ESA ANNOUNCES 2012 GSPA RECIPIENTS
In recent months, ESA has been active in submitting correspondence to the White House and Congress on a wide array of research policy proposals.
Most recently, ESA joined with other members of the Coalition for National Science Funding in cosigning a letter expressing concerns about H.R. 3433, the GRANT Act. The bill includes provisions that would require the posting of a complete copy of a funded grant proposal to a new government-wide website, a concern for many researchers who continue to draw on their original ideas for future papers. It would also require open disclosure of peer reviewers. “The success of the peer-review process depends on the willingness of qualified reviewers to be candid and critical as needed in the evaluation of research proposals and, in fact, without the anonymity provided in the current process, many researchers would not be willing to review proposals,” notes the letter.
“Increased accountability and transparency are worthy goals, and we believe the federal science and engineering research grants process is currently very accountable and transparent, while also encouraging the best in our country to participate,” the letter states. “H.R. 3433 would disrupt this balance and ultimately be detrimental to the U.S. science and engineering research enterprise.”
ESA also submitted letters in response to two official Requests for Information (RFI) from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) concerning the issue of public access to research and digital data generated through federal support. ESA maintained that any digital data policy be flexible enough to account for the needs of diverse research communities and that stakeholders should have adequate input into the policies that would impact them. The Society noted its capabilities to support data sharing and archiving and welcomed the development of agency policies and standards that will preserve and enhance access to digital data resulting from federal support.
The ESA written response to the RFI on public access to scholarly communications requested that scientific journals continue to maintain the latitude to determine the best methods in which to expand dissemination of the research papers they publish.
ESA also provided feedback to the National Science Board on its recent report on digital data sharing and management.
ESA sent a letter to President Obama expressing support for his decision to deny approval of the existing permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline.
The decision was mandated by provisions in the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-78). The Act required the administration to come to a decision on whether to approve the pipeline within 60 days. ESA’s letter noted that only in November of 2011 did the Nebraska state government enact a law requiring a new environmental assessment for an alternative to the originally proposed route, which traversed an environmentally sensitive portion of Nebraska. The Society’s letter requested that the administration come to a decision only after proper scientific review and environmental assessment.
ESA also joined the STEM Education Coalition in sending a letter to House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) providing feedback on two bills that would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Specifically, the letter highlights the important role STEM education plays in economic development and offers several suggestions on how the legislation could be modified to more directly and comprehensively focus on STEM education.
NATIONAL PARTNERS DIALOGUE
ESA finalized a report on the outcomes of the National Partners Dialogue, which was held in late 2011. The meeting of over 60 national partners resulted in a number of recommendations that the US Geological Survey plans to carry forward as it continues setting up the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC), in conjunction with the Department of the Interior’s regional Climate Science Centers. The report will be available on the ESA website soon, pending final USGS approval.
ESA MEMBERS IN ACTION
JUDITH WEIS (Rutgers University) contributed to a chapter on water for the United Nations Environment Program’s 5th Global Environment Outlook. Collaborators represent multiple countries and the chapter is intended to inform water policies worldwide.
ROB JACKSON (Duke University) co-authored a study on the safety of hydraulic fracturing, garnering several press mentions over the past year. He recently published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, clarifying statements that were made in reference to his study during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources Subcommittee hearing in November.
FRED GEHLBACH (Baylor University) writes a monthly nature column for the Waco, Texas daily newspaper (Tribune Herald). His January 2012 column was titled: “We are the cause behind a depleted Earth.”
JOSEPH LEYDA has been involved in a federal court case in Seattle WA in which he presented scientific anlaysis of the effects of stormwater pollutants such as diesel fuel, gasoline, oil, lead, copper, zinc, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on salmonids and other organisms. Leyda also submitted comments for the scoping phase of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for continued uranium mining in western Colorado by the Bureau of Land Management and Department of Energy.
MELISSA KENNEY is Assistant Research Scientist in Environmental Decision Analysis at Johns Hopkins University and an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). She has built a research program on integrating uncertain scientific information and societal values to support complex environmental policymaking and is helping agencies better link climate sciences with the social sciences. In this role, she has coordinated the development of a physical, ecological, and societal indicator framework for U.S. Global Change Research Program, National Climate Assessment and is a lead author for the Decision Support chapter of the National Climate Assessment. Kenney is also helping implement the memorandum of understanding between the Western Governors’ Association and NOAA to support transboundary climate adaptation in the Columbia River and Pacific Northwest.
NEW ISSUES IN ECOLOGY EXAMINES NITROGEN
The 15th edition of ESA’s Issues in Ecology is now available. “Excess Nitrogen in the U.S. Environment: Trends, Risks, and Solutions” focuses on Nitrogens impact on ecosystems and human society as well as potential methods to mitigate its negative impacts. This latest Issues was complied by an interdisciplinary panel of 16 authors led by Eric Davidson, a soil ecologist and executive director of the Woods Hole Research Center. Science Daily picked up ESA’s press release on Issues and articles in Minnesota’s Star Tribune, the Summit County Citizens Voice, and the U-T San Diego News mentioned the new Issues in Ecology which also influenced a report from PRI’s The World (26 Jan).
ESA’s 2011 Annual Report is now online!
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