Issue 19 (October 1)


NSF Social Science Director Releases Dear Colleague Letter on Repositioning

On September 24, Arthur Lupia, Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF), published a Dear Colleague letter announcing the repositioning of some basic research programs within the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) at NSF. The letter describes the repositioned programs, which include Human Networks and Data Science; Linguistics; Science of Learning and Augmented Intelligence; Security and Preparedness; Accountable Institutions and Behavior; Law and Science; Science of Science: Discovery Communication and Impact; Ethical and Responsible Research; and Science and Technology Studies. The letter notes that these changes do not affect current NSF/SBE solicitations and submission deadlines, and that all changes will begin to take effect with solicitation and program submission deadlines occurring after January 1, 2020. The full letter is available on the NSF website. The SBE Directorate is also hosting a series of webinars and virtual office hours to present details about what the repositioning means for SBE research communities. Details on these events can be found on the NSF website.

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October’s Headlines Webchat to Feature Deep Dive on Challenges Facing USDA Research and Statistics

headlines bannerCOSSA members are encouraged to sign up for the monthly COSSA Headlines webchat on Thursday October 10, in which COSSA staff will recap the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month and answer participants’ questions. The October chat will feature Katherine Smith Evans, Director of the Committee for Government Relations for the American Economic Association and former Administrator of the Economic Research Service, on challenges facing the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

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Adam Seth Levine of Researh4impact Answers “Why Social Science?”


The latest Why Social Science? guest post comes from Adam Seth Levine, Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University and President of research4impact, who writes about how research4impact connects social scientists with community leaders to enhance the effectiveness of their organizations. Read it here and subscribe.

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President Signs Continuing Resolution Keeping Government Open Until Thanksgiving

On Friday September 27, just three days before the end of fiscal year (FY) 2019, the President signed into law a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government open until November 21. This stopgap measure will continue funding the government at FY 2019 levels and was approved by the House on September 19 and the Senate on September 26. This CR will allow the Senate to finish its work on spending bills and reconcile differences with the spending proposals from the House. At the time of this writing, the House has passed 10 of the 12 appropriations and the Senate has yet to approve any bills on the Senate floor but has advanced many through committee (see related article).

Keep an eye on COSSA’s FY 2020 reporting for updates.

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Senate Makes Progress on FY 2020 Appropriations for NSF, Census, NIH, Education, USDA

With the passage of a continuing resolution through Thanksgiving giving Congress some breathing room to complete fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations, the Senate Appropriations Committee has finally made progress in approving a number of its annual appropriations bills. COSSA has released analyses of three Senate bills that fund agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences:

Full coverage of FY 2020 appropriations, including analyses of the corresponding House proposals, is available on the COSSA website.

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House Science Committee Holds Hearing on Responding to Extreme Weather Events, Highlights Social & Behavioral Science Solutions

On September 26, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology (SST) held a hearing on understanding, forecasting, and communicating about extreme weather and other events related to climate change. Witnesses included J. Marshall Shepard, Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program in the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia; James Done, Project Scientist and Willis Research Fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research; Adam Sobel, Professor of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Director and Chief Scientist of the Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate at Columbia University; Berrien Moore, Director of the National Weather Center at the University of Oklahoma; and Ann Bostrom, Weyerhaeuser Endowed Professor in Environmental Policy at the University of Washington.

Members of both parties expressed their concern with changing patterns of extreme weather and questioned witnesses on prevailing weather research and opportunities to improve responsiveness to severe weather events. Much discussion revolved around the role of social and behavioral science research, with Members Randy Weber (R-TX) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) questioning Dr. Bostrom on how to incorporate social and behavioral science research in extreme weather responses and if there were any current gaps or barriers in that research. Other topics discussed during the hearing were the Mesonet environmental monitoring network in Oklahoma, weather infrastructure needs of the Southeastern United States, and potential improvements in government responses to extreme weather events. An opening statement from Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and a recording of the hearing can be found on the SST Committee website.

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NICHD Releases 2020 Strategic Plan

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) released their 2020 strategic plan, a guiding document laying out the institute’s research priorities for the next five years. Earlier this year, COSSA submitted comments on behalf of the social and behavioral science community addressing a draft version of the strategic plan.

The NICHD strategic plan lays out five main research objectives:

  • Understanding the molecular, cellular, and structural basis of development;
  • Promoting gynecologic, andrologic, and reproductive health;
  • Setting the foundation for healthy pregnancies and lifelong wellness;
  • Improving child and adolescent health and the transition to adulthood;
  • Advancing safe and effective therapeutics and devices for pregnant and lactating women, children, and people with disabilities.

The full strategic plan and more information can be found on the NICHD website.

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NIH Evaluates Strategy on Countering Foreign Influence in Research

On September 25, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released three reports addressing efforts to combat the prevalence of foreign influence in research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The OIG reports evaluate three tactics used in NIH’s strategy in securing research from foreign influence in institutional reporting of foreign financial interests and affiliations, reviewing financial conflicts of interest in extramural research, and securing the peer review process from foreign influence. The OIG reports each provide several recommendations to the NIH on how to improve these initiatives.

The strategy comes as a follow up to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins’ August 2018 letter to over 10,000 institutions expressing concern over foreign influence in research settings. You can find previous  coverage on a Congressional hearing concerning foreign influence at NIH on the COSSA website.

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AAAS Accepting Applications for 2020-21 Science & Technology Policy Fellowships

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has announced it is seeking applicants for their Science & Technology Policy Fellowships (STPF) for the 2020-21 fellowship cycle. Eligible candidates should hold a doctoral level science degree or a master’s in engineering, be a U.S. citizen, have solid STEM credentials, have good communication skills, and desire to enhance federal science policy. Applications will be accepted until November 1. More information about the fellowship can be found on the AAAS website.

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National Academies Hosts Official Launch of Decadal Survey for the Social and Behavioral Science for Advancing Intelligence Analysis

The National Academies of Sciences’ Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences (BBCSS) held a report launch event for the Decadal Survey of the Social and Behavioral Science: A Research Agenda for Advancing Intelligence Analysis on September 30. This event brought together members of the survey committee, representatives from the federal government, and research organizations to discuss findings, recommendations, and next steps for collaboration between research communities and the intelligence community. The report was published in March 2019 and was featured on COSSA Headlines in May. The September report launch event will be archived on the BBCSS website.

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