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                                                         February 14, 2020  



"Several major research funders would again see sizable reductions to their topline budgets, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation, and basic research at the Department of Defense," reports Matt Hourihan, budget expert at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The budget, defended on Capitol Hill this week by acting Office of Management and Budget director Russell Vought (right),  recommends a doubling of research in quantum science and artificial intelligence over the next two years. Quantum science would see increases in the Department of Energy (DOE) and in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Certain quantum-relevant basic science line items in the Defense Department (DOD) would also see increases. AI research at the National Science Foundation would increase by more than 70 percent to $850 million in FY 2021, with plans for collaborative institutes in partnership with several other departments. AI would play a big role in the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. Image: C-Span.

BACK TO THE MOON: Major proposed increases for the Artemis lunar exploration program account for nearly all of NASA's 12 percent increase. Such funding comes at the expense of several other programs like WFIRST and science education. Several other White House priorities spelled out last September by Kelvin Droegemeier, the president's science adviser, "don't seem to have kept up," writes Hourihan. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would face sizable reductions. The White House would eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Energy (ARPA-E), scale back research funding for nuclear and, especially, renewable energy and energy efficiency. See more in Nature. Also: See a comprehensive analysis by Lewis-Burke Associates as well as a shorter summary.

CUTS TO BASIC RESEARCH: Basic and applied research funding would drop by $7.9 billion or 9.1 percent. "Total R&D would see a commensurate drop as well. Both defense and civilian programs would be affected," writes Hourihan of AAAS. "The White House is recommending $37 billion less for nondefense spending this year, and $1.6 trillion less over the next decade . . . . Congress has repeatedly rejected such recommendations in the past, and there's little chance the outcome will be any different this time around." Lewis-Burke Associates notes that the request "deviates from the [bipartisan] budget agreement by proposing $590 billion for non-defense programs, a cut of $52 billion or 5 percent compared to FY 2020 instead of growing the budget by about 1 percent to $634.5 billion. These cuts to non-defense programs will result in confrontation with Congress and in particular a Democratic-controlled House." Graphic: Lewis-Burke Associates

PENTAGON LOOKS TO DEVELOPMENTAL TECHNOLOGIES: The White House Office of Management and Budget is projecting essentially flat annual budgets for the Pentagon over the next five years, Inside Defense reports. At the same time, the defense budget proposes a spending increase in fiscal year 2021 for developmental technologies to prepare for 21st century competitions with China and Russia. The Pentagon’s research, development, test and evaluation request is $106.6 billion for FY-21, a $2.3 billion increase above the FY-20 request.

Click here for a summary by the Coaltion for National Security Research of how university research funded by each armed service would fare under the F 2021 Pentagon budget. Defense-wide numbers were not available when this document was prepared and are not included. Also see CNSR's updated detailed budget table on Pentagon R&D.


VETS' STEM CAREERS MEASURE BECOMES LAW: President Donald Trump has signed a bill intending to help veterans pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, UPI reports. The White House said the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act will establish an interagency working group to help transition and train veterans and their spouses for STEM careers. See the president's remarks. According to the website connectingvets.com, the new law provides for veterans' participation in (1) the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program to recruit and train mathematics and science teachers, (2) NSF fellowships and masters fellowships for mathematics and science teachers, (3) computer and network security capacity-building grants, and (4) traineeship grants leading to a doctorate degree in computer and network security research. The bill was a bipartisan effort led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). See an ASEE report of an NSF-funded workshop on transitioning vets into engineering-related careers.


Source: Hourihan, Matt, "Latest White House Budget Features A Few Big Research Priorities Amid Ranging Reductions", Smerican Association for the Advancement of Science © 2020 AAAS

One-year Change in International Graduate Applications and Enrollment by Selected Region or Country

One-year Change in International Applications and First-time Enrollment by Selected Field of Study between 2018 and 2019


'SPIKE' EXPECTED IN ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE PROSECUTIONS: Senior U.S. law enforcement officials acknowledge that the criminal cases could harm potentially useful U.S. collaborations with China, but believe they will help deter future problems, ScienceInsider reports. "'Some will complain that [the prosecutions] might have a chilling effect on collaboration with the Chinese. The answer to that is—for good and bad reasons—yes, it will,' said Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the district of Massachusetts. 'China has launched a massive nationwide effort to pilfer U.S. technology and know-how and transfer it to China for its own uses, so unfortunately this kind of response is needed.'” Lelling was one of several panelists at a half-day conference on the Justice Department's China Initiative held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. See a video of the event.

EDUCATION DEPT. JOINS CRACKDOWN:  The agency  "says it is opening an investigation into Yale and Harvard universities for failing to disclose hundreds of millions of dollars in gifts and contracts from foreign donors," NPR and other outlets report. "The two Ivy League schools have been singled out in a federal crackdown on institutions of higher learning for allegedly not reporting foreign donations of more than $250,000, as required by law under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act."


IFEES GLOBAL WEBINAR: Yannis Yortsos, Engineering Dean at the University of Southern California, on 'Engineering a Better World for All Humanity' -  "[T]he increasing power of technology presents unprecedented opportunities to solve grand challenge-like problems (ranging from the NAE Grand Challenges to the UN Sustainable Development Goals). Electing to pursue such opportunities is an ethical mandate that should be heeded by engineering schools worldwide in their education and research. In parallel, society will increasingly demand trust from institutes of higher education and research, including the development of trustworthy engineers."  Register here. 

'CHANGING CULTURES OF OPPRESSION': The #EngineersShowUp campaign seeks "to challenge the stereotype of the apathetic engineer" with a Week of Critical Action and Advocacy focused on resisting systemic injustice. "During the week of February 23-29, 2020, students, faculty, and staff will take concerted actions on campuses around the world, from tweeting support, to hosting reading groups or teach-ins, to pledging to decolonize the engineering curriculum or implement anti-racist, anti-sexist, culturally inclusive, and liberatory pedagogies." Learn more. See a Journal of Engineering Education guest editorial by Donna Riley, Ellen K. Foster, and Jennifer Karlin. 

WEBINAR: Demystifying Evaluation – Promising Practices to Maximize Your DEI Efforts: Evaluation is critical for diversity, equity, & inclusion (DEI) focused projects. On March 10 at 1 PM, ET, join us for a free webinar that will help develop the capacity of researchers to work with evaluators on their DEI projects. Led by Liz Litzler and Cara Margherio (University of Washington Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity), this webinar will share promising practices for working with evaluators, developing program evaluation language using a logic model, & interpreting evaluation results. This webinar is free for ASEE members & non-members. Click here for full details.

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