Volume 40 (2021)

American Statistical Association Launches New Monthly Podcast

On January 6, 2021, the American Statistical Association (ASA) announced the debut episode of a new monthly podcast, Practical Significance. The podcast, hosted by Ron Wasserstein, ASA’s Executive Director, and Donna LaLonde, ASA’s Director of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach, will highlight compelling stories from data science and statistics from within ASA’s membership and promote careers in these disciplines. The debut episode features Rob Santos, ASA’s President, discussing his previous work at the Urban Institute, and outlining his goals for his tenure leading the association. The podcast can be listened to on the ASA website. The podcast has also been submitted…

A Message from the Executive Director

Happy New Year! The beginning of a new year, new Congress and new Administration is a busy time under “normal” circumstances. However, as our battle with the COVID-19 pandemic continues and, hopefully, we inch toward some semblance of pre-pandemic life in 2021, we are forced to prioritize what is most important. At COSSA, the crises of the past year have underscored for us the critical importance of our work and mission: “To promote the value of social and behavioral science research to policymakers and the public with the goal of enhancing federal support.” Our efforts over the past year aimed…

COSSA Issues Recommendations for the Incoming Biden Administration

In December, COSSA transmitted a report to the Biden transition team, Putting Social and Behavioral Science to Work for America: 10 Recommendations to the Biden Administration. The report outlines tangible actions the incoming Administration can take to support the U.S. research enterprise and use social science research in support of evidence-based policy making across three themes: (1) Restore Trust in Science and Government Data, (2) Champion Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Science; and (3) Expand the Use of Social and Behavioral Science and Data in Decision-Making. The full document is available on COSSA’s website.

January Headlines to Feature Deep Dive on COSSA’s 2021 Policy Priorities

COSSA members are invited to register for the monthly Headlines webchat on Thursday, January 14 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time. The COSSA team will break down the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month, followed by a deep dive discussion on COSSA’s recommendations to the Biden Administration as well as COSSA’s legislative priorities for the coming year. Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

NSF’s Kellina Craig-Henderson Answers “Why Social Science?”

The latest Why Social Science? post comes from Kellina Craig-Henderson, Deputy Assistant Director of the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Craig-Henderson wrote for NSF’s Science Matters blog about her experiences confronting stereotypes as an African American female scientist and about SBE’s new Build and Broaden program, which directs resources to researchers at minority-serving institutions. Read it here and subscribe.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: 107th Congress Opens, Awaits New Administration (January 15, 2001)

In celebration of COSSA’s 40th anniversary, we are diving into the decades of Washington Update archives to share articles from years past that resonate with today’s news. When we last left you, the country was waiting for the Supreme Court to decide the presidential election and the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2001 remained incomplete. In the intervening month, George W. Bush began putting his administration together, and all 13 FY 2001 spending bills finally became law, 21 Continuing Resolutions later and nearly three months into the fiscal year[…] The 107th Congress opened for business on January 3. Two major…

COSSA Releases Analysis of FY 2021 Appropriations for Science Agencies

As previously reported, before adjourning for the year Congress passed a combined appropriations and coronavirus aid package that provides much needed pandemic relief and will fund the government through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2021 (September 30, 2021). Following several days of uncertainty, President Trump signed the package into law on December 27. COSSA’s full analysis of the final FY 2021 funding bills for federal agencies and programs important to the social and behavioral science research community is now available here. Attention now turns to the 117th Congress which convened on January 3. Lawmakers have begun the process of…

Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act Reintroduced in 117th Congress

On January 5, the House Science, Space, and Technology (SST) Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced the Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act (H.R. 144), legislation that would create a new postdoctoral fellowship program at the National Science Foundation to support early-career researchers whose opportunities have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson and Lucas, who had previously introduced the legislation in the previous Congress, have stated that the goal of the legislation is to prevent the loss of research talent due to any economic disruptions that may have occurred due to the public health…

GAO Releases Review of Federal Agency Policies on Foreign Interference in Research

On December 17, 2020, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report reviewing the policies at five major federal research agencies intended to secure federally funded research from foreign interference. The five agencies under review, the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and National Science Foundation (NSF), were evaluated on their existing policies requiring researchers to disclose foreign conflicts of interest – including non-financial conflicts of interest such as honorary appointments – and their procedures for addressing failures to disclose these conflicts of interest. Findings from…

NIMHD Funding Research on Vaccine Hesitancy and Health Disparities

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a Notice of Special Interest announcing a new funding opportunity for research on hesitancy to participate in vaccines among populations that experience health disparities. The notice seeks submissions on a variety of social and behavioral research questions including evaluating strategies to increase vaccination rates among target communities and methods to address barriers of receiving vaccines among health disparate communities, especially those with a higher risk of experiencing vaccine hesitancy. The first available due date for applications is February 5, 2021, with…

Nominations Open for 2021 Matilda White Riley Honors

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is accepting nominations for a social or behavioral scientist to deliver the keynote address at the Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Science Honors on May 5, 2021. The Matilda White Riley Honors are an annual event recognizing transformative work in the fields of social and behavioral science along with early-career researchers. This year is the second time the event will be hosted virtually. Nominees should have a research career that has “advanced behavioral and social scientific knowledge in areas within NIH’s mission and…

Trump Names New NIFA Director

In December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the appointment of Dr. Carrie Castille as the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Department’s extramural research agency. Dr. Castille has worked on Farm Production and Conservation as well as Rural Development within USDA and previously served as an Assistant Professor of Agriculture at Louisiana State University. Dr. Castille’s six-year term began on January 4, 2021. She succeeds Acting Director Parag Chitnis, who led the agency following J. Scott Angle’s departure in July 2020, two years into his six-year term.

HHS Seeking Nominations for Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections

The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is soliciting nominations for the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP), the advisory body to the HHS Secretary on policies protecting the safety of human participants in research. OHRP is seeking nominations for four positions on the Committee that will be opening during the 2021 and 2022 calendar years. More information and nomination instructions are available in the Federal Register.

AAPSS to Hold Webinar on the Impact of Inequality on Democracy

The American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS), a COSSA member, will host a virtual conversation “Can Democracy Survive Growing Inequality?” on Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 1:00 pm Eastern time.  New York Times columnist David Leonhardt will moderate a conversation with the 2020 AAPSS Fellows: Katherine Cramer, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Eric Foner, Columbia University; Helen Milner, Princeton University; Mario Luis Small, Harvard University and Bruce Western, Columbia University. The discussion will take stock of the current state of racial and socioeconomic inequality in the United States and around the world and suggest public policy opportunities for the…


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