Executive Branch News

Nominations Open for Distinguished Lecturer at the 17th Matilda White Riley Honors

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is accepting nominations for an outstanding social-behavioral scientist as candidates for Distinguished Lecturer at the 17th Matilda White Riley Honors. 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. Nominees should have a research career that has “advanced behavioral and social scientific knowledge in areas within NIH’s mission and that expands upon Dr. White Riley’s work.” Nominees need not have NIH funding. More information is available on the OBSSR website. Nominee information should…

NSF Announces New ReDDDoT Program

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has launched the Responsible Design, Development, and Deployment of Technologies (ReDDDoT) program, calling for multidisciplinary, multi-sector teams to explore responsible technological innovation. This program aims to embed ethical, legal, and societal considerations into the lifecycle of technology development, with an emphasis on the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 goal of fostering partnerships across academia, industry, and non-profits (see previous COSSA coverage). With a budget of $16 million, subject to the availability of funds, the NSF anticipates making 28 to 36 awards through this program. If interested in participating, learn more here.

NIH Requests Comments on Strategic Plan for Data Science

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a request for information (RFI) on their draft Strategic Plan for Data Science. As previously reported by COSSA, the NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science was initially released in 2018. The plan is intended to address advances in data collection, including the increase in quantity and diversity within data, and support data science as a tool for understanding health sciences. In the draft, NIH outlines five goals, including aims to improve NIH policy for data collection, maximize data for research, expand opportunities in data collection services, including artificial intelligence (AI), support a federal biomedical research data…

OBSSR Opens Applications for Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research

The Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) within the National Institute of Health (NIH) is currently accepting proposals for the Career Enhancement Award to Advance Research on Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention grant program. Applications should focus on firearm injury and mortality prevention research with topics in areas such as accidental injury, intimate partner/dating violence, youth violence, and more. Applications are due March 15.

Census Bureau Seeks Nominations for Scientific Advisory Committee

The Census Bureau is seeking nominations for their Scientific Advisory Committee. The Census Bureau’s Scientific Advisory Committee advises the director of the Census Bureau on programs and activities, policies, research, surveys, and other items as needed. Committee members will be expected to serve a three-year term and to have experience in one of the following fields: communications, demographic, economic, field operations, geography, information technology, and statistics. The Bureau is especially interested in people with experience in survey methodology, information technology, computer science and engineering, geography, psychology, business/finance, sociology, and marketing. Nominations are due February 2 and should be emailed to census.scientific.advisory.committee@census.gov with the subject…

NCSES Releases Knowledge Base to Improve Understanding of Data

The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) in the National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a Knowledge Base, a new user resource on NCSES tools and data. The website provides robust information on how to understand and use NCSES data as well as answers to frequently asked questions and a glossary for commonly used terms. The Knowledge Base is intended to help people navigate NCSES data while simultaneously providing support in an easy and accessible way. This resource comes as NCSES works towards making their data more available for public use. Questions can be sent to ncsesdata@nsf.gov. 

Tess deBlanc-Knowles Appointed as Special Assistant to the Director for AI at NSF

On December 12, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the appointment of Tess deBlanc-Knowles as the new Special Assistant to the Director for Artificial Intelligence. Alongside this role, she’ll continue her duties within NSF’s Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships as Strategic Advisor for Technology Policy and Strategy. As a former OSTP Senior Policy Advisor, deBlanc-Knowles led policy efforts to strengthen the nation’s AI innovation by co-chairing the National AI Research Resource Task Force, oversaw the the National AI Research and Development Strategic Plan: 2023 Update and led the process in crafting the nation’s first strategy to advance privacy-enhancing technologies. Now, as the lead in the…

NSF Unveils First-Ever Accelerating Research Translation Awards to Boost Economic Growth Through Academic Research

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced its first-ever investment in the Accelerating Research Translation (ART) initiative. More than $100 million will be dedicated to 18 teams at academic institutions nationwide to accelerate the pace and scale of translational research aimed to foster economic growth across the nation. The ART program is set to award up to $6 million over four years to each selected institution. These funds will be used to identify and develop academic research with potential for technology transfer, ensure the availability of staff with technology transfer expertise, and support the education and training of entrepreneurial faculty…

NCSES Opens Applications for Two New Postdoctoral Fellowship Opportunities

The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) has announced two new postdoctoral fellowships. These fellowships are designed to support recent doctoral graduates interested in the study of ethical and responsible research. Each program offers one slot for a dedicated and passionate fellow: Applications are due January 24 and can be submitted here.

