Issue 15 (July 26)


State of Play: FY 2017 Funding for Social Science Research

Congress has adjourned for a seven-week recess and will not be returning to work until after Labor Day. Despite promises for a return to “regular order” in the annual appropriations process, we find ourselves in familiar territory with none of the 12 annual spending bills expected to be enacted into law before the new fiscal year begins October 1. In fact, none of the bills that fund research agencies and programs (the Commerce, Justice Science bill and the Labor, HHS, Education bill) have yet to make it to the House or Senate floors for debate.

Upon returning to work in September, Congress will be faced with a full plate of must-pass legislation and a limited number of days before breaking again for the fall elections. Among the countless unknowns surrounding a possible endgame strategy for appropriations is one certainty – the need to pass a stopgap funding measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to avoid a government shutdown come October 1. The length of the impending CR, though, is still up for debate. Scenarios range from a CR of a couple of months with final action completed in the December timeframe (forcing a lame duck session of Congress after the November elections), to a six-month-long CR that would delay action until after the new Administration and Congress are sworn in, to possibly a year-long continuing resolution that would fund agencies at the FY 2016 level through the end of next fiscal year. These details will need to be sorted out over the next several weeks, and consensus remains far-off. However, all parties appear equally committed to avoiding a government shutdown.

COSSA has been reporting on the status of the FY 2017 appropriations bills over the last several months. Read on for a recap of progress made to date as it relates to social and behavioral science research. Congress will pick up where it left off when Members return to work in September. Full details on the various bills considered so far can be viewed on the COSSA website.

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New COSSA Resource: Setting the Record Straight on “Wasteful Research”

Support for fundamental, basic research has been an essential function of the federal government for decades. The National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies invest in scientific research that has led to some of our country’s most important innovations. Support for basic research has the potential to change the way we live, create new knowledge, solve societal challenges, and help us to better understand our world. Still, some policy makers routinely dismiss projects as “wasteful” without attempting to fully understand their potential benefits to society or the progress of science. In a new monthly series, Setting the Record Straight on Wasteful Research, COSSA is providing an opportunity for researchers to set the record straight about the value and potential of their work, and confronting misconceptions about social science research funded by the federal government.

The first issue features Stephanie Tong (Wayne State University), whose National Science Foundation-funded study on how online dating platforms affect perception was ridiculed in Jeff Flake’s 2015 “The Farce Awakens” wastebook.

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NIFA Seeks Feedback on Childhood Obesity Prevention Scientific Priorities

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is seeking stakeholder input on the scientific priorities for its Integrated Approaches to Prevent Childhood Obesity programs. NIFA’s current childhood obesity prevention RFA is active and accepting applications through August 4. The feedback received will be considered as the agency develops future RFAs. The program’s current priorities are to “Generate new knowledge of the behavioral (not metabolic), social, cultural, and/or environmental factors, including the food and physical activity environment, that influence childhood obesity and use this information to develop and implement effective family, peer, community, early care and education settings, and/or school-based interventions for preventing overweight and obesity and promoting healthy behaviors in children and adolescents (ages 2–19 years or any subset of this age range).” More information on the request and the form to submit comments is available on the NIFA website. Feedback will be accepted until August 4.

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National Institute of Justice Seeking Applications in Forensics and Violence Research

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is seeking social science researchers to fill two positions to support forensics and violence research in the Office of Research and Evaluation. Both positions are temporary, two-year details with the opportunity to extend for an additional year. The first detail will coordinate intermural and extramural research projects on sexual assault and forensics. The second detail will conduct and support research and evaluation activities in the NIJ’s violence against women research portfolio. Applications for both positions are due by July 28.

