Issue 20 (October 13)


Get Out the Vote with “Vote Science Strong”

Research!America, a DC-based advocacy organization working in support of health and medical research, has partnered with several scientific organizations on a website aimed at equipping the scientific community with resources to help make informed decisions at the polls this November. Vote Science Strong seeks to make scientific research—across all domains—part of the conversation in this year’s elections. It includes several different tools to help scientists engage with candidates, such as through town hall meetings and social media, and includes factsheets on the benefits of research to various aspects of life. Help amplify science in this year’s elections by visiting Vote Science Strong and sharing the resources with your colleagues.

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CJRA and COSSA to Host “Ask a Criminologist” Virtual Briefing on Police and Community Relations

COSSA and the Crime & Justice Research Alliance (CJRA) (a collaborative effort of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and the American Society of Criminology, both COSSA members) will host the next in a series of “Ask a Criminologist” Congressional briefings on Wednesday October 21 at 3:00 pm ET. This interactive briefing will focus on the intersection between law enforcement and residents during an extremely complicated time. Panelists will include Dr. Jennifer Cobbina, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University; Dr. Rod Brunson, Thomas O’Neill Chair of Criminology at Northeastern University; and Dr. Everette Penn, Professor of Criminal Justice at University of Houston Clear Lake and founder of the Teen and Public Service Center. The panel will be moderated by Dr. William V. Pelfrey, Jr., Professor of Criminal Justice in the Wilder School at Virginia Commonwealth University. The briefing will be accessible through Zoom via this link or by watching the livestream here.

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COSSA and NIH Minority Health Institute Discuss COVID-19 Response

On September 23 as a member of the steering committee of the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, COSSA Executive Director Wendy Naus participated in a webinar (video recording) for Congressional staff featuring a discussion with Dr. Eliseo Perez-Stable, Director of the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The webinar is the first in a series organized by the Ad Hoc Group and the Coalition for Health Funding aimed at raising the visibility of NIH’s individual institutes and centers on Capitol Hill, specifically as their work relates to COVID-19 response. A second webinar featuring the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) occurred on September 30 (video recording). Videos from future webinars will be shared as they are released.

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FY 2021 Begins Under a CR; COVID Relief Negotiations Up in the Air

Federal fiscal year (FY) 2021 officially began on October 1. As previously reported, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) last month keeping the government operating past the November elections until December 11; the President has since signed the CR into law. What this means for FY 2021 science funding is unknown. The lame-duck Congress will return after the election and may attempt to finalize FY 2021 spending, or pass another CR kicking the responsibility to the next Congress that will be seated in January. The fate of funding largely lies in the outcome of the Congressional and Presidential elections and which party will hold the majority in Congress and the White House come January. You can follow COSSA’s coverage of FY 2021 science funding, including actions taken to date, on our website.

In other news, negotiations on the next round of COVID-19 relief have all but fallen apart, with the President calling on his surrogates to end negotiations with Congress until after the elections, and then reversing course and urging passage of a large relief package. Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over the amount of supplemental funding needed, signaling that a deal before the November elections is unlikely. You can follow COSSA’s COVID-19 coverage on our website.

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House Science Committee Holds Hearing on Research Needs for Coping with Compound Crises

On September 30, the Environment Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on “Coping with Compound Crises: Extreme Weather, Social Injustice, and a Global Pandemic.” The hearing featured the testimony of Dr. Roxane Cohen Silver, Professor of Psychological Science, Medicine, and Public Health, University of California, Irvine; and Dr. Samantha Montano, Assistant Professor of Emergency Management, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, each who spoke about the need for rapid federal research funding to support social research in the immediate aftermath of disasters and other crises. Members of the committee from both sides of the aisle, including Environment Subcommittee Chair Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), full Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), full Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), reiterated the importance of the social and behavioral sciences in helping us to better understand how to more effectively recover from disasters and prevent them from taking a toll on human lives and property in the future. A recording of the hearing and testimony from the witnesses is available on the Science Committee website.

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House Elections Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Combatting Misinformation in the 2020 Election

On October 6, the Subcommittee on Elections of the Committee on House Administration (CHA) held a public hearing on voting rights and combatting misinformation during the upcoming 2020 election. The Committee heard testimony from Member of the Board of Elections of Cuyahoga County in Ohio Inajo Davis Chappel, Secretary of State of Colorado Jena Griswold, Commissioner of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Benjamin Hovland, and President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Spencer Overton. No Republican members of the Subcommittee attended the hearing.

Witnesses and participating Members of Congress discussed various dangers of misinformation and its effect on U.S. elections, including the role of social media in spreading misinformation, available resources for governments to combat misinformation, viable methods to educate voters about misinformation, and current misinformation surrounding voting such as the validity of mail-in ballots. A full recording of the hearing is available on the Committee website.

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Fight for Accurate Census Continues Even as Counting Wraps Up

The 2020 Census has been sent to the Supreme Court yet again, this time over the Administration’s plans to end field enumeration and non-response follow-up efforts early and to rush the timeline for producing Constitutionally-mandated redistricting and reapportionment data. As previously reported, a federal judge required counting efforts for the 2020 Census to continue until the end of October. The Administration has appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court to allow it to end enumeration activities as soon as possible in order to shift the operation to producing data by the end-of-year statutory deadline.

Many Census experts—including the Census Bureau itself—have said that it is all but impossible to produce these data accurately within the statutorily-set timeframe and have urged the Bureau to take more time to produce complete counts for redistricting and reapportionment.

Meanwhile, Congress could resolve this uncertainty by passing legislation that extends the deadlines—as had been originally requested by the Trump Administration and proposed in COVID-19 relief and standalone legislation. However, with negotiations on COVID-19 packages stuttering and Congress leaving for the election, progress seems unlikely before the Court has the opportunity to weigh in. We will continue to follow this closely and report on new developments.

