Science Community News

NRC Roundtable Discusses Need for Improved Public Understanding of Social Science Research

On January 8, the National Research Council (NRC) Roundtable on the Application of Social and Behavioral Science Research convened its first meeting. Chaired by Arthur “Skip” Lupia from the University of Michigan, the Roundtable brings together a diverse set of stakeholders in the social and behavioral science community to discuss ways to improve public understanding of social science research as well as the research community’s understanding of the uses of research by various sectors, such as industry, military, or public health. Membership includes “those who create SBS research, those who use it, and those who know how to communicate about…

Gilbert White Lecture Focuses on Reducing Losses from Natural Hazards

The National Academies’ Board on Earth Sciences and Resources held its annual Gilbert F. White Lecture in the Geographical Sciences on December 4. Susan Cutter, Distinguished Carolina Professor at the University of South Carolina (and a past president of COSSA), delivered the lecture, which focused on “Why More Knowledge Is Not Reducing Natural Hazard Losses.” She explained that despite huge increases in our knowledge of the physical processes and social forces that interact during natural disasters, losses from such events have only grown.

ERS Reports on Fast Food Purchasing Behavior

The Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has released a report, “The Role of Time in Fast-Food Purchasing Behavior in the United States,” which examines the factors impacting how Americans consume fast food. The study, conducted using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, assessed the impact of time-use behaviors, prices, sociodemographic characteristics, and labor-force participation on fast food purchases. It finds that those who purchase fast food on a given day spend less time engaged in “primary” eating (eating while not doing something else), sleeping, doing housework, and watching television than the population average….

AHRQ Data Shows 50,000 Lives, $12 Billion Saved

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released a report, “Interim Update on 2013 Annual Hospital-Acquired Condition Rate and Estimates of Cost Savings and Deaths Averted From 2010 to 2013” which provides preliminary 2013 estimates for hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), which include adverse events like falls, pressure ulcers, infections, and adverse drug events acquired during a patient’s hospital stay. The report finds a 17 percent decline in HACs from 2010 to 2013, equaling 1.3 million fewer patient harms over the three years. The decline also resulted in 50,000 fewer patients dying in a hospital as a result of a HAC,…

NCHS Releases Report on Drug Overdose Deaths

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released a report on “Trends in Drug-poisoning Deaths Involving Opioid Analgesics and Heroin: United States, 1999–2012,” based on data from the National Vital Statistics System’s multiple-causes-of-death mortality files. The report shows that between 1999 and 2012, the drug overdose (or drug poisoning) death rate more than doubled. The rate of death in evolving heroin nearly tripled. And while the drug poisoning rate involving opioid analgesics more than tripled over this period, it did decrease by five percent between 2011 and 2012—the first decrease in more than a decade. The states with the highest…

Leiden Statement: “Social Sciences and Humanities Indispensable to Understanding and Addressing Global Challenges”

“The social sciences and humanities are indispensable to understanding and addressing contemporary global challenges, and to grasping emerging opportunities. Every challenge the world faces has a human dimension, and no solution can be achieved without enlisting the support and efforts of individuals, communities and societies,” according to the Leiden Statement: The Role of the Social Sciences and Humanities in the Global Research Landscape, released in November. The Statement’s signatories are the League of European Research Universities (LERU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the China 9 grouping of leading Chinese universities (C9), the Australian Group of Eight research-intensive universities (Go8),…

Academies Board Seeks Nominations for “How People Learn II” Study Committee

The National Academies’ Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences (BBCSS) is seeking nominations for individuals to serve on the study committee for a new project, “How People Learn II: The Science and Practice of Learning.” The study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, will build on the 2000 National Research Council report How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School “by reviewing and synthesizing research that has emerged across the various disciplines that focus on the study of learning from birth through adulthood in both…

Policy Roundtable Seminar Focuses on Stimulating Innovation in Government

The National Academies’ Policy Roundtable of the Behavioral and Social Sciences held a seminar on October 30 focused on “Stimulating Effective Innovation in Government.” The Roundtable is chaired by David T. Ellwood of the Harvard Kennedy School and, beginning in 2015, will be directed by Arlene Lee, Director of the Committee on Law and Justice. For more on the Roundtable, see COSSA’s coverage of its last meeting. Roundtable members are government users and producers of social and behavioral science research and behavioral social and scientists who have spent time in the government (the list of members is available on the…

IOM Recommends Including Social/Behavioral Determinants in Electronic Health Records

On November 13, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released Capturing Social and Behavioral Domains and Measures in Electronic Health Records: Phase 2, which recommends a “concrete approach to including social and behavioral determinants in the clinical context to increase clinical awareness of the patient’s state, broadly considered, and to connect clinical, public health, and community resources for work in concert.” The report’s recommendations takes into consideration the “substantial empirical evidence of the contribution of social and behavioral factors to functional status and the onset, progression, and effective treatment of disease [that] has accumulated over the past four decades.”