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NIH Aging Institute Seeking to Fill Vacancies

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking candidates for a number of job vacancies and has released pre-announcements for the positions. NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) and its recently appointed director John Haaga are looking to fill the following positions:

The Institute is also seeking a Public Affairs Specialist in the Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL), a Program Analyst in the Division of Neuroscience, a Program Analyst in the Division of Extramural Affairs, and a Health Science Administrator in the Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology. Formal position announcements for all of the positions are or will be posted on

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Nominations Open for New National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (a public-private venture created by the 2014 Farm Bill) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have endowed a $100,000 National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences. The annual prize will recognize an “extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the biology of a species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production.” Potential recipients may represent any of the following fields: plant and animal sciences, microbiology, nutrition and food science, soil science, entomology, veterinary medicine, and agricultural economics. Nominations are being accepted through October 3, 2016. More information is available on the Foundation website.

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Congressional Briefing Highlights Research for Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

On June 24, the National Prevention Science Coalition (NPSC), RTI International (a COSSA member organization), and the American Orthopsychiatry Association sponsored a Congressional briefing, Fighting the Opioid Epidemic on Multiple Fronts by Leveraging Empirical Evidence, to discuss “research-based evidence for strategies preventing, intervening, and maintaining abstinence from opiate addictions.” The briefing’s speakers included Scott Novak, RTI International; Terrence Walton, National Association of Drug Court Professionals; and Kenzie Preston, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Novak’s presentation, “Opioids in America: Opportunities for Prevention and Treatment,” addressed the scope of the United States’ opioid crisis from a scientific perspective and potential opportunities for intervention. He cautioned that the crisis goes beyond the number of overdoses and extends to HIV/AIDS, in part due to the lack of needle exchange and methadone/drug treatment programs. Novak also highlighted the role of long acting Oxycodone and prescription pain reliever misuse and the nonmedical use of prescription opioids as a risk for heroin use/abuse.

In his presentation, “America’s Most Trusted Alternative to Incarceration Is Providing Hope in the Midst of the Opiate Crisis,” Walton described the mission and activities of drugs courts, which are “special court dockets or calendars designed to treat those with substance use disorders and help them change their lives.” The courts provide a “public health response to addiction and mental illness in the justice system,” noted Walton. Citing the National Institute of Justice’s Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Study, which found that the courts significantly reduce drug use and crime, he emphasized that the courts work.

Preston described the various treatments available for opioid addictions, including behavioral therapy and medication for relapse prevention, pathways to abstinence, and NIDA-supported research designed to improve treatment in her presentation, “Treatment of Opioid-Use Disorders: Pathways to Abstinence.” She also examined the promise of mobile health technologies on the horizon, including those that measure mood and behavior, GPS, and biosensors.

COSSA is a partner of NPSC. Videos and the presentations from the session are available on NPSC’s website.

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Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • NIA: Predictors and Determinants of Age-Related Changes in Resiliencies to Physical Stressors in Humans (UH2/UH3) (RFA-AG-17-014)
  • NIA: T1 Translational Research on Aging: Small Business Innovation Awards (R43/R44) (PAR-16-375)
  • NIA: T2 Translational Research on Aging: Small Business Innovation Awards (R43/R44) (PAR-16-376)
  • NIDDK: Promoting Organ and Tissue Donation Among Diverse Populations (R01) (RFA-DK-16-022)

NIEHS: Revolutionizing Innovative, Visionary Environmental health Research (RIVER) (R35) (RFA-ES-16-008)

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CASBS Seeks Fellowship Applications

The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University, a COSSA member, is now accepting applications for its residential fellowships for the 2017– 2018 academic year. The CASBS fellowship provides an outstanding opportunity for scholars to pursue innovative research and expand their horizons while engaging with a diverse, interdisciplinary community. The fellowship has been considered a career milestone for any scholar, and most recipients report that the year had a transformative effect on their work. Online applications will be accepted at the Center’s website through November 4, 2016 for the 2017–2018 fellowship year. For more information, guidelines, and application requirements, see CASBS’ website.

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Events Calendar

A list of COSSA members’ annual meetings and other events can be found on the COSSA website. COSSA members who have an upcoming event they would like to see listed in the Events Calendar and on our website should send an email to

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