Issue 03 (February 4)


COSSA Releases 2020 Rankings of College and University Social Science Investment

On January 29, COSSA released its 2019 College and University Rankings for Federal Social and Behavioral R&D, which highlight the top university recipients of federal research dollars in the social and behavioral sciences. This year’s rankings feature a dashboard with an interactive map of recipients of social and behavioral science R&D funding so you can see how your university stacks up among more than 500 U.S. institutions. Based on the most recent available federal data, the COSSA rankings use an inclusive selection of fields representing the breadth of the social and behavioral sciences to calculate the total federal R&D funding received by universities in the social and behavioral sciences. More information on how the rankings are produced is available on the COSSA website.

The top 10 recipients for 2020 are:

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill* (NC) – $132,574,000 (#1 in 2019)
  2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor* (MI) – $108,666,000 (#2 in 2019)
  3. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities* (MN) – $47,121,000 (#3 in 2019)
  4. University of Maryland, College Park* (MD) – $45,712,000 (#4 in 2019)
  5. University of Southern California (CA) – $34,943,000 (#9 in 2019)
  6. University of Washington, Seattle (WA) – $33,484,000 (#6 in 2019)
  7. Arizona State University (AZ) – $33,327,000 (#12 in 2019)
  8. Pennsylvania State University, University Park and Hershey Medical Center* (PA) – $33,313,000 (#5 in 2019)
  9. Boston University* (MA) – $31,900,000 (#25 in 2019)
  10. New York University (NY) – $30,155,000 (#8 in 2019)

* Indicates COSSA members

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In response to a request for information (RFI) from the Joint Committee on the Research Environment (JCORE) (see previous coverage), COSSA submitted a collection of resources produced by its member associations relevant to JCORE’s four primary areas of interest: (1) Research Rigor and Integrity; (2) Coordinating Administrative Requirements for Research; (3) Research Security; and (4) Safe and Inclusive Research Environments. As COSSA’s letter states, “Given [the social sciences’] focus on the human condition across multiple scales, it is not surprising that our sciences have a lot to say about the topics of interest to JCORE.” The document is intended to inform the Trump Administration’s work in these important areas as well as communicate the expertise that already exists within many social and behavioral science fields. The letter is available on COSSA’s website.

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Early Bird Pricing for Social Science Advocacy Day Extended through Feb. 14

Advocacy Day 2020 HeaderThe deadline for early bird registration for COSSA’s 2020 Social Science Advocacy Day has been extended through Friday, February 14. COSSA members can take advantage of this opportunity to register for only $75. COSSA’s annual spring event will include a kickoff session featuring special guest speakers (to be announced in the coming weeks), a half-day of intensive context setting and advocacy preparation, COSSA’s annual Celebration of Social Science Rooftop Reception, and a full day of meetings on Capitol Hill. Advocacy Day is open exclusively to individuals employed by or affiliated with COSSA member organizations. Individuals from non-member organizations can learn more about how their organization can join COSSA here.

Graduate and undergraduate students are eligible to register for a reduced rate of $25. To receive the student discount, email with your COSSA member organization and/or university, degree program, field of study, and anticipated year of graduation.

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Still Time to Register for February’s Headlines Webchat on the President’s Budget Request

headlines bannerCOSSA members are encouraged to sign up for the monthly Headlines webchat on Thursday, February 13. The COSSA team will break down the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month and answer your questions. The February chat will feature a deep dive discussion on the Trump Administration’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2021, scheduled to be released on February 10. Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

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Cassandra R. Davis, UNC Public Policy Professor, Answers “Why Social Science?”

why-social-scienceThe latest Why Social Science? guest post comes from Cassandra R. Davis, Research Assistant Professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Department of Public Policy, who writes about her research on the impact of natural disasters on students’ education. Read it here and subscribe.

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House Republicans Introduce Bill to Reauthorize Science Agencies

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced the Securing American Leadership in Science and Technology Act (H.R. 5685), a bill to reauthorize science agencies, on January 29. Science Committee Democrats are working on their own science agency reauthorization legislation, but details have not yet been released for the agencies most important to the social sciences. COSSA will report on the majority’s proposals when they are released.

The Republicans’ legislation proposes doubling basic research funding over the next ten years at the Department of Energy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The legislation also includes support for clean energy infrastructure, resources for growing the STEM workforce, and modernization of Antarctic science and conservation programs.

The minority’s bill would increase NSF’s budget, which is currently just over $8 billion, to more than $14 billion by 2029 and recognizes the importance of the agency’s support for fundamental research across all disciplines of science and engineering. Additionally, the bill directs NSF to undergo several specific activities including, developing ethics and security plans for research, supporting more mid-scale research infrastructure, and awarding grants to support research and training related to scientific reproducibility. The bill also proposes an external review of NSF’s structure and support for cross-disciplinary research.

