The Week of August 22, 2022

 

FYI This Week highlights upcoming science policy events and summarizes news from the past week.

The Week of August 22, 2022

  • Heliophysics Decadal Survey Begins
  • Biden Signs Landmark Climate Change Mitigation Legislation
  • OSTP Deputy Jane Lubchenco Sanctioned for Publishing Misconduct
  • US Prepares to Formally Track Economic Value of ‘Nature’
  • NSF Releases Vision for ‘Future of EPSCoR’ 
  • Tight Planetary Science Budgets Threaten to Delay Future Missions
  • NASA Narrows Field of Astrophysics Mission Contenders
What's Ahead

The planet Mercury seen through a stream of material from the Sun’s corona

The planet Mercury seen through a stream of material from the Sun’s corona, imaged in 2018 by the Parker Solar Probe. The 2003 decadal survey for heliophysics recommended the mission as a top priority for NASA, anticipating a high scientific payoff from making the closest-ever approaches to the Sun. (Image credit – NASA / Naval Research Lab)

Heliophysics Decadal Survey Begins

The latest National Academies decadal survey for solar and space physics is kicking off this week with a two-day meeting. Sponsoring officials from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will discuss their expectations on Monday, and leaders of the survey’s prior iteration will offer reflections on the process on Tuesday. The new survey is tasked with proposing rank-ordered priorities for ground and space-based projects over the 2024 to 2033 timeframe and recommending “decision rules” for how the three agencies should pare back their efforts under different budget constraints. It will also comment at length on the “state of the profession,” including by recommending workforce development initiatives that could improve the “vitality” of specific heliophysics subfields. The survey will be assembled by an 18-member committee chaired by Southwest Research Institute executive Stephen Fuselier and Dartmouth University physics professor Robyn Millan, and will employ additional subpanels that will examine specific topics. The committee has already begun to collect white papers from the research community, which are due Sept. 7.

In Case You Missed It

President Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act, surrounded by congressional leaders

Image credit – The White House

Biden Signs Landmark Climate Change Mitigation Legislation

President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law on Aug. 16 at the White House, where he was joined by several congressional leaders, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who had blocked a prior, more expansive version of the bill and was integral to negotiating its final contents. Hailed by Biden as “the biggest step forward on climate ever,” the act will channel about $370 billion toward efforts to decarbonize the economy and build resilience to environmental hazards. The Department of Energy released an estimate last week that the IRA and other recently enacted policies will lead to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by 2030, benchmarked against 2005 levels. It specifically projected that the IRA in combination with last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act could reduce nationwide greenhouse gas emissions by about a gigaton in 2030 compared to a baseline scenario. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Rick Spinrad highlighted how the bill includes $3.3 billion to help the agency “build a climate ready nation” and “address the growing demand for information and facilitate new products and services.” Interim White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Alondra Nelson spotlighted the bill’s impact on health equity and environmental justice, saying that the IRA and the CHIPS and Science Act will “lead us into a new era of inclusive American innovation and leadership in science and technology.” 

OSTP Deputy Jane Lubchenco Sanctioned for Publishing Misconduct

The National Academy of Sciences has barred senior White House science official Jane Lubchenco from its publications and activities for five years for violating the NAS code of conduct while working as an editor of its flagship journal PNAS. Prior to joining the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 2021, Lubchenco edited an ecology paper published in PNAS in 2020 that was coauthored by her brother-in-law and included an author she had recently published a paper with on a related subject, both of which are prohibited by the journal’s policies. PNAS retracted the paper in Oct. 2021, due to these violations and the paper's use of outdated data. Reacting to the sanction, Lubchenco told reporters in a statement, “I accept these sanctions for my error in judgment in editing a paper authored by some of my research collaborators — an error for which I have publicly stated my regret." Lubchenco has previously led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is currently deputy director for climate and environment at OSTP, where she has played a lead role in an initiative to reinforce scientific integrity policies across federal agencies. Shortly after the retraction, Republicans on the House Science Committee suggested President Biden consider removing her from the scientific integrity initiative. They reiterated their case in tweets last week and asserted Lubchenco had “ignored clear guidelines for her own personal gain.”

