Issue 23 (December 13)


COSSA Releases 2017 Rankings of Social and Behavioral Science Funding at Colleges and Universities

COSSA recently released its 2017 College and University Rankings for Federal Social and Behavioral Science R&D, which highlights the top university recipients of research dollars in the social and behavioral sciences. Nine of this year’s top 10 recipients of federal funding in the social and behavioral sciences are COSSA members. Based on federally collected data, the COSSA rankings use an inclusive selection of fields to calculate the total federal R&D funding received by universities in the social and behavioral sciences. The 2017 rankings reflect spending from fiscal year 2015, the most current available data. You can find more information on how COSSA produces its rankings and see how your university stacks up against more than 450 U.S. institutions on our website.

The top 10 recipients for 2017 are:

Top Recipients of Federal Social Science R&D Funding

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (NC) – $92,039,000
  2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MI) – $88,373,000
  3. University of Maryland, College Park (MD) – $58,793,000
  4. University of Pennsylvania (PA) – $43,314,000
  5. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (MN) – $38,279,000
  6. Pennsylvania State University, University Park and Hershey Medical Center (PA) – $37,264,000
  7. University of Washington, Seattle (WA) – $36,876,000
  8. Florida State University (FL) – $31,382,000
  9. New York University (NY) – $30,804,000
  10. Arizona State University (AZ) – $29,812,000

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COSSA Joins Scientific Community in Calling for President-Elect to Name a Science Advisor

In a letter to the presidential transition team, COSSA Executive Director Wendy Naus joined the leadership of 28 other leading science organization in calling for President-Elect Trump to quickly appoint a qualified Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. They urge the President-Elect to name a candidate who is “a nationally respected leader with appropriate engineering, scientific, management and policy skills.” The letter notes, “If we are to maintain America’s global leadership, and respond to the economic and security challenges currently facing the nation, we must build on our strong history of federal support for innovation, entrepreneurship and science and technology.” The full letter is available here.

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New Issue of “Setting the Record Straight on ‘Wasteful Research’”

COSSA has released the latest issue of Setting the Record Straight on “Wasteful Research” (PDF available here), a series of interviews with researchers whose work has been called out in Congressional wastebooks or other attacks. This series aims 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 Megan Tracy (James Madison University), whose National Science Foundation-funded study on regulations in China’s dairy industry was one of the targets of Lamar Smith’s inquiry into NSF grants in 2013 and 2014.

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Congress Passes Stopgap Funding Bill, Adjourns

Congress passed another continuing resolution (CR) late in the evening on December 9, just a few hours before government funding would have run out. This stop-gap funding measure will keep the government funded until April 28, 2017. The bill, passed with the support of the incoming Trump Administration, will leave the fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations process unfinished and delay major spending decisions to the next Congress and next Administration. The text of the Continuing Resolution is available here. For full details of the FY 2017 spending debate as it pertains to social science research, check out COSSA’s coverage.

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21st Century Cures Act Becomes Law

In a display of bipartisanship, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act. The House overwhelmingly passed an updated version of the bill (H.R. 34) on November 30 by a vote of 392 to 26. On December 7, the Senate followed suit with its consideration of the bill and passed it by a recorded vote of 94 to 5. President Obama signed the bill on December 13. The comprehensive bill provides an infusion of funding for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve drugs and devices with greater urgency, provides resources to states to assist in fighting the opioid epidemic, and provides a boost for mental health care. (more…)

Last-Ditch Effort to Pass “COMPETES” Legislation Falls Short

In a last-minute show of bipartisanship, the Senate passed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084) before adjourning for the year. However, given that the House had already effectively adjourned for the remainder of the 114th Congress, the bill will not become law this year. It may resurface early in the next Congress; however, given all of the questions surrounding the incoming Trump Administration, future consideration is not guaranteed.

Before the House adjourned, House and Senate Committees had been quietly conferencing S. 3084 with the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1806) over the last several weeks. As previously reported, the original version of the House bill aimed to pick winners and losers among the sciences supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), with a hefty cut slated for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE), among other challenging provisions. The Senate bill, on the other hand, was largely seen as a counterpoint to the House bill for its much more positive and forward-looking provisions. Despite the many differences between S. 3084 and H.R. 1806, negotiators were able to find common ground on a variety of science policy provisions covering topics such as the merit review process, STEM education, and administrative burden, among others. It is important to note that while the original purpose of both bills was to authorize funding for NSF for the years ahead, agreement could not be reached on overall levels and therefore negotiators elected to keep numbers out the bill. That means that NSF’s authorization is still expired (since 2013) and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee (under the leadership of Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX)) may very well introduce another NSF authorization bill in the next Congress. (more…)

GOP Chairmen Send Letter of Support for NIH Director; Maryland Lawmaker Expresses Interest in Leading Agency

On December 2, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairmen Tom Cole (R-OK) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) sent a letter to President-elect Trump’s transition team, urging the new administration to retain National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins. The chairmen state that Collins is the “right person, at the right time” to lead the NIH. They further emphasized that “under his leadership with Congress’ commitment to biomedical research as a national priority, the National Institutes of Health will thrive and continue to enhance the Nation’s health through scientific discovery and biomedical research.” Science magazine is also reporting that Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) is interested in the position. Harris currently sits on the House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the NIH’s budget. Harris, an anesthesiologist, has acknowledged that the scientific community may consider him a somewhat controversial choice to lead the agency.

