Executive Branch News

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….

White House Seeks Input on Scientific Integrity Policies

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has issued a request for information (RFI) on ways to improve the effectiveness of federal scientific integrity policies, in support of President Biden’s January 27 Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking (see previous coverage). OSTP has convened an interagency task force of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) that will conduct a review of the government’s science integrity policies. To inform this effort, OSTP seeks information about: “(1) The effectiveness of federal scientific integrity policies and needed areas of improvement; (2) good practices federal…

OMB Issues New Evidence-Based Policymaking Guidance

On June 30, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued new guidance related to the implementation of the 2018 Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (“Evidence Act”) (see previous coverage). The guidance (memorandum M-21-27)—the first Evidence Act guidance released under the Biden Administration—affirms the Administration’s commitment to the goals of the Evidence Act and expands on previously released guidance related to Learning Agendas and Annual Evaluation Plans. It also more explicitly connects agency activities under the Evidence Act to the White House’s January 27 Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking (see previous…

NSF Highlights Opportunities for Collaboration between Social and Computer Sciences

On June 23, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a Dear Colleague Letter highlighting existing opportunities for collaboration at the agency’s Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate and Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate. The letter cites the prevalence of overlap between the fields of social science and computer science as motivation for increased collaboration and that this collaboration may be critical for addressing societal problems. The letter also notes that the SBE and CISE Advisory Committees have been discussing research areas of mutual interest which may indicate increased collaborations in the future. A list of the…

Eric Lander Active in First Few Weeks as OSTP Director; Community Awaits PCAST Appointments

In the first few weeks since his confirmation on May 28, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Eric Lander has been active in advocating for President Biden’s ambitious science policy agenda, most notably the proposal for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), the DARPA-like research agency proposed to be housed within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). During the June 10-11 meeting of the Advisory Committee to the Director of NIH, Lander presented a more thorough vision of ARPA-H’s role as a high risk, high reward vehicle to address specific societal questions….

NSF Announces Research and Innovation Partnership with Canadian Counterpart

On June 15, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced its first formal partnership with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, the major Canadian federal agency for funding natural science and engineering research. The partnership is stated to focus on emerging technologies as well as equity, diversity, and inclusion within the research enterprise. NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, who has frequently cited partnerships as a priority for his tenure, stated “this partnership with our counterpart Canadian funding agency opens doorways to new possibilities for international collaboration between U.S. and Canadian researchers in areas of mutual interest and national…

Department of Education Solicits Comments on New School Pulse Survey

The Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has requested emergency Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clearance to conduct a School Pulse Survey that will produce information on how schools, students, and educators are responding in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The survey, which COSSA and other stakeholders have advocated for, is intended to comply with President Biden’s day-one executive order on school reopening, which requires the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), NCES’s home agency, to facilitate “the collection of data necessary to fully understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and educators, including…

Biden Administration Release FY 2022 Budget Request; Read COSSA’s Analysis

On May 28, the Biden Administration released details of its fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request to Congress. A “skinny budget” with preliminary details was issued on April 9. As with any first budget of a new presidential administration, the blueprint outlines several shifts in priority from the last administration as well as proposals for new activities and initiatives. Of particular note, the Biden budget underscores the President’s commitment to science as a means for addressing large societal challenges, such as climate change, racism, and, of course, pandemic recovery. To this end, the budget request proposes some fairly major changes…

NIH Working Group Presents Report on Opportunities in Basic Behavioral and Social Science Research

During the May 20-21 meeting of the Council of Councils at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a Working Group on Basic Behavioral and Social Science Research (bBSSR) presented a report analyzing past support for basic research on behavioral and social phenomena related to health and areas ripe for additional study. The working group report, co-chaired by the Director of NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) Dr. Bill Riley, looks at the historical trends of basic research at NIH and identifies potential trans-NIH opportunities to fill gaps in the agency’s efforts. The presentation touched on several trends…