US Prepares to Formally Track Economic Value of ‘Nature’

On Aug. 18, the White House released a draft national strategy for assigning value to “nature” for the purposes of regulatory and economic decision-making. President Biden directed his administration to produce the document through an executive order last spring alongside another report on the “condition of nature” in the U.S. to be produced by the interagency U.S. Global Change Research Program. The draft strategy explains that gross domestic product and other economic metrics are “largely disconnected” from the various economic roles that nature plays, such as in product supply chains, tourism, and resilience against environmental hazards. Accordingly, it recommends that federal agencies follow a 15-year phased approach that will iteratively integrate environmental and economic data into core economic statistics that account for natural assets. The effort is expected to draw extensively on the environmental observation, monitoring, and data-producing efforts of agencies such as NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The draft is open for public comment until Oct. 21.

NSF Releases Vision for ‘Future of EPSCoR’ 

The National Science Foundation released a report this month that recommends updates for its EPSCoR program, which sets aside funds for states and territories that have historically received a small share of grants from the agency. The report arrives just as the CHIPS and Science Act has mandated that NSF begin ramping up the amount of funding allocated to EPSCoR jurisdictions. The report was developed by a 18-member advisory panel on the “Future of EPSCoR” that spent the past year assessing the effectiveness of the program’s policies and funding strategies. While it found that EPSCoR has helped facilitate research collaborations and expand research capacity in eligible jurisdictions, it recommends NSF improve coordination between EPSCoR and other programs and agencies, provide additional support for faculty retention and research infrastructure projects, and strengthen efforts to broaden participation and promote workforce development. It also suggests using the program to support regional “innovation ecosystems,” creating EPSCoR-specific versions of NSF’s traineeship and small-business R&D programs, providing start-up awards for new faculty, and providing funds to retain research administration expertise. Recent reports by the Government Accountability Office and NSF’s Office of Inspector General have also examined the EPSCoR program, respectively offering a mixed assessment of the program’s impact and identifying systemic challenges faced by participating institutions in complying with grant accounting requirements. 

Tight Planetary Science Budgets Threaten to Delay Future Missions

At a town hall meeting last week, NASA Planetary Science Division Director Lori Glaze presented the agency’s initial response to the new decadal survey for planetary science and astrobiology that the National Academies released this spring. Glaze repeatedly said she was aiming to set expectations around what the division could accomplish, presenting charts showing that the cost requirements of its expansive mission portfolio outstrip planned budgets, including in the near term. Recently, the budget demands of the flagship Mars Sample Return mission have increased rapidly and NASA’s written response to the survey suggests that if MSR overruns its cost projections, cuts would probably have to be made to other missions. Glaze also reported that the division aims to begin formal planning no later than 2024 for the Uranus orbiter that the survey recommends as its next flagship, and no earlier than 2026 for a subsequent flagship “orbilander” mission to Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus. She suggested the Uranus orbiter could launch in the early 2030s, though that mission is also the first thing the survey recommends pushing back in the event of budget shortfalls.

NASA Narrows Field of Astrophysics Mission Contenders

NASA announced on Aug. 18 that it has selected four mission concepts to proceed into the final round of competition within the Astrophysics Explorers program, which funds the agency’s least expensive astrophysics missions. The selectees include two missions with a cost cap of $300 million: UVEX, an ultraviolet survey telescope that could reorient rapidly to investigate neutron star mergers, and STAR-X, an X-ray telescope designed to investigate a variety of transient events. The other two have a cost cap of $80 million: MoonBEAM, a CubeSat in a cislunar orbit that would help locate the sources of gamma ray bursts, and LEAP, a polarimeter that would detect gamma ray bursts from the International Space Station. NASA expects to make final selections of one mission in each category in 2024, with the smaller-scale mission targeted for launch in 2027 and the larger-scale mission in 2028.

Events this week
All times are Eastern Daylight Time, unless otherwise noted. Listings do not imply endorsement.

