Issue 17 (September 6)


Congress Returns with Much Left Undone

Congress returns to work this week for one more stretch before the November elections. This will be the final work period before the current fiscal year (FY 2016) expires on September 30. That means some type of action is needed in the coming weeks to keep the federal government funded and operating come October 1. See COSSA’s analysis of the state of play of FY 2017 Appropriations bills for full details.

In addition to action on the annual spending bills (which will undoubtedly result in a continuing resolution punting final action to after the election), Congress will be looking to enact funding for the Zika crisis and a handful of other pressing issues over the next few weeks; these efforts will consume every available minute between now and the next recess. That means the 114th Congress is likely to adjourn at the end of the year with several bills impacting the social and behavioral sciences left on the table. This includes a number of authorization bills of consequence to the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Institute of Education Sciences. COSSA summarizes the State of Play of Authorization Bills in an analysis released last month.

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COSSA Releases Second Issue of “Setting the Record Straight on ‘Wasteful Research’”

COSSA has released the second issue of Setting the Record Straight on “Wasteful Research” (PDF available here). This series features interviews with researchers whose work has been called out in Congressional wastebooks or other attacks. We are hoping to give these scientists the chance to set the record straight about the value and potential of their work– and confront misconceptions about social science research funded by the federal government. This edition features Lisa Neff (University of Texas, Austin), whose National Science Foundation-funded study on relationships among older adults was ridiculed in James Lankford’s “Federal Fumbles” wastebook.

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Congressional Briefing on Violence Prevention

The Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy and WestEd’s Justice and Prevention Research Center are hosting a Congressional Briefing on Tuesday, September 27 on violence and violence prevention. Topics covered will include strategies for violence prevention, patterns of violence, as well as the influences and costs of violence. Nancy Rodriguez, the Director of the National Institute of Justice, will introduce a diverse panel of experts from the public, academic, and non-profit sectors, including COSSA board member and Director of the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center Nancy La Vigne. Register to attend the briefing here.

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NSF Seeks Input into Next Strategic Plan

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is in the beginning stages of updating its strategic plan, which it does every four years. Its current strategic plan, Investing in Science, Engineering, and Education for the

Nation’s Future, was released in 2014 and runs through 2018. As an initial step, NSF is soliciting comment on the “Vision, Core Values, Strategic Goals, and Strategic Objectives” included in the current plan (2014-2018). Public input can be provided on the NSF website by September 27.

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NIH Center for Scientific Review Seeks Director for Division of AIDS, Behavioral, and Population Sciences

The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Center for Scientific Review (CSR) is seeking a Director for its Division of AIDS, Behavioral, and Population Sciences (DABP). The Director of DABP is a member of CSR’s senior management, advises the Director of CSR and other NIH officials on scientific issues relevant to the Division and its mission, and represents CSR within and outside of NIH. DABP’s director will “provide scientific leadership for the Division, which handles reviews covering the broad fields of AIDS and AIDS related research, biobehavioral and behavioral processes, epidemiology and population sciences, healthcare delivery and methodologies, and risk, prevention and health behavior.” Additionally, the DABP Director plays “a key role in developing plans and providing direction as the peer review process evolves and NIH works to maintain and enhance it.” Additional responsibilities include: participating in strategic planning activities for achieving CSR’s scientific and management goals; assisting in establishing policy, principles and practices related to referral and review; and directing implementation of program and management changes. For more information see NIH’s website.

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Diana Bianchi Named director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

On August 25, NatioBianchinal Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins announced the selection of Diana Bianchi as director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). She is expected to begin her NIH tenure on October 31, 2016. Bianchi joins the NIH from the Floating Hospital for Children and Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and is the fou
nding director of the Mother Infant Research Institute and vice chair for pediatric research. A medical geneticist with special expertise in reproductive genetics, Bianchi’s research focuses on prenatal genomics. Read more about Bianchi and NICHD here.

Collins also recognized Catherine Spong who served as the NICHD’s acting director for the past year.