Social Scientist Nicholas Carnes Named Co-Winner of NSF’s Waterman Award

On May 11, the National Science Foundation (NSF) named two co-winners of the 2021 Alan T. Waterman Award, the agency’s highest honor for early-career scientists. One of the co-winners, Dr. Nicholas Carnes, is a social scientist from Duke University who was recognized for research on the social determinants affecting people’s pursuit of public or community service. The Waterman Award was presented to the winners at the National Science Board (NSB) meeting on May 18-19. “Getting involved in public service is a really time-consuming and really complicated process. The challenge for scientists is understanding all the links in the chain,” Carnes…

NIH Launches New Bridge2AI Program

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund has established a new program, Bridge to Artificial Intelligence (Bridge2AI), which aims to generate flagship data sets and best practices for the collection and preparation of Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML)-ready data to address biomedical and behavioral research grand challenges. The program plans to support several interdisciplinary Data Generation Projects (OTA-21-008) and one complementary cross-cutting Integration, Dissemination and Evaluation (BRIDGE) Center (NOT-RM-21-021). The new program was the subject of a recent post on the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Director’s blog. NIH will also host a series of webinars and virtual events in June to share more information about…

Minerva Research Initiative Announces FY 2021 Funding Opportunities

The Minerva Research Initiative, the signature social science research program within the Department of Defense (DOD), has announced research opportunities for fiscal year (FY) 2021 and listed several target research topics for the program. Minerva aims to apply social science research to critical national security questions and inform broader DOD decision-making based on this research. The following nine topics have been listed as key areas of interest for research to address: Social Implications of Environmental Change Resource Competition, Social Cohesion, and Strategic Climate Resilience Security Risks in Ungoverned, Semi-Governed, and Differently-Governed Spaces Analysis of Foreign Influence Operations in Cross-Cultural Perspective…

SBE Calls for Proposals for International Collaborative Research to Aid Pandemic Recovery

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) has announced that it is participating in the Trans-Atlantic Platform Call for Proposals: Recovery, Renewal, and Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World (T-AP RRR). T-AP RRR is a grant competition that will support international collaborative research projects that address gaps in our understanding of the complex and dynamic societal effects of COVID-19. Proposals are asked to address one or more of the following challenges: reducing inequalities and vulnerabilities; building a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable society; fostering democratic governance and participation; advancing responsible and inclusive digital innovation; and/or…

ECHO Program Seeks Comments on Collecting Pre-Conception Data

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a request for information (RFI) on improving the science of the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program (see COSSA’s previous coverage). NIH is interested in input from the external community on topics including (but not limited to) enhancing the program’s study origins of child health outcomes originating prior to conception, as well as more general strategies for maintaining scientific value while reducing the burden of primary data collection on participants and staff, addressing public health emergencies, enhancing recruitment and retention of diverse populations, and promoting diversity of the workforce related…

First 2020 Census Data Released; 7 Congressional Seats Change Hands

On April 26, the Census Bureau released the first data from the 2020 Census, including each state’s apportionment population counts (used to allocate seats to the U.S. House of Representatives and electoral college votes), resident population accounts, and overseas population counts. The release of the Constitutionally-required information was delayed due to the operational challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the additional time needed to correct duplicate and incomplete responses. Overall, seven Congressional seats will shift as a result of the 2020 Census. California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will each lose one Congressional seat, while Colorado,…

NSB Seeks Nominations for 2022 Vacancies

Nominations are being sought for to fill eight upcoming vacancies on the National Science Board (NSB), the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF) that also serves as an independent advisor to the President and Congress on federal science policy. The Board consists of 24 members who serve staggered six-year terms, with the NSF director serving as a 25th ex officio member. Nominations are considered by the NSB, which makes recommendations to the White House and new members of the Board are appointed by the President. For the incoming class of 2022-2028, the NSB is particularly interested in individuals with…

White House Nominates Rob Santos, Current ASA President, to Lead Census Bureau

President Biden has named Robert Santos, Vice President & Chief Methodologist at the Urban Institute, as his Administration’s choice to lead the Census Bureau. Santos, who is currently serving as the President of the American Statistical Association (ASA), a COSSA governing member, has had a distinguished career, holding positions at the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center, NORC at the University of Chicago, and ISR Temple University. According to the White House press release, he has expertise in “survey sampling, survey design and more generally in social science/policy research.” Santos has also served on the advisory committees for the Census…

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