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                                    May 19, 2018



The fiscal 2019 House Defense Authorization bill is headed soon to the floor, CQ reports. The Senate Armed Services Committee aims to produce its version in two or three days of closed sessions starting Wednesday. Meanwhile, the House Armed Service's Committee's report on the bill offers insights on the panel's R&D enthusiasms and concerns:

Future Vertical Lift technology "will enable rotorcraft aviation to retain overmatch through significant capability improvements in reach, speed, protection, and lethality," the House panel says, urging the Pentagon to accelerate the program.

Harnessing Emerging Research Opportunities to Empower Soldiers (HEROES), a joint industry-academia R&D initiative, "accelerates research and innovation through integration of intellectual assets and research facilities" in such areas as "advanced ballistic polymers for body armor, fibers to make uniforms more fire resistant, and lightweight structures for advanced shelters."

The Robotarium, an Office of Naval Research-sponsored lab at Georgia Tech, exemplifies "grant programs that enhance academia’s ability to conduct complex experiments with autonomous systems." It will be "increasingly important for ONR to continue to fund initiatives that prepare future engineers to conduct cutting edge research in this discipline, especially with different classes of autonomous systems including unmanned underwater vehicles, unmanned surface vehicles, and unmanned aerial vehicles operating simultaneously across multiple domains."

The Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) "ensures that the next generation of scientists and engineers are trained with cutting-edge capabilities." Understanding that there is an "additional opportunity for the Navy to facilitate research in an area of interest," the panel urges that DURIP get $10 million more.

Academia "is well-suited to partner with the Air Force on modeling, design, and comparative analysis" of unmanned air platforms "through the use of Educational Partnership Agreements, which are mutually beneficial agreements that may also enhance the Air Force’s effort to recruit a diverse and educated workforce."

Anti-tampering and cybersecurity research, which helps safeguard weapon systems from theft, reverse engineering, and exploitation, is an area of "highly focused efforts" by the Air Force. The committee "encourages the Department to leverage talent from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have a proven track record of excellence in this particular field."

Economically efficient "reusable hypersonic systems" hold the promise of extending national defense capabilities "beyond the limits of expendable systems. Additional reusable hypersonic vehicle structure development and thermal protection system development is necessary to enable rapid global response to threats, and extend the survivability of platforms in highly contested environments."

Dual-use ceramic capabilities and production technologies have captured lawmakers' interest, particularly "recent advancements in smelting (that) have significant overlap with ceramic production methods and could lower ceramic production costs."  These have "demonstrated versatility in critical military applications, including composite armor for soldier and vehicle protection, and for use in advanced hypersonic vehicle development."

Advances in synthetic biology, genomics, biotechnology, and related novel technologies "may enhance human performance and improve traditional approaches to healthcare. This includes enhancing human ability to perform through stressful and resource-limited environments, improving decision making, minimizing the time between disease identification and treatment, and augmenting human immune systems to defeat a variety of diseases, rather than depending on specific vaccines and therapeutics."

The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) "supports the identification, development, and demonstration of game-changing technologies" and "leverages partnerships with academic institutions, science and technology communities, and private industries." The committee "supports the objective of DIUx to maintain U.S. technological superiority across the range of military operations" but says DIUx "should also increase efforts to support technological superiority at Department installations by addressing critical technological needs."

The committee wants to learn more about Pentagon plans regarding quantum sciences and their use "for military applications and other purposes." 

CURBING RESEARCH TIES WITH ADVERSARIES: A report in Defense One explains the push by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and others on Armed Services to curb research ties with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. "For years, experts have been sounding the alarm about foreign talent recruitment programs and their role in facilitating technology transfer to peer competitors,” Defense One quotes Gallagher as saying. He cited the Chinese Thousand Talents program, which "seeks to attract academics to come to China and participate in cutting-edge research." Meanwhile, an amendment that may be offered from the floor could require institutions to register as foreign agents if they work with nations against which the United States has an arms embargo. "Additionally, academic institutions would be required to disclose to the Secretary of Education if/when they enter into a contract with a foreign source."

INSTRUCTIONS TO NSF IN SPENDING BILL: In approving a major increase for the National Science Foundation, the House Appropriations Committee spelled out a number of priorities for the agency. These include NSF’s Windows on the Universe big idea for multi-messenger astrophysics, Antarctic infrastructure modernization, midscale experimental research, high-energy lasers, research related to the U.S. steel industry, and both high-performance and quantum computing.

See Lewis-Burke Associates' comprehensive analysis of the report by the Commerce, Justice, Science subcommittee. It covers NSF, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


EXTREME VETTING: The U.S. State Department has proposed additional vetting requirements for nonimmigrant visa applicants, including student, work, and tourist visas, the Association of American Univerisities' weekly newsletter reports. "The proposed data collection would require nonimmigrant visa applicants to report five years of identifiers for social media platforms and to submit five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, and international travel." The AAU and 12 other higher education groups sent a letter to the department raising concerns. They say that combined, the proposed changes "may result in significant unintended consequences that will hamper the United States' ability to attract the world's best students and scholars to our campuses."

CHRIS FALL TAPPED FOR DOE OFFICE OF SCIENCE: Currently principal deputy director of DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), Fall was on the White House staff under Barack Obama, according to ScienceInsider. He has a doctorate in neuroscience from the University of Virginia. His appointment as director of the office was announced Friday by the White House.

STEM APPRENTICESHIPS FOR HIGH SCHOOL CTE STUDENTS: The Department of Education is inviting applications for the Pathways to STEM Apprenticeship for High School Career and Technical Education (CTE) Students demonstration program, Lewis-Burke Associates reports. States need to show that community colleges would be part of the apprenticeship plan. "This demonstration program aims to support efforts by states to expand and improve the transition of high school CTE Students to postsecondary education and employment through apprenticeships in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.  Using Perkins CTE funding, ED will award competitive grants to states to strengthen the connections between high school CTE programs and Competency-Based apprenticeship opportunities in STEM fields." See the notice in the Federal Register. 

NIH EARLY-CAREER GRANT PROCESS 'SKEWS MALE': So reports ScienceInsider. Since the National Institutes of Health launched the Early Independence Awards in 2010, "men have consistently won them in numbers exceeding their representation in the applicant pool," according to the publication. 

DEBUT SOON: The Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) Challenge, sponsored by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and VentureWell, "recognizes undergraduate excellence in biomedical design and innovation." The deadline is May 31. Learn more.

DURIP DEADLINES: Inquiries about the Defense University Research Instumentation Program are due June 15. Full proposals are due July 6. See this and other Navy solicitations.


Source for both tables: Lewis-Burke Associates

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