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                                                         February 29, 2020  



Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), right, vowed he would "never write a bill that slashes the investment in medical research" as proposed by the Trump White House. "Smart investments in medical research have brought about new treatments, screening tools, and vaccines, particularly in cancer, leading to the largest one-year decline in cancer deaths ever reported." His House counterpart, Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) called the National Institutes of Health the world's leading biomedical research institution. The proposed $3 billion cut would "hit the brakes on that research." The House Energy and Commerce Committee also weighed in on the Health and Human Services budget, as well as Covid 19. See a staff memo.

'BACKWARD-LOOKING PROPOSALS': The administration's energy budget is "riddled" with such ideas, according to Rep.  Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), above right, chair of the energy-water appropriations subcommittee. Going down the list, she cited a 74 percent proposed cut to the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; proposed elimination of the Weatherization Program, which helps low-income families, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, and a $1.2 billion cut to the Office of Science. The latter would affect advanced computing, biology and environmental sciences, chemistry and materials research, she said.

STAYING AHEAD IN THE BIOECONOMY: Witnesses at a March 3 hearing before the Senate Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather subcommittee will include Timothy Donohue, director of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jason Gammack, chief commercial officer, Inscripta Inc, Megan Palmer, a senior research scholar at Stanford, and Jason Kelly, co-founder and CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks..a Boston-based start-up.

'CREATIVE USE OF MATH': That's how Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.), chair of the House, Science, and Technology Committee, characterized the Trump administration's claim of a six percent budget increase for R&D. No one is fooled, she said: The administration based the percentage on its own FY 2020 budget, not enacted levels. In reality, there would be a 9 percent cut. In a scathing opening statement before introducing Kelvin Droegemeier, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Johnson allowed that the presidential science adviser is "personally committed to a thriving scientific enterprise." But the budget cuts "appear to be driven by an ideology that aggressively seeks to undermine faith in science and scientists and to discount expertise at all levels of government and society." See statements by Droegemeier and the panel's ranking Republican, Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and watch the hearing.

A 'CONSENSUS' ENERGY BILL: Combining some 50 measures, the 555-page American Energy Innovation Act of 2020 includes a range of R&D provisions, from energy storage to carbon capture and smart manufacturing. Introduced by fossil fuel-state senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), it would set up a program to ensure "the  continued  use  of  the  abundant  domestic coal  and  natural  gas" but also boosts renewable wind, solar, and marine energy. Of note: the University Nuclear Leadership Program, which would provide scholarships, fellowships, and R&D in advanced nuclear reactor technology. See the bill, a summary, and breakdown of provisions.

On March 4, the House Science's Environment subcommittee plans a hearing on three bills dealing in various ways with climate change: H.R. 5519, the “Atmospheric Climate Intervention Research Act”; H.R. 4656, the “Background Ozone Research Act”; and H.R. 3297, the “Harmful Algal Bloom Essential Forecasting Act.” 


YOUR IDEAS FOR BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH: The National Institutes of Health have issued a request for information for the agency's fiscal 2021-25 strategic plan. Cross-cutting themes are:  Increasing, Enhancing, and Supporting Diversity:, Improving Women’s Health and Minority Health, and Reducing Health Disparities; Optimizing Data Science and the Development of Technologies and Tools; Promoting Collaborative Science; and  Addressing Public Health Challenges Across the Lifespan. Addtional objectives include Advancing Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences; Developing, Maintaining, and Renewing Scientific Research Capacity; and Exemplifying and Promoting the Highest Level of Scientific Integrity, Public Accountability, and Social Responsibility in the Conduct of Science. See the 2016-20 strategic plan.

NUCLEAR RECYCLING: Idaho National Laboratory is providing Silicon Valley startup Oklo Inc. with access to recovered spent nuclear fuel as part of an effort to "accelerate deployment of commercially viable microreactors." Okio, which won a competitive process, is working on a small advanced fission technology--Aurora--"that can be used in remote or off-grid locations to generate power," INL says. Jacob DeWitte, Oklo co-founder and CEO, says on his LinkedIn page: "We are building a new kind of nuclear reactor to bring cheap, clean, abundant power to the world." He has a master's and Ph.D. from MIT and a bachelor's from U. of Florida, all in nuclear engineering. See Wired's coverage.(paywall).


Worldwide, domestic, and foreign sales for companies located in the United States that performed or funded R&D, by industry and company size: 2017

Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics

Worldwide R&D paid for by others and performed by the company and others, by industry and company size: 2017

Source: NCSES


NEW DIMENSIONS IN ADDRESSING DIVERSITY: Writing in Medium, ABET Executive Director Michael Milligan hails Yvette Pearson, Rice University associate dean of engineering for accreditation, assessment and strategic initiatives. Her "personal and professional commitments to advancing diversity and inclusion in engineering education and practice extend beyond the typically addressed dimensions of diversity in the profession." Among other examples, he cites her work with colleagues to add a new canon focused on diversity, equity and inclusion to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Code of Ethics. "[S]he also focuses on often-ignored dimensions such as visible and invisible disabilities, socioeconomic status and age."


'SWIFT, COORDINATED MOVEMENTS': A National Academies report "reviews and synthesizes existing research on policies, practices, programs, and other interventions for improving the recruitment, retention, and sustained advancement into leadership roles of women" in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine and "makes actionable recommendations to leverage change" in "systems of education, research, and employment. One of the commissioned papers is a lengthy literature review. A second looks at why women are more underrepresented in some STEMM disciplines than in others. 



Promising Practices for DEI Project Evaluation - 
March 10 at 1 PM, ET: Demystify DEI evaluation! Join us to develop your capacity to work with evaluators on DEI projects and discover best practices for developing evaluation language, working with evaluators, and interpreting results. Learn more and register at http://bit.ly/30kW6qk.

Storytelling to Advance Research and Teaching - 
April 9 at 1 PM, ET: What’s your story? Tune in to learn how storytelling techniques can be used to propel your research and teaching, helping you communicate research impacts, write proposals, share best teaching practices, and teach difficult concepts. Learn more and register at http://bit.ly/3c99jba.

THE 2020 COLLABORATIVE NETWORK FOR ENGINEERING AND COMPUTING DIVERSITY (CoNECD) CONFERENCE: The vision of the CoNECD (pronounced “connected”) Conference is to provide a forum for exploring current research and practices to enhance diversity and inclusion of all underrepresented populations in the engineering and computing professions including gender identity and expression, race and ethnicity, disability, veterans, LGBTQ+, first generation and socio-economic status. Marriott Crystal Gateway, Crystal City, Va., April 19–22, 2020. Click here to make a reservation.

NSBE DEANS ROUNDTABLE: The 46th Annual National Society of Black Engineers Convention in San Antonio, Tex. is a few weeks away! Seats are available for the Dean and Minority Engineering Programs (MEP) Strategic Roundtable March 27 from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Henry B. González  Convention Center. In preparation for your arrival, please RSVP using this link by March 4, 2020. Upon completing the RSVP, you will receive an email with event details and instructions for receiving complimentary Convention registration.

FIRE UP THE FUTURE WITH eGFI: Filled with engaging features, gorgeous graphics, and useful information about engineering colleges and careers, the latest edition of ASEE's award-winning Engineering, Go For It is sure to get your students excited about learning - and doing - engineering!

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