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NIH Encourages Participation in Surveys on Impacts of COVID-19 on Extramural Research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) plans to distribute a pair of surveys to gather data on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on extramural research, according to an October 5 blog post from Mike Lauer, NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research. The first survey, the Institutions Survey, will attempt to understand challenges facing research institutions during the pandemic. The second survey, the Researchers Survey, will attempt to understand how the pandemic impacts individual researchers at NIH-funded institutions. Links to participate in the surveys will be sent to select email addresses at research institutions and will be open through the end of October. If you or your institution are among those contacted, you are strongly encouraged to participate so we may gain a greater understanding of the full impact of the pandemic on NIH-funded research. More information is available on the NIH website.

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NIH Announces Modernization of Search and Analysis Tools

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have announced the launch of the new and modernized RePORT (Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools) website and simplified RePORTER search tool. The RePORT website was originally launched ten years ago as a platform to search for and analyze data about NIH research activities and included several tools such as RePORTER to quickly find relevant information about specific projects. Both the RePORT website and the RePORTER tool have been updated to be more user-friendly and better meet needs based on user feedback. New functions include a modified quick search, search result filters, data visualizations, improved advanced search functions, and the ability to download more selective data. The classic version of RePORTER will still be available for users who prefer the older format. Read the blog post for more details.

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Office of Evaluation Sciences Seeks Fellows for 2021

The Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) at the General Services Administration is currently accepting applications for a yearlong fellowship beginning in fall 2021 (based in Washington, DC with some flexibility based on the COVID-19 pandemic). OES is a team of applied researchers that works to build insights from the social and behavioral sciences into federal programs. OES designs, implements, and analyzes evidence-based interventions and randomized evaluations. Fellows shape their own high-impact portfolio of work, design and direct projects, and author academic publications. For 2021, applications are being sought for Fellows, more junior Associate Fellows, and Health Fellows with expertise in health policy. The deadline to submit applications is December 13. The full solicitation is available here and applications can be submitted by completing this form.

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Symposium Highlights New Social Science Research on COVID-19

On October 9, the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in collaboration with COSSA, the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, the Federation Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and SAGE Publishing held a seminar on “Responding to COVID-19: Emerging Insights from Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences.” The event included brief presentations from social scientists engaged in research on the impacts of COVID-19 and breakout sessions that paired these scientists and other experts with policymakers engaged in responding to the pandemic.

The first session, focused on education and health, began with a presentation from Dr. Abram Wagner, Research Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, who described his work on vaccine hesitancy in diverse communities and the potential implications for a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Roxane Cohen Silver, Professor of Psychological Science, Medicine, and Public Health at the University of California Irvine School of Social Ecology, shared her research on the collective trauma of COVID-19 and the association between stress and media coverage of the pandemic. Dr. Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Professor of Globalization and Education at NYU Steinhardt, discussed the research he has conducted on interventions to address educational disparities during the pandemic, such as integrating community supports and services into schools.

The second session featured research on the economy and workforce. It began with a presentation from Dr. Jeffrey C. Johnson, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida, who talked about the disruption on food supply chains and the ways the pandemic has reshaped the business models of independent restaurants and restaurant suppliers in particular. Dr. Enrica Ruggs, Assistant Professor of Management and the University of Memphis Fogelman College, shared details of her research on the ways the pandemic has impacted the working lives of people of color and other historically marginalized groups differently by exacerbating existing disparities. Lastly, Dr. Judy Chevalier, Professor of Finance and Economics at the Yale School of Management, shared details of her research using commercial cell phone data to follow the movements of nursing home staff and develop an understanding of the potential transmission networks between nursing homes.

A recording of the event will be made available on the National Academies website.

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Sunshine Hillygus Delivers 2020 Henry and Bryna David Lecture on Young Voter Behavior

On October 5, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) featured Dr. Sunshine Hillygus as the 2020 Henry and Bryna David Lecturer. A political scientist from Duke University, Dr. Hillygus spoke on the participation of young voters in the United States and how current barriers and opportunities to mobilize young voters could shape the nature of U.S. elections.

The Henry and Bryna David Lecture honors a leading innovator in the behavioral and social sciences who is invited to deliver the eponymous lecture and publish an article in Issues in Science and Technology magazine based on that lecture. A video recording of the Henry and Bryna David Lecture will typically be available on the National Academies website within a few weeks after the event.

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Jennifer Richeson Receives 2020 SAGE-CASBS Award

SAGE Publishing and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University, both COSSA members, announced Jennifer Richeson, a social psychologist at Yale University, as the recipient of the 2020 SAGE-CASBS award. The SAGE-CASBS Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the behavioral and social sciences that advance our understanding of pressing social issues. According to the award announcement, Richeson’s “insights on how people experience, reason about, and respond to sociocultural diversity and racial discrimination significantly advance our understanding of intergroup relations.” Richeson will deliver an award lecture at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences on a date to be announced later.

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AERA to Host Virtual Brown Lecture on the “Segregation Pandemic”

The American Educational Research Association (AERA), a COSSA governing member, will host its annual Brown Lecture in Education Research virtually on October 22 at 6:00 pm ET. The 2020 lecture is entitled “The Segregation Pandemic: Brown as Treatment or Placebo?” and will be delivered by William F. Tate IV, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at the University of South Carolina, and a leading expert on the intersections between education, society, and public health. The Annual Brown Lecture in Education Research commemorates the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education and is designed to feature the important role of research in advancing understanding of equality and equity in education. Registration and more information on the event is available here.

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