Monday, August 22

National Academies: “Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics,” kickoff meeting 

(continues Tuesday)

 

CSIS: “Alaska's Minerals: A Strategic National Imperative”

(continues Tuesday)

 

Tuesday, August 23

NASA: Lunar Exploration Analysis Group annual meeting 

(continues through Thursday) 

 

NIST: Earthquake Hazards Reduction Advisory Committee meeting

(continues Wednesday)

 

National Academies: “Equity in PreK-12 STEM Education” regional expert consultation one

(continues Wednesday)

 

DHS: President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee meeting

2:00 - 3:00 pm

 

Wednesday, August 24

NASA: Space Weather Council meeting 

10:00 am - 5:00 pm

 

NOAA: Commercial Remote Sensing Advisory Committee meeting

9:00 am - 3:00 pm

 

Atlantic Council: “State of the Space Industrial Base 2022” 

2:00 - 4:00 pm

 

Thursday, August 25

National Academies: Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board meeting 

(continues Friday)

 

National Academies: Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee meeting

2:30 - 4:00 pm

 

National Academies: “Climate Conversations: Wildfire” 

3:00 - 4:00 pm

 

Friday, August 26

National Association of Scholars: “What’s Wrong with Science?” 

3:00 - 4:30 pm

 

Monday, August 29

ARIO: Association of Research Integrity Officers annual meeting 

(continues through Wednesday)

Know of an upcoming science policy event either inside or outside the Beltway? Email us at [email protected].

Opportunities

Nominees Sought for Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel 

The High Energy Physics Advisory Panel is soliciting nominations of scientists to serve on the next Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5). The panel is tasked with recommending a long-term strategic roadmap for the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation under different budget scenarios for particle physics. Nominations should be sent to [email protected] by Aug. 31.

White House Seeks Input on ‘Climate Intervention’ Research Plan

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is seeking input as it develops a five-year plan for research on “rapid climate interventions,” such as solar geoengineering. The plan will identify relevant scientific goals and required modeling and observation capabilities, assess climate impacts and the Earth's radiation budget, and recommend strategies for coordinating federal research and risk mitigation efforts. Congress directed OSTP to develop the plan in appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2022. Comments are due Sep. 9.

ACS Hiring Advocacy Manager

The American Chemical Society’s government affairs team is hiring a manager for its advocacy efforts. Applicants should have at least ten years of relevant experience, including two in a supervisory capacity. 

 

For additional opportunities, please visit www.aip.org/fyi/opportunities. Know of an opportunity for scientists to engage in science policy? Email us at [email protected].

Around the web
News and views currently in circulation. Links do not imply endorsement.

White House

Washington Post: Fauci plans to step down in December after half a century in government

NIH: Statement by Anthony Fauci on intention to step down as NIAID director and chief medical advisor to President Biden

White House: Statement from President Joe Biden on the announcement of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s Departure from NIAID 

Fedscoop: White House Deputy CTO and National AI Director Lynne Parker to step down

University of Tennessee: Lynne Parker to lead AI research and education initiative at UT

OSTP: RFI to inform decadal strategic plan for the Interagency Council for Advancing Meteorological Services

NNSA: Biden visits NNSA-supported manufacturing program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Washington Post: White House speeds monkeypox vaccines, but not everyone likes the pace

OSTP: Scholarly publishing community and research organizations respond to monkeypox outbreak

Lawfare: Can Trump just declare nuclear secrets unclassified? (perspective by Alex Wellerstein)

 

Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): Transcript of Pelosi remarks at press event on CHIPS and Science Act

Government Matters: CHIPS and Science Act will be ‘transformative’ if Congress follows through: science policy writer (video interview with Mitch Ambrose)

Wall Street Journal: The CHIPS Act is simply swing-state pork for lackluster tech companies (perspective by Andy Kessler)

Wall Street Journal: Free enterprise, not central planning, will beat China (perspective by Nikki Haley)

Bloomberg: Bill Gates and the secret push to save Biden’s climate bill

AAAS: STEM earmarks in the 2023 appropriations cycle

 

Science, Society, and the Economy

Wall Street Journal: US companies on pace to bring home record number of overseas jobs, including in high-tech sectors

The Economist: Keeping up America’s standards is the job of NIST

Pew: Pew-White House event focuses on meeting evidence needs of government and communities

