The Week of January 23, 2023

 

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

The Week of January 23, 2023

  • Congress Continues Organizing Policy and Spending Panels
  • Research Security Workshop to Reflect on US Classification Policy
     
  • Ocean Acoustics Study Launching
  • APS Holds Annual Leadership Meeting
  • Report Sketches Out New Directions for Particle Physics
  • Kansas Chemist Receives Light Sentence in Talent Program Case
     
  • DOE Accepting Proposals for ‘Earthshot’ Research Centers 
  • Super Collider Director Roy Schwitters Dead at 78
What's Ahead

Patty Murray and Susan Collins at a committee hearing

The incoming leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee are Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), left, and Susan Collins (R-ME), pictured here at a 2015 hearing. (Image credit – Senate HELP Committee)

Congress Continues Organizing Policy and Spending Panels

The Senate returns from recess this week and will join the House in filling out the rosters of its committees. Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are respectively taking over as chair and ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, replacing retired Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Richard Shelby (R-AL). The changeover will also involve shuffling leadership of the subcommittees that draft spending legislation, though many subcommittees may retain their leaders from the previous Congress. On the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is taking over as the top Republican from Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), who is now the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee will continue to be led by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Barrasso (R-WY). Meanwhile, the House has just finalized the number of seats available on each of its committees and is still populating them with members and appointing subcommittee leaders. Republicans so far have named 15 members for the House Science Committee with six vacancies remaining, while Democrats have not yet announced their roster for the panel.

Research Security Workshop to Reflect on US Classification Policy

The National Academies is hosting a “meeting of experts” on Wednesday and Thursday focused on whether the U.S. should revisit a presidential directive on research security known as NSDD-189. Issued by President Reagan and reaffirmed by subsequent administrations, the directive establishes that when national security concerns compel restrictions the appropriate mechanism of control is classification and that research deemed unclassified should not be subject to controls. This week’s meeting will also review a recent Academies report on research security that argues NSDD-189 “remains an important statement of principle for U.S. policy,” but, in focusing on the products rather than process of research, it does not address “the need to protect access to top talent or to preserve open environments that foster disruptive discoveries.” The meeting will begin with an address by the National Science Foundation’s Chief of Research Security Strategy and Policy Rebecca Keiser, who is sponsoring the workshop, and by Tarun Chhabra, senior director for technology and national security at the National Security Council, who will discuss technology priorities in the Biden administration’s National Security Strategy.

Ocean Acoustics Study Launching

The National Academies is holding a kickoff meeting next Monday for a study that will assess the demand for ocean acoustics expertise across a variety of applications over the next decade and identify the necessary training programs required to meet that demand. It will also evaluate the current status of ocean acoustics education in the U.S. and explore strategies to strengthen workforce recruitment and retention. The committee is sponsored by the Naval Research Lab and is chaired by University of New Hampshire acoustics professor Jennifer Miksis-Olds.

APS Holds Annual Leadership Meeting

The American Physical Society’s Annual Leadership Meeting is taking place Tuesday through Friday in Washington, D.C. Sessions include a panel discussion on the ethics of emerging technologies and another panel of policymakers addressing the prospects for science policy in a divided Congress. A keynote address will be delivered by Matt Mountain, president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which builds and operates astronomical observatories on behalf of the National Science Foundation. Attendees will also hear from the society’s new president, University of Chicago theoretical physicist Robert Rosner. In a recent interview with APS News, Rosner said his priorities for the coming year include continuing the Delta-Phy diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative, reviewing APS committee operations, contending with the transition to open access publishing, and strengthening relations with societies such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and AIP. (APS is an AIP Member Society.)

