A Periodic Federal Science Update

Federal Agencies Ask for Input on New Ocean Priorities Plan — The Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST), under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), is requesting written input on the structure and content of its upcoming 10-year ocean research plan (tentatively titled “Ocean Research in the Coming Decade”). This new Plan will supersede the NSTC’s “Charting the Course for Ocean Science in the United States for the Next Decade:  An Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy,” That report was published in 2007 and updated in 2013.  The Plan will describe the most pressing research questions and most promising areas of opportunity within the ocean science and technology (S&T) enterprise for the coming decade. It will set the stage for actions across Federal agencies and with non-Federal entities to address societal needs and issues of national importance.  A public input period on the Plan is open now until January 1, 2017. The SOST invites all interested parties to provide input relevant to the Nation’s ocean S&T enterprise. Suggestions directed toward how the Plan should be structured and specific topic areas that should be considered for inclusion in the Plan are particularly encouraged. See the Federal Register Notice for additional information on the public input period. .  To provide input click here.  For more information on the Plan and to view the Plan prospectus, please visit this site.  General inquiries may be directed to oceanresearchplan@nsf.gov.

Michigan Tech Receives $2.8 Million Award from DOE NEXTCAR Project — On November 2 the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) Announced 10 new innovative projects out of its new program, Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Autonomous On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR). With a goal of reducing individual vehicle energy usage by 20 percent, NEXTCAR projects will take advantage of the increasingly complex and connected systems in today’s—and tomorrow’s—cars and trucks to drastically improve their energy efficiency.  As one of those 10 awards, The Michigan Technological University team and its partners will develop a mobile connected cloud computing center, a vehicle dynamics and powertrain (VD&PT) model-based predictive controller (MPC) using real-time connected vehicle (V2X) data, traffic modeling, predictive speed, and eco-routing to improve the energy efficiency of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Key innovations include the development and implementation of the MPC controller, a connected and automated traffic simulation system to provide optimal eco-routing and speed profiles, a real-time virtual toolkit for developing and optimizing VD&PT control strategies, and the integration of a mobile laboratory for on-the-fly traffic simulation.  More information on these awards can be found here.

DOD’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) Funding Announcements for FY 2018 Released -- The SERDP FY 2018 solicitations were released October 27, 2016. Researchers from Federal organizations, universities, and private industry can apply for SERDP funding.  SERDP issues two annual solicitations.  The Core Solicitation seeks proposals for basic and applied research, and advanced technology development. Core projects vary in cost and duration, consistent with the scope of the work proposed. The SERDP Exploratory Development (SEED) program is designed to investigate innovative approaches that entail high technical risk or require supporting data to provide proof of concept. SEED projects are limited to not more than $200,000 and are approximately one year in duration. SEED projects that are successful are considered for additional follow-on funding.  All submissions must be in response to a Statement of Need(SON) associated with the solicitation. Core and SEED solicitations have different SONs and different due dates. The SERDP Acting Executive Director and Deputy Director will conduct an online seminar SERDP Funding Opportunities – FY 2018 on November 4, 2016, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Pre-registration for this webinar is required.

 NSF Announces Funding for Smart and Connected Communities Research Program — Cities and communities in the U.S. and around the world are entering a new era of transformational change, in which their inhabitants and the surrounding built and natural environments are increasingly connected by smart technologies, leading to new opportunities for innovation, improved services, and enhanced quality of life. The goal of this Smart & Connected Communities (S&CC) solicitation is to support strongly interdisciplinary, integrative research and research capacity-building activities that will improve understanding of smart and connected communities and lead to discoveries that enable sustainable change to enhance community functioning. For the purposes of this solicitation, communities are physical, geographically-defined entities, such as towns, cities, or incorporated rural areas, consisting of various populations, with a governance structure and the ability to engage in meaningful ways with the proposed research. Successful S&CC projects are expected to pursue research and research capacity-building activities that integrate multiple disciplinary perspectives and undertake meaningful community engagement, and to include appropriate and robust evaluation plans for assessing activities and outcomes. Funding for this initiative is expected to reach $18.5 million in FY 2017.  NSF has also released a set of FAQ’s regarding this initiative which can be read here.

