaited report on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education. Entitled Prepare and Inspire: K‐12 Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) For America’s Future, the report was shepherded through PCAST by co‐chair Eric Lander, head of the Broad Institute and a major geneticist, and S. James Gates, Jr., John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the…

Senate Committee Considers Biden’s Census Pick

On July 15, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) held a hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Robert L. Santos, the Biden Administration’s nominee to lead the U.S. Census Bureau (see previous coverage). In his opening statement, Santos, the current president of the American Statistical Association, described himself as a “a scientist, executive level manager, policy researcher, and long-time friend and supporter of the Census Bureau and the entire federal statistical system” and noted that while he would be serving in a politically appointed role, he is “not a politician.” COSSA joined over 30 stakeholder organizations…

House Immigration Subcommittee Holds Hearing on U.S. Immigration Policy and Foreign Talent

On July 13, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship held a hearing to discuss if current U.S. immigration policies are pushing foreign-born talent to other countries, specifically Canada, including talent in science and research. The subcommittee heard testimony from Executive Director of the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) Stuart Anderson; Associate Professor at Howard University Dr. Ronil Hira; Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dr. Sudip Parikh; and Chief Executive Officer of Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) Jennifer G. Young. Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ranking member Tom…

OSTP to Hold Science Integrity Listening Sessions

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will hold a series of public virtual listening sessions to inform its assessment of federal scientific integrity policies pursuant to President Biden’s January memorandum on science integrity and evidence-based policymaking. These sessions will complement an open request for information on science integrity and evidence-based policymaking (see previous coverage). Each of the three listening sessions will focus on a different theme: July 28: Communication July 29: Science and Education July 30: Use of Scientific and Technical Information More details and information on how to register for the listening sessions is available…

NIH and OSTP to Hold Stakeholder Listening Sessions on ARPA-H Priorities

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) have announced the dates for a series of virtual listening sessions to receive feedback from scientific societies, patient advocacy groups, industry, and other stakeholders about potential projects and priorities for Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), the proposed new agency to be housed within NIH dedicated to high-risk, high-reward research applied to solve broad societal problems (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). The listening sessions, which will be broken up by topical focus, may include a variety of formats including large,…

SBE Seeks New Director for Social and Economic Sciences Division

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting applications for the position of Division Director for the Social and Economic Sciences (SES) Division within the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE). The Division Director “serves as a member of the directorate’s leadership team and as a principal NSF spokesperson for social and economic sciences.” More information on the position can be found in the Dear Colleague Letter from SBE. Applications may be submitted through USAJOBS and are being accept through August 6, 2021.

NIAAA Requesting Input on 2022-2026 Strategic Plan Outline

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a Request for Information inviting feedback from stakeholders on the outline of the upcoming NIAAA Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2022-2026. The strategic plan outline, which is included in the request, contains several cross-cutting themes including promoting health equity and diversity in alcohol research spaces, identifying unique risks for alcohol misuse, advancing research on co-occurring conditions with alcohol misuse, supporting new technologies on diagnosis of alcoholism, increasing the use of data science in alcohol research, and encouraging collaboration between alcohol research…

NSF Soliciting Nominations for 2022 Waterman Award

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting nominations for the Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest honor awarded by the NSF to early-career researchers. The annual award recognizes an outstanding young researcher, 40 years of age or younger or no more than 10 years beyond receipt of their Ph.D., in any field of science or engineering supported by the National Science Foundation. In addition to a medal, the awardee receives a grant of $1,000,000 over a five-year period for scientific research or advanced study in the mathematical, physical, biological, engineering, social or other sciences at the institution of the recipient’s choice….

National Academies Holds Meetings on the Future of Education Research at IES

On July 7 and 8, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) convened the second and third meetings of the panel on the Future of Education Research at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education (see previous COSSA coverage for more background). While much of these meetings consisted of closed-door sessions, there were three open, public sessions discussing a variety of topics related to the methods and measures used in education research, on the impact of investments in education research, and on training and retaining future talent in the education research enterprise. The…

HOT TOPIC: Competing Visions – The NSF for the Future Act and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act

In June 2021, the House and Senate advanced separate versions of legislation to enhance U.S. innovation and global competitiveness. The approaches taken by the two bills, however, differ dramatically. The Senate bill focuses squarely on ways to harness and in some cases alter the nation’s scientific assets to better compete with China. The House bill, on the other hand, doubles down on the nation’s existing, proven scientific leadership and proposes additional investments to push the U.S. research enterprise—particularly the National Science Foundation—into new directions. Despite the many differences between them, some parallels can be found; for example, both propose establishing…

July Headlines to Feature Deep Dive on NSF Legislation

COSSA members can sign up for the monthly Headlines webchat to catch up on the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month and answer your questions. Stick around for our deep dive discussion as we break down the House and Senate’s competing NSF reauthorization bills and what they could mean for the social and behavioral sciences. Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

“Why Social Science?” Looks at Trans Activism and Linguistics

The latest Why Social Science? guest post comes from sociolinguist Aris Keshav who writes about the contributions trans activists have made to linguistics, and how engaging with trans activism can help shape the way we think about language. Read it here and subscribe.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Innovation Legislation Signed into Law (January 10, 2017)

In celebration of COSSA’s 40th anniversary, we are diving into the decades of Washington Update archives to share articles from years past that resonate with today’s news. As previously reported, lawmakers worked in the final weeks of 2016 to find common ground on research innovation legislation, known as the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084), before adjourning for the year. The bill passed the Senate in early December, but did not get a House vote before lawmakers headed home for the holidays. However, given that the House had not yet officially adjourned for the year, the bill was quietly passed on December…

COSSA Urges Advocates to Contact Elected Officials in Support of Social Science in FY 2022

As Congressional appropriators are preparing legislation that will determine funding for federal science and data agencies for the next year, COSSA released an action alert urging social science advocates to reach out to their Congressional representatives to tell them to fight for robust investments in social and behavioral science research and data. COSSA created a menu of letters that stakeholders can send to their Members of Congress to share their priorities for the coming year. COSSA’s TAKE ACTION page allows advocates to quickly send a letter to their Senators and Representative and tell them why they care about supporting the National Science…

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