In Case You Missed It

An aerial view of the Tevatron ring at Fermilab

If the aspirations of last year’s “Snowmass” summer study come to pass, Fermilab could host a “Higgs factory” collider or a high-energy muon collider at some point in the post-2035 timeframe. The lab has not operated a high-energy collider since it shut down its Tevatron in 2011. (Image credit – Reidar Hahn / Fermilab)

Report Sketches Out New Directions for Particle Physics

Organizers of last year’s “Snowmass” particle physics strategy conference released a summary report last week that recommends priority topics and projects for the U.S. to pursue over the next decade. Distilled from the contributions of thousands of physicists, the report will serve as a key input to the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel, which will propose a budget-constrained 10-year plan to guide federal support for the field. The Snowmass report endorses the five main “science drivers” used in the previous P5 report, released in 2014, while also suggesting an additional focus on precision measurements of rare processes. Looking ahead to major projects for the post-2035 timeframe, the report proposes the U.S. prepare to “participate in or build” an electron-positron “Higgs factory” and a subsequent high-energy muon or hadron collider, establish an Advanced Muon Facility at Fermilab, and contribute to a next-generation gravitational wave observatory. The P5 process is about to shift into gear, with its first meeting scheduled for Feb. 6. In addition, a National Academies committee that is conducting a parallel survey of elementary particle physics is holding a meeting this week to hear from the directors of high energy physics programs at five national labs.

Kansas Chemist Receives Light Sentence in Talent Program Case

A federal judge declined to send chemist Franklin Tao to prison last week after Justice Department prosecutors requested a 30-month sentence. Tao had previously been found guilty of wire fraud and making false statements, based on an association with a Chinese talent-recruitment program he had not disclosed to the agencies funding his research or to his employer, the University of Kansas. However, the judge threw out the fraud convictions on the grounds that Tao had not schemed to deprive the government of anything of value. For the remaining false statement charge, the judge sentenced Tao to two years of supervision, without home detention or electronic monitoring, and explained at length why she did not believe his conduct amounted to espionage or even an attempt to receive money he was not entitled to. The judge concluded for instance that Tao’s deceit at one point concerning his whereabouts involved his exploration of an employment opportunity in China. “Frankly, a lot of people go out in the world and apply for other jobs and don't tell their employers what they're up to, for obvious reasons,” she said. Last year, the Justice Department announced it was recalibrating its prosecution of academics, delegating enforcement to science agencies in cases only involving nondisclosure of connections, though it proceeded with ongoing cases such as Tao’s. Tao and his defenders have argued he did nothing wrong and that his prosecution was unjust, costing him his job and over a million dollars in legal fees. He plans to appeal the false statement conviction.

DOE Accepting Proposals for ‘Earthshot’ Research Centers

The Department of Energy announced last week it plans to provide up to $200 million over four years for the inaugural cohort of “Energy Earthshot Research Centers,” which will have annual budgets of up to $5 million each. The centers will be led by DOE national labs and bring together multidisciplinary teams to conduct fundamental research related to one of DOE’s six Energy Earthshots, which set aggressive goals for driving down the cost of promising energy technologies. Each Earthshot is associated with specific research thrusts:

  • Hydrogen Shot centers will focus on the science of hydrogen production as well as methods for quantifying hydrogen sources and sinks.
  • Long Duration Storage Shot centers will support research relevant to technology development across electrochemical, electrothermal, electromechanical, and chemical energy storage.
  • Carbon Negative Shot centers will focus on developing methods for biological and geological carbon sequestration, investigating the fundamental kinetics of carbonization to advance direct air capture, and developing quantitative tools to monitor and assess carbon removal technologies.
  • Enhanced Geothermal Shot centers will focus on experimental and computation research on the mechanics of geothermal systems, developing new approaches for geothermal data collection, and understanding the behavior of materials within the extreme conditions of geothermal wells.
  • Floating Offshore Wind Shot centers will focus on improving materials for floating turbines, developing environmental models to inform the siting of wind farms, and developing technologies for energy transmission and storage.
  • Industrial Heat Shot centers will focus on reducing the carbon footprint of heating, developing alternatives to industrial processes that require heat, and improving materials and processes to reduce heat usage.