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Healthier Lives Through Behavioral and Social Sciences Research: NIH OBSSR Releases Strategic Plan for 2017-2021

obssr-sp-2017-2021_page_01On November 23, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) officially released its Strategic Plan 2017-2021. The plan focuses on the scientific priorities and fundamental research challenges that “OBSSR is uniquely positioned to address,” according to OBSSR Director William Riley. The overarching theme of the three “equally important scientific priorities identified in the plan … is to encourage a more cumulative and integrated behavioral and social science research enterprise that extends from basic science through the adoption of approaches to improve the nation’s health.”

Specifically, the three priorities are:

  1. Improve the synergy of basic and applied behavioral and social sciences research (view video).
  2. Enhance and promote the research infrastructure, methods, and measures needed to support a more cumulative and integrative approach to behavioral and social sciences research (view video).
  3. Facilitate the adoption of behavioral and social sciences research findings in health research and in practice (view video).

These priorities, according to the plan, “were determined based on their potential to have the greatest impact on the largest proportion of health-related behavioral and social sciences research.” To address the priorities, OBSSR intends to depend on four foundational processes, which are “central functions consistent with the OBSSR mission that can be marshalled to meet the objectives of the scientific priorities” outlined in the plan. The four processes are communication, program coordination and integration, training, and policy and evaluation (view video).

Upon releasing the plan, Riley acknowledged that OBSSR received “excellent support for the development of this plan from NIH leadership, including the NIH Director and Deputy Director, the Director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, and from NIH Institute and Center Directors.” Additionally, NIH Director Francis S. Collins and Riley authored an editorial published in Science Translational Medicine highlighting scientific and technological advances that are transforming the behavioral and social sciences. The OBSSR Strategic Plan 2017-2021 can be downloaded here.

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U.S. Surgeon General Releases Landmark Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health

On November 17, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy released the first-ever Surgeon General’s report on the substance abuse health afflicting communities. The comprehensive report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, reviews the science of substance use, misuse, and disorders, providing an in-depth look with chapters covering neurobiology, prevention, treatment, recovery, health systems integration, as well as recommendations for the future.  It also calls for a “cultural shift in the way Americans talk about the issue,” and recommends actions that can be taken to prevent and treat these conditions, as well as promote recovery. According to Murthy, substance use disorders are identified as a public health problem that requires a public health solution. The full report and executive summary are available here.

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Interagency Working Group on Language and Communication Seeks Input on R&D Report

The Interagency Working Group on Language and Communication (IWGLC) is seeking public input on its recently released report, which establishes a taxonomy to classify current federal research and development activities related to language and communication. Housed within the National Science and Technology Council, the IWGLC (charter) is made up of representatives from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Science Foundation, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, Department of Justice, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Commerce, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Transportation. The request for information was submitted by the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The IWGLC report suggests classifying ongoing language and communication R&D efforts according to the following four categories: (1) knowledge and processes underlying language and communication, (2) language and communication abilities and skills; (3) using language and communication to influence behavior and share information; and (4) language and communication technologies. The comment period closes on December 30, 2016. More information is available in the Federal Register notice.

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Federal Interagency Policy Group Targets Bias to Increase Diversity in STEM

On November 30, the Interagency Policy Group (IPG) established by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released a report, Reducing the Impact of Bias in the STEM Workforce: Strengthening Excellence and Innovation and a companion digest. The report includes recommendations of actions and strategies the federal government can take to increase diversity in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce “by mitigating the impact of implicit, institutional, or explicit bias that may exist in both the Federal Government and in federally funded institutions of higher education.” Created in October 2015, the IPG was co-chaired by OSTP Assistant Director for Broadening Participation Wanda Ward and OPM Deputy Director for Strategic Initiatives, Training, and Compliance Bruce Stewart

On December 12, Jo Handelsman, OSTP; Suzanne Iaconon, National Science Foundation (NSF); Brenda Manuel, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); Anna Han, National Institutes of Health (NIH); and Susan Fiske, Princeton University, discussed the report at the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) Colloquium on Reducing Implicit Bias. Celeste Rohlfing, AAAS, moderated the event. (more…)

NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Holds Inaugural Research Festival

On December 2, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) held its inaugural NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival. The new annual event is designed to highlight the contributions of recently funded behavioral and social science projects to health research via presentations by extramural and NIH scientists from across the spectrum of disciplines. Panel discussions highlighted new directions for health-related behavioral and social science “addressing the synergy of basic and applied research, innovations in methodology and measurement, and the adoption of research findings into practice.” Welcoming festival participants, OBSSR Director William Riley explained that the event was designed to be a “day for behavioral and social sciences at NIH to get together to highlight some of the research” that the Office has funded over the past year. Riley also discussed the “state of the science,” highlighting some of the NIH-funded research.