National Science Board Launches New STEM Education Resource

On October 28, the National Science Board released a new online resource, STEM Education Resource, where the public can access data on the STEM workforce, including college degrees in STEM fields and jobs in science-related occupations. The interactive tool provides data points, graphics, maps, and other resources to allow users to learn about national trends in STEM, connecting them to the data in the 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators produced by the National Science Board. Check out the tool here. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

National Academies SBS Policy Roundtable Meeting, “Stimulating Effective Innovation in Government” — October 30

The National Academies Policy Roundtable of the Behavioral and Social Sciences will conduct at its next meeting a seminar and discussion on stimulating effective innovation in government. The seminar will be held from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 30, 2014, in Room 120 of the National Academy of Sciences building at 21st and Constitution Avenue, N.W. The Policy Roundtable is chaired by David Ellwood, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School.

2015 MCAT Includes New Social and Behavioral Sciences Section

Starting in spring 2015, the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) will test prospective medical students’ knowledge of the social and behavioral sciences. The MCAT2015, the first update to the MCAT since 1992, includes a new section on “Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior.” The section is weighted equally to the two other subject-knowledge sections, “Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems” and “Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems,” in terms of length and number of questions (a fourth section on critical analysis is shorter).

Roundtable on Health Literacy Seeks Nominations for New Members

The Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Health Literacy is seeking nominations for new members. Specifically, it is seeking health literacy experts from a variety of fields including nursing, pediatrics, pharmacy, primary care, public or population health, research, and transformative technologies. The Roundtable was established in 2005 to build upon the work of the IOM consensus report, Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion. It is composed of leaders from academia, industry, government, foundations and associations, and representatives of patient and consumer interests who have an interest and role in improving health literacy. The Roundtable’s mission is to inform, inspire, and…

Henry and Bryna David Lecturer Proposes “International Climate Club”

Economist William D. Nordhaus delivered the 2014 Henry and Bryna David Lecture at the National Academy of Sciences on October 2. Nordhaus is the Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University and will chair the Boston Federal Reserve Bank for 2014-2015. The topic of his lecture was “Climate Clubs: How to prevent free-riding in international environmental agreements.”

Social Scientists Honored for “Golden Goose” Ideas

On September 18, eight scientists were honored with the Golden Goose Award at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The Golden Goose Award honors scientists whose research funded by the federal government has yielded major benefits to society, which could not have been anticipated at the time of funding. COSSA congratulates this year’s awardees, which includes social scientists whose research has had profound impacts on premature infant development and federal auctions of the telecommunications spectrum. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Social Scientists among 2014 Golden Goose Awardees

On September 18, the scientific community and policy makers will come together to celebrate the winners of this year’s Golden Goose Award at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The Golden Goose Award honors scientists whose research funded by the federal government has yielded major benefits to society, which could not have been anticipated at the time of funding. Among the 2014 awardees is a group of scientists whose research studying the impact of maternal absence on infant rats has significantly improved the ability of premature babies to thrive and has saved billions in health care costs and a group of…

DBASSE Announces New Director of Human-Systems Integration Board

Last month, the National Research Council’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) announced the appointment of Dr. Poornima Madhavan as the next director of the Board on Human Systems Integration (BOHSI). Madhavan comes to the National Academies from Old Dominion University, where she is associate professor of human factors in the department of psychology, as well as director of undergraduate research. BOHSI issues reports and provides expertise on a range of topics, which include “scientific and technology challenges of virtual reality, research needs for human factors, mental models of human-computer interaction, nuclear safety, the future of air…

NRC Releases Implementing Juvenile Justice Reform Report

This month, the Committee on Law and Justice within the National Research Council’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) released a report, Implementing Juvenile Justice Reform: The Federal Role. The report is a follow-on to the 2013 report, Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach, and is “designed to provide specific guidance to [the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in the Department of Justice] regarding the steps that it should take, both internally and externally, to facilitate juvenile justice reform grounded in knowledge about adolescent development and effective interventions.” Back to this issue’s table of…

AAAS Seeks Nominations for 2014 Abelson Prize

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is inviting nominations for the 2014 Philip Hauge Abelson Prize. Established in 1985, the prize is awarded annually to an individual who has “made signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States either as (1) a public servant, in recognition of sustained exceptional contributions to advancing science, or (2) a scientist, whose career has been distinguished both for scientific achievement and for other notable services to the scientific community.” The 2014 Abelson Prize will be presented at the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, CA in February 2015….

AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition Reflects on Five Years

The Science and Human Rights Coalition of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) held its biannual meeting on July 14 and 15. COSSA is a member of the Coalition, which is a “network of scientific and engineering membership organizations that recognize a role for scientists and engineers in human rights.” This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Coalition’s founding, and the meeting provided an opportunity for members to look back on what has been accomplished and consider new directions for the future.  An anniversary celebration is planned for October of this year.

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