While the bill includes several marked changes from Republican science reauthorization proposals of the past, it is not likely to be taken up by the Science, Space, and Technology Committee or the full House of Representatives, which are both under Democratic control. However, it is possible that provisions from the Republican bill could make it into legislation developed by the Democrats. More information about the bill and a copy of the legislation, can be viewed on the Science Committee Republican’s website.

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House Passes Bill on Suicide Prevention Research

On January 27, the House of Representatives passed the Advancing Research to Prevent Suicide Act (H.R. 4704) by a vote of 385 to 8. The bill, sponsored by freshman Member Ben McAdams (D-UT), would direct the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund cross-disciplinary research—including research in the social and behavioral sciences—focused on preventing suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Additionally, the bill enables NSF to collaborate with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund research grants on suicide prevention and promote the professional development of suicide prevention researchers. Although the bill was passed by the Democrat-controlled House, it is unlikely to gain traction with the Republican-controlled Senate and will likely not become law.

The full text of the bill is available online. More information can be found on McAdams’ website.

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NSF Hosting Symposium to Celebrate 70th Anniversary

The National Science Foundation (NSF) will host a symposium on February 6 and 7 to begin a year-long commemoration of NSF’s 70th anniversary. The symposium will take place at NSF’s Alexandria, Virginia headquarters and will also be webcast. The two-day event will feature past and present NSF Directors, Waterman award winners, and leaders from academia and industry. More information, the event agenda, and details about how to attend are available on NSF’s website.

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NCHS Releases First Estimate of Maternal Mortality in 13 Years

NCHS recently released its final 2018 mortality data, which includes the first official estimate of maternal mortality since 2007. NCHS suspended annual estimates of the maternal mortality rate (defined as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of pregnancy) due to inconsistencies and errors in state death records. To create the new estimates, NCHS performed an analysis of the use of checkboxes indicating current or recent pregnancy that had been added to the standard death certificate and revised its coding procedures to ensure that it was sufficiently accounting for potential errors.

Thanks to this work, NCHS determined that the average U.S. maternal mortality rate is 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, and that the rate is significantly higher among non-Hispanic Black women (37.1 per 100,000 live births) compared to non-Hispanic and Hispanic white woman. While the new maternal mortality rate is more than double the rate reported before NCHS ended its estimates, it determined that the increase in reported rates is almost entirely because of changes in reporting methods. According to NCHS’s evaluations, the maternal mortality rate has not significantly changed since 1999. Going forward, NCHS will include annual estimates of maternal mortality with its overall annual mortality data.

NCHS released three reports accompanying its new data: (1) Evaluation of the Pregnancy Status Checkbox on the Identification of Maternal Deaths; (2) Impact of the Pregnancy Checkbox and Misclassification on Maternal Mortality Trends in the United States, 1999—2017; and (3) Maternal Mortality in the United States: Changes in Coding, Publication, and Data Release, 2018.

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NIMHD Names Psychologist Monica Webb Hooper Deputy Director

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced the selection of Dr. Monica Webb Hooper as its new Deputy Director. Dr. Webb Hooper comes from Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, where she is a professor of oncology, family medicine, and psychological sciences. She has also served as Associate Director for Cancer Disparities Research and Director of the Office of Cancer Disparities Research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. She comes to NIMHD with years of expertise in minority health and cancer-related health disparities spanning multiple disadvantaged populations. Dr. Webb Hooper will begin her appointment as Deputy Director on March 15, 2020. More information is available on the NIMHD website.

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Defense Health Program Releases Anticipated Funding Opportunities for Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program

On  January 10, the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) of the Defense Health Program at the Department of Defense released a pre-announcement of its fiscal year (FY) 2020 anticipated funding opportunities and topic areas. Topic areas include eating disorders, resilience training, and sleep disorders, among others. PRMRP supports research projects to improve the health, care, and well-being of all military service members, veterans, and beneficiaries and grant proposals must address at least one of the pre-determined topic areas. More information can be found on the Defense Health Program website.

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Analysis Finds that STEM Supports Two Thirds of U.S. Jobs

A new analysis released on January 28 found that 67 percent of U.S. jobs and 69 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) are supported by science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The analysis, conducted by FTI Consulting on behalf of 10 leading U.S. scientific, engineering and industry organizations, including COSSA, found that STEM supports an outsized share of the U.S. economy and produces $2.3 trillion in federal tax revenue annually.

The analysis—STEM and the American Workforce—takes one of the most inclusive views of the scientific workforce to date, factoring in jobs that rely on STEM fields regardless of the level of education obtained by the employee and finds that six in ten U.S. STEM professionals do not hold a bachelor’s degree. A link to the press release and analysis can be found here.

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