Jim Anderson, Deputy Director of NIH Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiative, cited the rapidly advancing progress in digital capturing of behavior and social data and our ability to use big data patterns, interpret them, and return them to individuals to influence their behavior to improve health. He also praised OBSSR’s recently released strategic plan (see related story), noting that the plan “takes advantage of a lot of the research and technological digital data use, and also moving behavioral and social science closer to human applications.” Finally, Anderson pointed to NIH’s Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative, emphasizing the “exploding capability of dealing with data, finding patterns in data. It is just a golden age for behavioral and social sciences,” he concluded. A videocast of the Festival is available on the NIH website.

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HHS Office of Minority Health Releases Compendium of Publicly Available Datasets

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) recently announced the release of a new resource, the Compendium of Publicly Available Datasets and Other Data-Related Resources, to aid researchers, public health practitioners, and policymakers with data on health and health care disparities and social determinants of health. A free resource, the Compendium provides “descriptions of and links to 132 public datasets and resources that include information about health conditions and other factors that impact the health of minority populations.” The new resource was created by the Federal Interagency Health Equity Team of the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities (NPA) to advance research, public policy, and the public’s knowledge of issues related to health equity. The Compendium is available on the NPA website.

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Call for White Papers: Social and Behavioral Sciences for National Security

The Board on Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is leading a decadal survey to identify opportunities for the social and behavioral sciences to contribute to the analytic responsibilities of the intelligence community. This survey, sponsored by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, includes two separate calls for white papers. The Board is currently calling for input from academics and researchers in the social and behavioral sciences with experience in intelligence and/or insight into the needs and challenges of the intelligence community with respect to the use of social and behavioral science research. Complete instructions can be found here.

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AERA Holds Six-City Centennial Lecture Series

As part of a year-long celebration of its centennial year, the American Educational Research Association (AERA), a COSSA governing member, is holding a Centennial Lecture Series, which reflects AERA’s “fundamental commitment to connecting education research on significant issues to wide public and policy audiences across our country.” The six-city series kicked off in Brooklyn in November 2016 and will continue through April 2017.

Webcasts of the November 30 lecture featuring Patricia Gándara discussing Educating Immigrant Students and Emergent Bilinguals (In an Anti-Immigrant Era), and the December 6 lecture in Seattle with Bruce McCandliss on Early Education and the Brain: Making Novel Connections are now available.

Future lectures include the following:

  • Los Angeles, CA — Wednesday, January 11, 2017, Bridget Terry Long, Supporting College Student Access and Success
  • Oklahoma City, OK — Wednesday, February 22, 2017, Deborah Lowe Vandell, The Opportunities and Challenges of Early Child Care and Education
  • Detroit, MI — Thursday, March 23, 2017, Charles Payne, The Limits of Schooling, the Power of Poverty
  • Boston, MA — Wednesday, April 12, 2017, Russell Skiba, School Discipline: Issues of Equity and Effectiveness

For more information and/or to register to attend the lectures, visit AERA’s website.

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AAPSS Inducts 2017 Fellows

The American Academy of Political and Social Science, a COSSA member, has announced its 2017 class of Fellows. They include sociologist Lawrence Bobo (Harvard University); political scientist Margaret Levi (Stanford University); economist Timothy Smeeding (University of Wisconsin, Madison); psychologist Claude Steele (University of California, Berkley); and Martha Minow of Harvard Law School. COSSA congratulates these distinguished individuals on their achievement. Click here to read more about the 2017 class.

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Funding Opportunities

NIH Opportunities

  • NCI: National Cancer Institute Youth Enjoy Science Research Education Program (R25) (PAR-17-059)
  • NCI: NCI Transition Career Development Award to Promote Diversity (K22) (PAR-17-069)
  • NCI: The NCI Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award (F99/K00) (RFA-CA-17-014)
  • NIA/NINR: Revision Awards to Institutional Training Programs to Advance Research on Alzheimers Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias (T32) (PAR-17-072)
  • NIAAA: Leveraging Electronic Health Records for Alcohol Services Research (R21/R33) (PAR-17-071)
  • NIDA: Optimizing the HIV Care Continuum for Substance Abusing Populations at High-Risk and/or Living with HIV (R01) (RFA-DA-17-024)
  • NIGMS: Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) (R25) (PAR-17-070)
  • NIGMS: Maximizing Access to Research Careers Undergraduate – Student Training in Academic Research (MARC U-STAR) (T34) (PAR-17-068)
  • NIMHD: Research Centers in Minority Institutions (U54) (RFA-MD-17-003)
  • NINR: Promoting Caregiver Health Using Self-Management (R01) (PA-17-062)

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Events Calendar

A list of COSSA members’ annual meetings and other events can be found on the COSSA events page. 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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