NOAA Releases Report on the Future of its Cooperative Institutes — On October 18, NOAA Chief Scientist, Dr. Richard Spinrad, released the results of CI21 —  a review of NOAA’s network of cooperative institutes (CI) with a series of recommendations designed to elevate the capacity and capability of the CIs and strengthen NOAA’s research enterprise.  A NOAA CI is a partnership between NOAA and a research university or other research organizations, sustained by a cooperative agreement.  According to the report, these changes will give the CIs a clearer direction on where to aim their resources and intellectual capital.  NOAA will benefit from sharing and capitalizing on t best management practices to advance the agency’s mission.  The NOAA report can be seen and downloaded here.  The key findings of the CI review include: research activity amongst the CIs is not sufficiently aligned, and the mission algidments that have existed with the individual programs were founded may have drifted; strategies are needed for coordinating NOAA and the CI mission alignment; CIs are presumed to be cost-effective for NOAA, but a true cost analysis and effectiveness assessment has not been done to date; and many NOAA line offices employ CIs, but there is often no clarity regarding which NOAA entity is responsible for technical and financial decisions.  The report contain a series of recommendations that fall into four general areas:  mission alignment and enhancement; workforce development; finance and management; and private sector engagement.

President Obama Appoints New Members to the National Science Board — The White House announced that President Barack Obama intends to appoint W. Kent Fuchs, Victor R. McCrary, Emilio F. Moran, and Julia M. Phillips to the National Science Board (NSB, Board).

 W. Kent Fuchs is President of the University of Florida. Previously, Dr. Fuchs was provost at Cornell University, where he led the creation of a new technology campus in New York City. He also served as Cornell’s Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering. Dr. Fuchs is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Association for Computing Machinery. He has received numerous awards for teaching and research.  

 Victor R. McCrary is Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Morgan State University. Dr. McCrary was the Business Area Executive for Science & Technology at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where he managed technology investment strategies for over $60 million for internal research and development (IRAD) projects targeted to the areas of national defense and national security. Dr. McCrary was also a division chief at the National Institute of Standards and Technology where he received the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Gold Medal for facilitating and developing the first global industry standard for e-books. He has published over 60 articles and is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society.  

 Emilio F. Moran is the John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor at the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations at Michigan State University. He is also a Research Professor at the University of Maryland’s Population Research Center. He brings experience as a NSF grantee in cultural anthropology, geography, ecosystem science, and other disciplines. He provides an important interface with the physical and biological sciences through his research on human interactions with the environment under conditions of change. Dr. Moran has published over 200 articles, 11 books and 15 edited volumes. He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2010.

 Julia M. Phillips is Director Emeritus at Sandia National Laboratories. As Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, she managed the Laboratory’s $160 million Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program. She was also responsible for research strategy development, implementation, and intellectual property protection and deployment. Dr. Phillips came to Sandia in 1995 after spending 14 years as technical staff and a manager at AT&T Bell Laboratories. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The White House also reappointed Arthur Bienenstock, W. Carl Lineberger, and Anneila Sargent to each serve a second six-year term. Dr. Bienenstock, Professor Emeritus of Photon Science at Stanford University, has led the Board’s initiatives on reducing administrative burdens on federally funded researchers. Dr. Lineberger, E. U. Condon Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Colorado, and Dr. Sargent, Ira S. Bowen Professor of Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, have both played key roles in NSB’s oversight and guidance of major NSF facilities and programs.

The NSB began accepting nominations for the Board last fall and made recommendations to President Obama for his consideration. Every two years, eight members rotate off the Board and a new class is appointed. Board membership will be complete when one more new member is appointed to the class of 2022.