A Periodic Federal Science Update

Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) to Hold Briefing on Federal Support for Climate and Environmental R&D – On Friday, March 16 at 2PM Eastern the EESI will offer a briefing on the new report released by Novim which discusses the impact of the Administration’s budget for climate and environmental R&D.  Speakers at this forum include:  Michael Ditmore, Executive Director of Novim, Ari Patrinos, Chief Scientist for Novim; and Kei Koizumi, Visiting Scholar from the AAAS.  The briefing will take place in room 2360 Rayburn House Office Building.  A live webcast of the briefing will be streamed at 2PM EST here.  

Important Science Hearings This Week Before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee – On Wednesday, March 14, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on the current state of the Department of Energy’s national laboratories.  Witnesses for the national lab hearing include:  Dr. Mark Peters, Director, Idaho National Laboratory;  Dr. Susan Seestrom, Advanced Science & Technology Associate Labs Director and Chief Research Officer, Sandia National Laboratory;  Dr. Mary E. Maxon, Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory;  Dr. Chi-Chang Kao, Director, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, National Accelerator Laboratory; and Dr. Paul Kearns, director, Argonne National Laboratory.  On Thursday, March 15, the House Science Committee will hold a hearing on the NSF’s FY 2019 Budget Request. Testifying for NSF will be NSF Director, Dr. France Cordova, and NSB Chair, Dr. Maria Zuber.

Air Force Announces FY 2019 Funding Opportunity for Young Investigators -- The FY 2019 Air Force Young Investigator Research Program (YIP) provides support for scientists and engineers who have recently received their Ph.D. or equivalent degree.. The program objective is to foster creative basic research in science and engineering; enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators; and increase opportunities for the young investigator to recognize the Air Force mission and related challenges in science and engineering. Individual awards are made to U.S. institutions of higher education, industrial laboratories, or non-profit research organizations where the principal investigator is employed on a full-time basis and holds a regular position. YIP primary investigators must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident. Most YIP awards are funded at $150,000 per year for three years, for a total of $450,000.  More information on the YIP program can be found here.

NSF Announces Support for the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier: Advancing Cognitive and Physical Capabilities (FW-HTF) -- The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF) is one of 10 new and far-sighted Big Ideas for Future Investments announced by NSF in 2016. NSF aims to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the changing landscape of jobs and work by supporting convergent research to: understand and develop the human-technology partnership; design new technologies to augment human performance; illuminate the emerging socio-technological landscape and understand the risks and benefits of new technologies; and foster lifelong and pervasive learning with technology. In order to be nimble and responsive to new opportunities and challenges as they are recognized, focus areas for the FW-HTF solicitation, the centerpiece of the FW-HTF Big Idea, may change from year to year. This solicitation focuses on advancing cognitive and physical capabilities in the context of human-technology interactions. The solicitation, which anticipates providing $27 million to support two themes: Theme 1 will focus on Foundations for Augmenting Human Cognition and Theme 2 will focus on Embodied Intelligent Cognitive Assistants. In shaping projects responsive to these two themes, PIs consider the importance of understanding, anticipating, and shaping the larger implications at the individual, institutional, corporate, and national levels, including issues arising from the needs or consequences for training and education. In addition, projects should be framed in terms of their focus on the potential contribution toward (a) transforming the frontiers of science and technology for human performance augmentation and workplace skill acquisition; (b) improving both worker quality of life and employer financial metrics; (c) enhancing the economic and social well-being of the country; and (d) addressing societal needs through research on learning and instruction in the context of augmentation.  More information on this funding opportunity can be found here.

NSF Announces Planning Grants for Engineering Research Centers (ERC) -- In response to a study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine [NASEM study], the ERC program is piloting a planning grant opportunity in advance of the next ERC solicitation.  The ERC program is placing greater emphasis on research that leads to societal impact, including convergent approaches, engaging stakeholder communities, and strengthening team formation, in response to the NASEM study recommendations. The ERC program intends to support planning activities leading to convergent research team formation and capacity-building within the engineering community. To participate in the upcoming ERC competition, one is not required to submit a planning grant proposal nor to receive a planning grant.  More information on ERC planning grants can be found here.

Senator Wicker and Senator Schatz Introduce Legislation Related to Unmanned Maritime Technology – On March 7, Senators Wicker and Schatz introduced the Commercial Engagement Through Ocean Technology (CENOTE) Act.  An identical version of this bill was introduced in the House and is co-sponsored by Reps. Palazzo and Panetta.  The CENOTE bill directs NOAA to coordinate its development of unmanned maritime systems with universities, the private sector, and the Navy. NOAA would be required to use unmanned technologies to address mission requirements. The data collected from these missions will be made accessible to the public, benefiting commercial, academic, and national security interests. 

NIH Solicits Comments on Strategic Plan for Data Science – On March 5, the NIH released a Request for Information (RFI) for comments and suggestions from stakeholders throughout the scientific research community regarding the NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science.  The NIH seeks comments on any of the following topics:  the appropriateness of the goals of the plan and of the strategies and implementation tactics proposed to achieve them; opportunities for NIH to partner in achieving these goals; additional concepts that should be included in the plan; performance measures and milestones that could be used to gauge the success of elements of the plan and inform course corrections; and any other topic the respondent feels is relevant for NIH to consider in developing this strategic plan.

NSF Dear Colleague Letter on Space Weather Operations to Research Proposals – The NSF’s Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences and Astronomical Sciences Divisions are supporting the National Space Weather Action Plan (SWAP) by calling for proposals as part of a 1-year pilot program that will facilitate operations to research (O2R) activities needed to improve space weather prediction. O2R covers a broad range of activities designed to ultimately improve operational capabilities and fundamental research related to these needs. This can include testing, evaluating, and enhancing operational models.  The National Space Weather Action Plan (SWAP) released by the National Science and Technology Council describes actions that are needed to improve the understanding of, forecasting of, and preparedness for space weather events. An overarching theme of the SWAP is the need for collaboration amongst the research and operational communities. A key aspect of this collaboration is the research to operations (R2O) and operations to research (O2R) pipeline. Recognizing the challenges related to this pipeline, SWAP calls upon agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), to support efforts to facilitate the transition of space weather data and modeling capabilities to the Nation's space weather prediction providers and provide feedback from prediction providers to the research community on new research activities needed to improve the operational models. NSF, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are conducting independent pilot activities to improve forecasts of the background solar wind, solar wind structures, and coronal mass ejections using solar and solar wind data and models, if possible employing data assimilation techniques.  The DCL can be found here.

NSF Calls for Proposals on Replicability and Reproducibility -- The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) encourages submission of proposals that target reproducibility and replicability efforts in data-intensive domains and that specifically rely on analysis of neuroimaging or neuroelectric data, including electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography, electrocorticography and functional neuroimaging.  These areas are being emphasized for support across several content domains, given increased cognizance of potential concerns about analytic assumptions and derived workflows and increased community awareness of the need to define and publicize best practices for analyzing, documenting, managing and disseminating large datasets. More information on this initiative can be found here.