Scientific American: The public wants scientists to be more involved in policy debates (perspective by Naomi Oreskes)

Space Review: Chief communicator: How Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols helped NASA

 

Education and Workforce

Protocol: Move over, Silicon Valley. Engineers are quitting for climate tech

National Defense: High skills immigration a national security issue (perspective by Mark Lewis and Divyansh Kaushik)

Noahpinion: The case for high-skilled immigration reform (and how to make it happen) (perspective by Alex Stapp and Jeremy Neufeld)

NBC News: After protests, UC San Diego agrees not to fire Chinese postdoc who raised concerns

Chronicle of Higher Education: More colleges are adding diversity to tenure standards, but the debate’s not settled

Forbes: The CHIPS Act: Why women And non-binary technologists need protections now (perspective by Brenda Wilkerson)

American Astronomical Society: Special message on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization

 

Research Management

Commerce IG: USPTO should strengthen its planning and oversight of patent data capture contracts to manage risks and prevent unnecessary costs (report)

Day One Project: Strengthening policy by bringing evidence to life (perspective by Julian Elliott and Hannah Safford)

Issues in Science and Technology: Architectures of participation: Cloud computing and the future of innovation policy (perspective by Gerald Berk and Annalee Saxenian)

Nature: Nature's take: What's next for the preprint revolution (audio)

ARL: Association of Research Libraries applauds NSF open science investment

Retraction Watch: ‘It’s time to devise a more efficient solution’: Science editor-in-chief wants to change the retraction process

Scholarly Kitchen: Has peer review created a toxic culture in academia? Moving from ‘battering’ to ‘bettering’ in the review of academic research (perspective by Avi Staiman)

Forbes: It’s time to retire the terms ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ science (perspective by Marshall Shepherd)

 

Labs and Facilities

AP: Hawaii seeks end to strife over astronomy on sacred mountain

University of Rochester: Construction begins on new Laser Lab expansion

Fermilab: Excavation of huge caverns for DUNE particle detector is underway

Jefferson Lab: Experts go all in when CEBAF is in trouble

HPCwire: DOE and ORNL dedicate Frontier supercomputer

NASA: NASA awards next-generation spaceflight computing processor contract

LLNL: LLNL joins forces with supercomputing centers in Germany, the UK, and the US to form IASC

General Atomics: Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) tours DIII-D national fusion facility

DOD: Deputy secretaries of defense and energy visit Oak Ridge National Lab

NNSA: Comments invited on notice of intent to prepare a new Los Alamos National Lab site-wide environmental impact statement

AP: Watchdog groups call environmental review at LANL ‘sham’ process

NNSA: NNSA announces exercise of terms for Nevada National Security Site management and operating contract 

 

Computing and Communications

DARPA: DARPA launches program to forge the future of US microelectronics manufacturing

MIT Tech Review: Inside the software that will become the next battle front in US–China chip war

SupChina: US finally passes semiconductor subsidy bill, but it’s not going to help competition with China (perspective by Paul Triolo)

DigiTimes Asia: No need for TSMC to take side between US and China (interview with Richard Thurston)

Nikkei Asia: China-born scientist Gang Chen, once US target, discovers 'best' chip material 

Breaking Defense: Key senators renew push to undo FCC’s Ligado spectrum ruling

IEEE Spectrum: ‘Quantum-safe’ crypto hacked by 10-year-old PC

RAND: Assessments of quantum computing vulnerabilities of national critical infrastructure functions (report)

HPCwire: Glimpse into ORNL Quantum Science Center efforts to find the elusive Majorana and much more

NIST: NIST seeks comments on AI Risk Management Framework guidance, workshop date set

DOE: DOE announces release of the AI Risk Management Playbook 

Commerce Department: Request for comments on AI export competitiveness

 

Space

NASA: NASA identifies candidate regions for landing next Americans on Moon

SpaceNews: SLS arrives at the pad for Artemis I launch

Leonard David: NASA’s Space Launch System: Countdown to controversy

AURA: Nancy Levenson new interim director of Space Telescope Science Institute

Today: Laurie Leshin is first woman to lead NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (video interview)

