A Periodic Federal Science Update

Barry Myers, CEO of Accuweather, Nominated as Next NOAA Administrator – As has been long expected, on October 11 the President announced his intent to nominate Mr. Barry Myers as the next NOAA Administrator.  If confirmed, Barry Myers of Pennsylvania will serve as Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, Department of Commerce (NOAA Administrator).  Mr. Myers has served as CEO of AccuWeather since 2007.  He is or has been active in the World Meteorological Organization, World Federation of Scientists, American Meteorological Society (AMS), and other organizations.  He served as a member of the nationally recognized Smeal College of Business.  Mr. Myers is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He graduated from the Smeal College of Business at Penn State and received a J.D. from Boston University Law School.  Adm Tim Gallaudet was confirmed last week to be the Deputy NOAA Administrator.

NSF Announces STEM Education Advisory Panel – NSF has announced the establishment of the STEM Education Advisory Panel to provide advice and recommendations to the interagency Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM), assess CoSTEM’s progress in carrying out responsibilities related to the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, and help identify need or opportunity to update the Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education 5-Year Strategic Plan.  For more information contact the responsible NSF official, Dr. William Lewis, Acting Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation.

Senate Confirms Key Commerce Department Nominations – On October 5, the United States Senate confirmed the President’s nominations of Adm. Timothy Gallaudet to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere (Deputy Administrator for NOAA) and Dr. Walter Copan to be Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology (NIST Administrator).

National Oceanic Partnership Program (NOPP) 2018 Broad Agency Announcement Deadline Extended -- In July 2017 the Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) of the National Science Foundation announced that they are partnering with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), NASA, and NSF’s Office of Polar Programs (OPP), via the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP), in a “Broad Agency Announcement” (ONR BAA # N000014-17-S-B016) regarding three ocean research and technology topics of mutual and emerging interest including:  CubeSat Sensors for Investigating Littoral Ocean and Atmospheric Drivers; Improved and Routine Production, Stewardship and Application of the Group for High Resolution Sea Surface Temperature Data; and In-situ Ocean Sensor Research and Technology Development.  The October 16, 2017 deadline for the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) 2018 Broad Agency Announcement has been extended one week until October 23, 2017. This change affects the submission deadline for the Topic 1 and Topic 2 full proposal and Topic 3 Letters of Intent. The Topic 3 full proposal deadline remains on January 29, 2018.

NSF Seeks Information on Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure – On October 6 NSF issued a Request for Information on existing and future needs for mid-scale research infrastructure projects.  The purpose of this RFI is to assess the needs for mid-scale RI from the US-based NSF science and engineering community in order to develop a strategy, in accordance with the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA). The AICA requires NSF to "evaluate the existing and future needs, across all disciplines supported by the Foundation, for mid-scale projects" and "develop a strategy to address the needs." This RFI focuses on mid-scale research infrastructure projects with an anticipated NSF contribution of between $20 million and $100 million towards construction and/or acquisition. This range is of primary interest to NSF as it will help us anticipate the potential impact of lowering an existing threshold as well as identifying promising projects that remain difficult to address within program budgets due to the comparatively large investment needed in a relatively short period of time. After the submission period ends, and the information is analyzed, NSF will summarize the high-level insights drawn from this analysis for the science community and internal NSF use. The deadline for submission to this RFI is December 8, 2017. 

Back in January 2012, the National Science Board issued an evaluation of the need for mid-scale instrumentation in response to the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (ACRA 2010).  In that report the NSB concluded at that time:  Overall, the Board finds that the current research infrastructure investments across the Foundation are in alignment with the Board’s earlier forecasts and recommendations on funding and prioritization – including for mid-scale research instrumentation. In particular, the Board finds that NSF’s current balance of small, medium and large instrumentation is sound, and that the variety of mechanisms by which NSF prioritizes, solicits, evaluates, and supports mid-scale instrumentation – both directly, and indirectly through large centers and facilities – provides flexibility and vigor to NSF’s efforts. Consequently, although the Board’s evaluation points to the importance of continuing strongly to support mid-scale instrumentation, the Board does not recommend that NSF expand existing Foundation-wide programs or create a new Foundation-wide program for mid-scale instrumentation at this time. (emphasis added).

National Association of Marine Laboratories to Hold Biennial Fall Meeting – On October 24 and 25, at the Cousteau Center in Tuckerton, New Jersey, the National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML) will be meeting to discuss and take action on a number of issues important to NAML members including: fisheries research priorities at NOAA and public policy priorities for NAML going forward.  A variety of science presentations related to shellfish research, coastal management user conflict; development of a regional GeoDataBase; Sentinel Site Initiative: A networked approach to early detection of environmental change.  More information on this meeting including registration; the agenda; and lodging can be found here.