Super Collider Director Roy Schwitters Dead at 78

Roy Schwitters standing in front of a particle detector.

Roy Schwitters and the Collider Detector at Fermilab. (Image credit – Fermilab, courtesy of AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Physics Today Collection)

University of Texas at Austin physicist Roy Schwitters, widely known as the director of the ill-fated Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) project, died on Jan. 10 at the age of 78. After receiving his doctorate from MIT in 1971, Schwitters spent the first part of his career at SLAC, where he played an integral role in the 1974 discovery of the J/psi meson, a crucial milestone in the acceptance of quarks as real particles. Shortly after moving to Harvard University, in 1980 he took on the additional role of co-leading the group building the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF), which began operating in 1985. In 1989, with Fermilab blossoming as a particle collider facility of then-unmatched capability, Schwitters was recruited to direct construction of the still-more-ambitious SSC in Texas. However, that project lost congressional favor in the early 1990s, with some lawmakers protesting its growing costs and arguing it was mismanaged. A frustrated Schwitters complained during a 1993 interview with the New York Times, “We should be devoting ourselves to completing this machine as rapidly and cheaply as possible, and getting on with real science. Instead, our time and energy are being sapped by bureaucrats and politicians. The SSC is becoming a victim of the revenge of the C students.” Congress withdrew funding later that year, marking a turning point in the history of U.S. particle physics — and arguably in the country’s science policy. Schwitters resigned from the project and soon joined the JASON science advisory group, analyzing problems in national security and ultimately chairing the group’s steering committee. He told AIP in a 2020 oral history that JASON gave him new direction after the high-profile demise of the SSC. “I considered it, frankly, a lease on life for me,” he said.

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

Monday, January 23

AIAA: 2023 Science and Technology Forum and Exposition

(continues through Friday)

 

National Security Space Association: Defense & Intelligence Space Conference

(continues through Wednesday)

 

Federal Demonstration Partnership: January meeting

(continues through Wednesday)

 

National Academies: “Roundtable on Macroeconomics and Climate-related Risks and Opportunities,” meeting one

10:00 am - 4:00 pm

 

CSPO: “Science on the Offense: Technology Assessment, Anticipatory Governance, and the Future U.S. Innovation System”

3:00 - 5:00 pm

 

NSPN: “Data Diplomacy Series Kickoff: An Introduction to Data Diplomacy”

5:00 - 6:00 pm

 

Tuesday, January 24

APS: Annual Leadership Meeting

(continues through Friday)

 

NASA: Small Bodies Assessment Group meeting

(continues Wednesday)

 

National Nanotechnology Initiative: Nano4EARTH Kick-off Workshop”

(continues Wednesday)

 

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Doomsday Clock announcement

10:00 am

 

National Academies: “One Health Approach for Effective Biodefense and Global Health Security”

1:00 - 2:00 pm

 

CSIS: “A Conversation with Under Secretary of State for for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose Fernandez”

2:00 - 2:45 pm

 

DOE: Secretary of Energy Advisory Board meeting

12:30 - 1:30 pm

 

Wednesday, January 25

National Academies: “Fundamental Research, Openness, and Protecting the U.S. Technological Advantage: NSDD-189 in the New Global Context”

(continues Thursday)

 

BIS: Information Systems Technical Advisory Committee meeting

9:00 am

 

World Resources Institute: “Stories to Watch 2023”

9:00 - 10:15 am

 

ITIF: “Should Congress Pass President Biden’s Tech Agenda?”

