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                                 January 25, 2018



Congress moved quickly to pass a three-week stopgap funding bill--lasting until Feb. 15--after President Trump agreed to reopen the federal government without first securing money for a border wall. The Office of Management and Budget directed shuttered agencies to prepare for "an orderly reopening" and prioritize "restoring pay and benefits for employees, ensuring appropriate physical and information technology systems security access, recalling employees from furlough status, and performing any other critical support function." A House-Senate conference committee on the Homeland Security Department appropriation will try to reconcile Trump's $5.7 billion border-security demand and Democrats' refusal to support a wall. The president warned that if he cannot get a “fair deal,” the government will shut down again or he may declare a national emergency, The Hill reports

DON'T EXPECT NORMAL OPERATIONS: ScienceInsider cautions researchers they won't get all their questions answered immediately. The National Science Foundation, NASA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have been mostly closed since December 22, 2018. A "staggering amount of work" awaits returning employees. At NSF, it means "rescheduling more than 100 review panels—involving 2000 proposals—that were scrubbed during the shutdown." The publication quotes Sarah Nusser, vice president for research at Iowa State University, as saying: “I don’t know if we should expect to see very much happen in the next 3 weeks.”

SPENDING AGREEMENTS ALREADY REACHED: Science's Jeff Mervis analyzes the FY 2019 House-Senate deals already negotiated that look pretty good for research funding agencies. If they become law, NSF would get a 3.7 percent increase over FY 2018; NASA's science account "would grow by 11 percent"; and NIST would get "$4.5 million more for research than in 2018."

NEW APPROACH TO NUCLEAR REGS: The president has signed the bipartisan Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act. It requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission "to develop a new regulatory framework by the end of 2024 that fosters increased technological innovation in the advanced nuclear reactor program. The Department of Energy is also mandated to provide cost sharing grants to license applicants to help fund the NRC review fees," ASME reports. A committee report that accompanied the legislation cites support from, among others, the Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization, Boise State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison physics department. 


RECOVERING BATTERIES' CRITICAL MATERIALS: The Department of Energy has announced a funding opportunity aimed at capturing 90 percent of all lithium based batteries in the United States so as to reduce dependence on foreign sources of critical materials. ASME's Capitol Update reports that the FOA has been released in tandem with Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s announcement of a new Battery Recycling Research and Development (R&D) Center.

QUANTUM, CHEMICALS, AND MATERIALS: The Department of Energy will fund research to the tune of $45 million based on proposalson these topics: chemical and materials sciences research aimed at the design and discovery of novel systems and materials relevant to the development of quantum information science; and use of quantum computing to solve problems in chemical and materials science research. Learn more.

NEGATIVE RESPONSE TO DEPARTMENT OF ED ASSAULT RULE: CQ reports that comments on the Department of Education's plan to revise Title IX rules for how universities handle sexual assault cases are running "nearly 84 percent opposed . . . compared to 14 percent in favor." Among other things, the proposed rules guarantee the accused a hearing, begin with a presumption of innocence, give both sides access to all the evidence being considered, and allow an adviser or lawyer to cross-examine the accuser. 


Source: Pew Research Center, Public’s 2019 Priorities: Economy, Health Care, Education and Security All Near Top of List 


'CREDIBLE AND USEFUL' CLIMATE DATA: A strategic plan for the National Academies' Climate Communications Initiative (CCI) seeks, among other things, to improve the Academies’ ability to give agencies and Congress the best available scientific and technological advice and reach audiences that want or need both credible and useful information about climate and its potential impacts. A disclaimer says the book is not a report of the Academies and the views expressed are solely those of the author(s). 

ELECTRICAL ENGINEER, COMPUTER SCIENTIST  HONORED BY NAS: Michal Lipson, professor of electrical engineering at Columbia University, has won the National Academy of Sciences 2019 Comstock Prize in Physics for pioneering research that established the groundwork for silicon photonics. The technology is "considered to be one of the most promising directions for solving major bottlenecks in microelectronics." Ola Svensson, associate professor at the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at L'Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, will receive the 2019 Michael and Sheila Held Prize for "a series of groundbreaking new algorithms for the traveling salesman problem, (which) seeks to determine the shortest possible route for a person to take while visiting a given number of cities and returning to their point of origin." 



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Two-Part Webinar on Teaching Metacognition — February 2019
How do you teach metacognition to help improve student learning? Join us for a two-part webinar event. Patrick Cunningham (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) and Holly Matusovich (Virginia Tech) offer insights and actionable strategies for talking to and teaching students about metacognitive development. Registration is free for ASEE members! Learn more and register


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