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NIH Seeks Input on Metrics to Assess Value of Biomedical Digital Repositories

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is soliciting the input of the scientific community regarding “metrics to assess the value and impact of biomedical digital data repositories that may provide a basis for technical and science policy actions required to support” repositories’ long-term sustainability. NIH notes that its goal for data management and sharing “is to make publicly-funded data broadly accessible to support reuse, reproducibility and discovery while simultaneously balancing the costs and the benefits.” Accordingly, the agency has issued a request for information (RFI), (NOT-OD-16-133), seeking information on qualitative and quantitative metrics that describe utilization at multiple levels; quality and impact indicators,; quality of service; governance and infrastructure; qualitative metrics; and the use of case studies demonstrating the value of the repository. For more information and/or to respond, see the Notice. The agency further announced that it expects to release an additional RFI on “NIH Data Sharing Strategies” in the near future.

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NIOSH Requests Input on Motor Vehicle Safety Research Priorities

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is looking for input from the scientific community on the direction of its motor vehicle safety research efforts (see its Center for Motor Vehicle Safety strategic plan). Specifically, the Institute is seeking feedback on its research priorities, communications and outreach efforts, and how its products are used by stakeholders. Comments may be submitted in writing by October 14, 2016 or during a public web meeting on September 14, 2016. More information is available in the Federal Register.

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Candidates Sought for CDC Health Disparities Advisory Subcommittee

The Health Disparities Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (ACD, CDC) is seeking nominations for new members. The Subcommittee provides expert advice to the CDC Director and Health and Human Services leadership on ways to reduce health disparities, including through research, program and policy analysis, and other CDC activities. Candidates should have expertise in “health policy, public health, global health, preparedness, preventive medicine, the faith-based and community-based sector, and allied fields.” More information is available in the Federal Register notice. Nominations are due by September 30, 2016.

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Webinar on NIJ Fellowships

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) will host a webinar on Monday, September 19 at 3:00-4:00pm to provide an overview of research fellowship opportunities with NIJ. NIJ is the research, development, and evaluation division of the Department of Justice and provides fellowship opportunities for both early career researchers and experienced researchers in the social and behavioral sciences and other STEM fields. NIJ’s fellowship programs include the Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the W.E.B. DuBois Fellowship, the Visiting Fellows Program, the New Investigator/Early Career Program, and the Research Assistantship Program. The webinar is free and open to the public. Registration can be found here.

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New Social Science-Extreme Weather Research Alliance Being Formed, Input Sought

A new public-private research partnership is taking shape, looking specifically at the interdisciplinary and highly complex challenges associated with extreme weather events. The Alliance for Social-Behavioral Systems and Extreme Environmental Events (The Alliance) is the product of several years of community workshops, reports and other discussions on ways in which to bring the social, behavioral, and economic sciences to bear on helping society better “understand, prepare for, mitigate, and respond and adapt to extreme environmental events.” The most recent workshop, held in May 2015, served as an impetus for The Alliance as it is now conceptualized. It will be formally launched around November 1.

The Alliance will not become a new research center, nor is it intended to compete with existing research organizations for limited federal research funds. Instead, it will serve as a convener of diverse stakeholder communities (including researchers, emergency managers, Federal and state governments, private industry, and foundations) to tackle these issues using a holistic scientific approach (to include the social sciences, physical sciences, engineering, and technology). With this in mind, an Organization and Start-Up Plan for The Alliance has been released for public comment, which is due by October 1 (public comment can be submitted through email). In addition, two teleconferences have been scheduled to allow for additional public input and will occur on September 16 at 11:30-12:30 am and September 22 at 2:00-3:00 pm. The call-in details are posted on this website.

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2016 Golden Goose Award Ceremony

The 2016 Golden Goose Award Ceremony will be held at 5:30pm on Thursday, September 22 in the Coolidge Auditorium in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. The Golden Goose Award celebrates federally-funded research that may seem obscure but has led to major scientific breakthroughs. This year’s honorees include researchers in the social and behavioral sciences, including the team who conducted the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Attendance at the award ceremony and reception is free and open to the public. Registration can be found here.

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National Academies Seeks Comments on Indicators for Undergrad STEM Education

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NAS) Board on Science Education (BSE) seeks comments on its draft report, Developing Indicators for Undergraduate STEM Education. An expert panel, the Committee on Developing Indicators for Undergraduate STEM Education, was convened to develop national indicators for monitoring the quality of undergraduate STEM. The Committee proposes “a conceptual framework of goals and objectives for improving the quality of undergraduate STEM.” A two-phase study, the Committee now seeks input as it prepares to develop indicators. A series of questions for consideration can be accessed on BSE’s website. In addition, a one-day public meeting is planned for October 6, 2016 to allow the Committee to obtain additional input. Input received will inform the second phase of the study, which includes development of “a report which includes the committee’s conceptual framework for an indicator system, a brief review of existing approaches to monitoring STEM in higher education, descriptions of key constructs that need to be measured, a set of indicators and potential data sources.” Further, the Committee is also asked to specify additional areas of research needed to develop appropriate measures. The deadline to provide feedback to the Committee is October 14.