OBSSR Hosts Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival

On December 5, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) held their annual Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival. The festival highlighted various research areas supported by the office and the full agenda can be found here. In her opening remarks, newly appointed OBBSR Director Jane Simoni identified the office’s scientific interests for 2024, including theory-informed research on behavior change and mechanisms of impact, social connection and health, multi-level research, health communication science, and the integration of BSSR into biomedical research (see previous COSSA coverage). The recording of the festival is expected to be published here within…

NSF Announces EducateAI for Nationwide AI Education

The National Science Foundation (NSF) launched EducateAI, an initiative aimed at enhancing artificial intelligence (AI) education across the United States. This program targets a broad audience, from K-12 to graduate students and adults seeking formal AI training. The initiative’s core objective is to empower educators and students with essential AI knowledge and skills, fostering an inclusive environment for learning about AI technology. The initiative’s first step involves publishing the EducateAI Dear Colleague Letter, calling for proposals that advance inclusive computing education and integrate innovative AI-focused curricula. Funded by NSF’s CISE and STEM Education directorates, the call for proposals seeks to develop comprehensive…

OSTP Investigates the Costs of Open Access Publishing

On November 22, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published a report exploring the impact for covering the cost of openly publishing federally-funded research. The report outlines multiple challenges endured by federal grantees and intramural researchers, but estimates that in 2021 the cost was roughly $378 million. Congress requested the report through its appropriations legislation for fiscal year (FY) 2023, citing concerns that some open access publishing financing mechanisms, particularly total article processing fees (APCs) and transformative agreements, may “present growing barriers to knowledge generation and sharing.” Congress asked OSTP to estimate how much of the costs of both APCs and transformative agreements…

NSF Signs Memorandum of Understanding with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

On November 14, Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan, Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The agreement is intended to foster a collaborative research partnership between the United States and Canada on various subjects including artificial intelligence (AI), healthcare, climate change, and more, through building on current projects and developing new opportunities. Some of these current projects include the NSF-led Global Centers, the NSERC-NSF AI/Quantum Lead Agency Opportunity, and the Canadian-led New Frontiers in Research Fund. Stay tuned to COSSA for continued coverage. 

Biden Administration Appoints New NCI Director

On November 17, the Biden Administration announced intent to appoint Dr. W. Kimryn Rathmell as Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The position was previously held by Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, the recently confirmed Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (see previous COSSA coverage). Dr. Rathmell currently serves as the Physician-in-Chief and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She received her PhD in biophysics and her M.D. from Stanford University following a Bachelor of Science in biology and chemistry from the University of Iowa. Dr. Rathmell also served as an internal medicine resident, fellow…

OSTP to Address Climate Change and Environmental Injustice as Social Determinants of Health

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released The U.S. Playbook to Address Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) to address social and environmental impacts on public health. The Biden Administration recognizes that addressing public health needs requires a multidisciplinary approach and has expressed their commitment to doing so. SDOH addresses important issues such as housing and food security, education access, and a healthy environment. It recognizes three pillars as a starting point for addressing these topics, including improving data collection in health care, public health, social care services, and other data systems, providing funding to address social needs, and…

White House Announces Initiative on Women’s Health Research

On November 13, the White House and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden announced a new initiative to advance women’s health research, recognizing gaps in funding for this research as a barrier to accessible healthcare for women. The Initiative on Women’s Health Research will be led by Dr. Biden and newly appointed Chair Dr. Carolyn Mazure, a previous National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellow and researcher at Yale University. Dr. Biden highlighted the importance of the new initiative, stating that “there’s just not enough research yet on how to best manage and treat even common women’s health conditions
Our new White House Initiative on…

Monica Bertagnolli Confirmed as NIH Director

On November 7, Dr. Monica Bertagnolli was confirmed by the Senate as the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director in a bipartisan 62-36 vote after having been nominated by the Biden Administration in May and experiencing several deterrents from Senators, including Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), who requested Bertagnolli address pharmaceutical drug prices (see previous COSSA coverage). Despite her challenging confirmation process, Bertagnolli will be the 17th Director of the NIH following a two-year gap in leadership with Dr. Lawrence Tabak as Acting Director (see previous COSSA coverage). Following her confirmation, Bertagnolli stated, “As…

OMB Seeks Public Comment on AI Governance Memorandum

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced an open call for public comment on draft memorandum “Advancing Governance, Innovation, and Risk Management for Agency Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).” This initiative seeks to establish new requirements for federal agencies in AI governance, innovation, and risk management. The proposed memorandum is designed to direct agencies towards adopting specific minimum risk management practices, particularly for AI applications that could impact public safety and individual rights. OMB encourages feedback on various aspects, such as recommending roles and responsibilities for Chief AI Officers across federal agencies, effective coordination methods for AI Governance Bodies,…

Special Assistant Appointed to the NSF Director for Sexual Assault and Harassment Prevention and Response Implementation

On November 2, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the appointment of RenĂ©e V. Ferranti as the special assistant to the NSF director for sexual assault and harassment prevention and response implementation. In this new role, Ferranti will lead cross-agency efforts, implement sexual assault prevention policies, and recommend organizational improvements by providing expert evaluation of existing policies, procedures, and resources. Establishing this role is the most recent measure in the agency’s ongoing initiatives to address and prevent sexual assault and harassment (see previous COSSA coverage). Ferranti has over 25 years of experience in sexual assault prevention and response. She previously served as the director of…

President Biden Issues Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence

On October 10, President Biden unveiled a groundbreaking Executive Order (EO), setting the stage for the United States to lead in harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) while effectively managing its risks. This EO builds upon existing commitments from 15 major companies, showcasing a united front in the pursuit of safe and trustworthy AI development that addresses 8 critical areas: This EO represents a significant stride toward ensuring that AI development and use are safe, secure, and beneficial for all Americans. It addresses critical aspects ranging from safety and security to privacy, equity, and leadership on both domestic and international fronts….

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