JPL: Europa Clipper spacecraft kicks assembly into high gear

Ars Technica: Rocket Lab will self-fund a mission to search for life in the clouds of Venus

SupChina: China’s space program, with NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao (audio)

 

Weather, Climate, and Environment

Nature: Scientists welcome ‘enormous’ US climate bill — but call for stronger action

Volts: Diving further into the Inflation Reduction Act (audio)

Federation of American Scientists: Environmental data in the Inflation Reduction Act

ScienceInsider: Can farmers fight climate change? New US law gives them billions to try

USGS: David Applegate sworn in as director of USGS 

USGS: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law helps map underground geology across Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia

DARPA: DARPA offering prizes for automating aspects of USGS’s critical mineral assessments

WUSA9: Montgomery County is working with NOAA and the NIHHIS to keep people safe during extreme heat events

Nature: We must get a grip on forest science — before it’s too late (editorial)

 

Energy

New York Times: Expansion of clean energy loans is ‘sleeping giant’ of climate bill

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: US will hash out clean energy details with global leaders in Pittsburgh

Financial Times: EU digs for more lithium, cobalt and graphite in green energy push

New Atlantis: Can the US wrest control of rare-earth elements back from China? (perspective by Tristan Abbey)

Berkeley Lab: Report highlights technology advancement and value of wind energy

GeekWire: Nuclear energy company co-founded by Bill Gates raises $750 million, one of the largest rounds in Seattle tech history

Nuclear Newswire: Abilene Christian University applies for molten salt research reactor construction permit

Nuclear Newswire: The state of US fusion

 

Defense

DOD: Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks' remarks on American innovation at Purdue University

National Interest: The Pentagon needs an innovation overhaul (perspective by Melissa Flagg)

Acquisition Talk: SBIR mills, dual-use tech, and the case for reform with Ben Van Roo (audio)

Reuters: Russia suspends START arms inspections over US travel curbs

Wilson Center: Re-writing the constitutional history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

NNSA: NNSA head Jill Hruby visits South Korea to discuss national security, nonproliferation, and nuclear security issues

Exchange Monitor: Early upgrades finished at Nevada site’s underground subcritical nuclear test lab, NNSA says

Stimson Center: DEI in nuclear security culture: Insider threat assessments at nuclear facilities (perspective by Sneha Nair)

Nature: Nuclear war between two nations could spark global famine

National Academies: Effectiveness and efficiency of defense environmental cleanup activities of DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (report)

 

Biomedical

STAT: In an effort to address its missteps during COVID, CDC plans an 'ambitious' agency 

ScienceInsider: Where did the pandemic start? Anywhere but here, argue papers by Chinese scientists echoing party line

New York Times: FDA clears path for hearing aids to be sold over the counter

OSTP: Making technology accessible: How policy delivers savings and support for Americans with hearing loss

STAT: ‘A poster child’ for diversity in science: Black engineers work to fix long-ignored bias in oxygen readings

Washington Post: The Inflation Reduction Act reflects the changing politics of RX drug (perspective by Jeremy Greene)

HHS IG: NIH did not ensure that all clinical trial results were reported in accordance with federal requirements (report)

NSF: Integrative biological science and training are the focus of four new institutes

 

International Affairs

Wall Street Journal: US approves nearly all tech exports to China, data shows

Wall Street Journal: Chinese research ship arrives in Sri Lanka over India’s objections

South China Morning Post: How Singapore’s scientists partner with Chinese peers despite complicated politics

China Daily: China–Russia science cooperation deepens

University World News: Crimes against the world — Russia’s attacks on universities

Nature: Will war in Ukraine mark a new era for European defense research?

The Guardian: UK research institute apologizes for rejecting Russian scientist

New York Times: A new Cold War could slow the advance of science (perspective by Michael Riordan)

BBC News: UK government enters endgame in Europe research standoff

Politico: Scientists face hard choices as UK prepares to abandon EU projects for years to come

Science|Business: New European Innovation Agenda to speed development and scale-up of innovation across Europe (perspective by Mariya Gabriel)

HPCwire: Australian government unveils new defense, weather supercomputers