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2017 National Academies Workshop on Current and Future Training Needs in Social and Behavioral Sciences

In an August 31 blog post, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) Director William Riley announced the convening of a 2017 National Academies workshop that is being sponsored by OBSSR and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate. The workshop will address the current and future training needs in the behavioral and social sciences and responds to the various reports in recent years that “indicate that a majority of behavioral and social sciences doctors are entering research careers in areas outside of the traditional academic research track; and even those going into academia face challenges initiating and maintaining a grant-supported research program.” Along with the “emerging technologies and big data efforts that are transforming the approaches and methods in the field, rethinking the graduate education of behavioral and social scientists is clearly needed,” Riley further noted. The OBSSR director shared that the project “has broad government support from the Social and Behavioral Sciences Subcommittee of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC)” and has been identified as a “pressing need.” In addition, reexamining graduate training in social and behavioral sciences is a significant area of focus in the OBSSR’s Strategic Plan 2017-2020. Read Riley’s full blog post here.

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Academies National Security Study Committee Seeks Nominations

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is conducting a decadal survey to identify opportunities from the social and behavioral sciences that can assist the intelligence community in its analytic responsibilities and contribute to national security. The project, which sponsored by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, will be launched at a summit in early October. The Academies is seeking nominations for members to serve on the study committee for the survey, particularly those with expertise in the social and behavioral sciences, national security, intelligence analysis, related professional disciplines, and interdisciplinary approaches to science. More information is available on the project website. Nominations are due by September 30, 2016.

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Academies Releases Report on Science Literacy

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released findings and conclusions from the Board on Science Education’s review of science literacy in the U.S. The Board on Science Education analyzed science literacy at the societal, community, and individual level. They found that adults in the U.S. have comparable levels of science literacy to adults in other economically developed countries and that there is a small, positive relationship between science literacy and support for science. Additionally, the Board found that an individual’s support of science in general does not predict his or her support or attitude for a specific scientific issue.  The full report can be read here.

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Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) Program to Hold Technical Assistant Webinar

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) Common Fund Program recently announced a pre-application technical assistance webinar for a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for administrative supplements to active NIH-funded clinical research. The SOBC Program “seeks to accelerate investigations of common mechanisms of behavior change applicable across a broad range of health behaviors, including medical regimen adherence.” The webinar specifically addresses the Science of Behavior Change: Use-inspired Basic Research to Optimize Behavior Change Interventions and Outcomes FOA (PA-16-334), and is scheduled for Thursday, September 8 at 2:00 pm ET. Registration is required to participate.

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International Panel on Social Progress Releases Draft Report for Comment

The International Panel on Social Progress (IPSP) is an organization comprised of scholars in the social sciences and humanities from around the world with the goal of synthesizing the current scientific evidence on social change. The Panel has released 14 of 22 chapters of its draft report for public comment. The chapters cover topics such as “Social Justice, Well-Being and Economic Organization,” “Inequality as a Challenge to Democracy,” “Religions and Social Progress: Critical Assessments and Creative Partnerships,” and “How Can Education Promote Social Progress?” Feedback may be submitted on IPSP’s commenting platform. The Panel plans to collect comments through the fall, but it has not yet announced when the remaining chapters will be made available or when the comment period will close.

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Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • NIFA: Army Family Advocacy Program: Research and Prevention (USDA-NIFA-EXCA-006025)
  • NIH: Global Noncommunicable Diseases and Injury Across the Lifespan: Exploratory Research (R21) (PAR-16-052) [FIC]
  • NIH: International Research Scientist Development Award (IRSDA) (K01) (PAR-15-291) [FIC]
  • NIH: Health Services Research on Minority Health and Health Disparities (R01) (PAR-16-221), (R21) (PAR-16-222)[NIMHD, NIAAA, NIDA]
  • NIH: Information Resource Grants to Reduce Health Disparities (G08) (RFA-LM-17-002) [NLM]

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