10:30 am - 12:00 pm

 

Carnegie Endowment: “Advancing the Clean Energy Transition in 2023: A Conversation with Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Geoffrey Pyatt”

1:00 - 2:00 pm

 

Brookings Institution: “Accelerating Federal, State, and Local Investments in the U.S. Infrastructure Workforce”

2:00 - 3:15 pm

 

National Academies: “Roundtable on Mentorship, Well-Being, and Professional Development in STEMM,” meeting one

3:30 - 5:00 pm

 

Thursday, January 26

NSF / NASA / DOE: Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee meeting

(continues Friday)

 

NIST: AI Risk Management Framework launch

10:00 - 11:45 am

 

House: “A Roundtable on American Energy Security”

10:30 am, Energy and Commerce Committee

 

Wilson Center: “Silicon Lifeline: Western Electronics at the Heart of Russia's War Machine”

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

 

EESI: “Congressional Climate Camp: Budget and Appropriations Briefing”

2:00 - 3:30 pm

 

ESAL: “Scientists Needed: Using Your STEM Skills in Local Government”

12:30 - 1:30 pm

 

ANS: “What About the Waste? Managing the Nuclear Fuel Cycle”

6:00 - 7:00 pm

 

POSTPONED -- Asian American Scholar Forum: “Know Your Rights on Airport Enforcement and Border Harassment”

8:00 pm

 

Friday, January 27

DOE: “BES User Facility Science: Providing the Foundations for Forefront Energy, Microelectronics, Low-Carbon Manufacturing, and Biopreparedness”

12:00 pm

 

NIH: “National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity”

1:00 - 3:00 pm

 

National Academies: “Elementary Particle Physics: Progress and Promise,” meeting five

11:00 am - 3:00 pm

 

BIS: Emerging Technology Technical Advisory Committee meeting

2:40 - 4:00 pm

 

Sunday, January 29

CESSE: Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives meeting

(continues through Wednesday)

 

Monday, January 30

UN: Open-Ended Working Group on Reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviors

(continues through Friday)

 

National Academies: “Ocean Acoustics Education and Expertise,” meeting one

9:00 am - 1:30 pm

 

National Academies: “Opportunities and Challenges for Digital Twins in Biomedical Sciences”

10:00 am - 4:30 pm

 

National Academies: “Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences Research in Space,” meeting nine

1:00 - 2:00 pm

 

National Academies: “Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics: Panel on the Physics of the Sun and Heliosphere,” teleconference three

1:00 - 2:30 pm

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

Opportunities

UCAR Hiring Director of Government Relations

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research is hiring a director for government relations. Applicants should have a master’s degree in business, public policy, or a related field and at least ten years of relevant experience working with policymakers, as well as expert knowledge of science policy and familiarity with the Earth systems science community. Applications are due Feb. 6.

Space Telescope Science Institute Seeking Director

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy is seeking a director for the Space Telescope Science Institute, which leads science operations for the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, and the in-development Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. Applicants should have experience leading large scientific organizations, preferably in astronomy or a closely-related field. Application review will begin March 3.

Science Policy Fellowship Programs Seeking Managers

The Federation of American Scientists is seeking a director to oversee its policy fellowship programs, which will place 100 to 200 fellows across government and other policy organizations annually. Candidates should have at least ten years of professional experience in the federal government, science or technology policy, policy think-tanks or nonprofits, consulting, recruiting or technology. The Schmidt Science Fellows program is also hiring an admissions officer to manage the nomination and selection of new fellows. Candidates should have experience in a STEM field and familiarity with the academic sector, and those with an advanced degree are strongly preferred.

 

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

Politico: Former White House COVID-19 chief Jeff Zients to be Biden’s next chief of staff

E&E News: White House climate officials to watch in 2023

OSTP: National strategy released to put nature on the nation’s balance sheet

 

Congress

Politico: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is pushing Europeans to stop worrying and love the Inflation Reduction Act

The Hill: The time is now for Biden and Congress to follow through on CHIPS, science, and clean energy (perspective by Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL) and Thomas Costabile)

Inside Higher Education: ‘Transformational’: Federal earmarks a boon for higher ed

House Appropriations Committee: Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) asks agency heads on potential impacts of proposed House Republican cuts

House Science Committee: Republicans raise concerns White House is giving conflicting guidance on AI

Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA): Allen introduces bill to prevent NSF research grants from going to China

China Talk: Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) on AI, the China committee, and industrial policy (audio interview)

New York Times: Facing calls for his resignation, Rep. George Santos (R-NY) lands two House committees: Small business and science

Wall Street Journal: Finance chiefs hope new Congress will revisit tax rule on R&D expenses

Wall Street Journal: Why does the US tax code penalize R&D? (perspective by Alex Muresianu)

 

Science, Society, and the Economy

New York Times: Piloting a National Network for Critical Technology Assessment (interview with Erica Fuchs)

Washington Post: US politics is awful — but our science and technology offer hope for the future (perspective by Max Boot)

Issues in Science and Technology: To support evidence-based policymaking, bring researchers and policymakers together (perspective by D. Max Crowley and J. Taylor Scott)

Union of Concerned Scientists: Confronting the climate crisis with scientist activism: The essential role of rule breakers (perspective by Erika Spanger-Siegfried)

Science: Victorian values permeate contemporary scientific culture, maintains a historian (book review)

 

Education and Workforce

Nature: Young physicists say ethics rules are being ignored

Nature: PhD training is no longer fit for purpose — it needs reform now (editorial)

Nature: You’ve heard of mentorship in science, but what about sponsorship? (perspective by Christine Parsons and Pat O’Connor)

Optics and Photonics News: Wanted: Optics and photonics technicians

BAMS: Atmospheric sciences bachelor’s degree recipients: Trends, early career earnings, and student debt, 2015–19

Federal News Network: USDA has recovered from attrition, but new research staff is less diverse, less experienced

DOJ: Castro Valley resident pleads guilty to illegally exporting American aviation technology to Beijing university

 

Research Management

MIT: A new resource for informal international collaborations

ScienceInsider: A US judge lectures the government on how academic research works

ScienceInsider: National Science Board is about to get much more diverse

ScienceInsider: To reduce ‘reputational bias,’ NIH may revamp how grant proposals are scored

Slate: I wrote a viral screed against peer review. I got some emails (perspective by Adam Mastroianni)

Nature: Multimillion-dollar trade in paper authorships alarms publishers

Wired: Scientific fraud is slippery to catch — but easier to combat

Nature: ChatGPT listed as author on research papers: many scientists disapprove

MIT Technology Review: Astronomers prepared for years for JWST observations, developing algorithms that can rapidly turn its data into usable information

New York Times: What happened to all of science’s big breakthroughs?

Physics in Perspective: Small physics (editorial)

 

Labs and Facilities

Space.com: This new authority will decide the fate of astronomy atop Hawaii's contested Maunakea volcano

Fermilab: Excavation of massive underground caverns for DUNE halfway complete

CERN: Civil engineering work for major upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider completed

Exchange Monitor: Sandia Ion Beam Laboratory reopened after tritium incident

NSTA: National Science Teaching Association has decided to sell the current NSTA headquarters building and not to move forward with the construction of a new Center for Science Education

 

Computing and Communications

Bloomberg: US poised for Dutch, Japanese help on China chip crackdown

Wall Street Journal: Rebalancing chip-supply chains will take decades, Intel CEO says

CSET: Betting the house: Leveraging the CHIPS and Science Act to increase US microelectronics supply chain resilience (report)

China Talk: CHIPS Act: A how-to guide (audio)

ASPI: The time is right for an Australian semiconductor moonshot

Nextgov: AI research task force votes to send final report to Congress, president

Science|Business: US report urges democratic countries to clamp down on AI research links with China

HPCwire: Top high-performance computing players creating new security architecture amid neglect

 

Space

SpaceNews: NASA faces ‘difficult choices’ for current and future Earth science missions

NASA: NASA’s Geotail mission operations come to an end after 30 years

NASA: NASA’s Lucy mission suspending further solar array deployment activities

Nature: Why the Hubble telescope is still in the game — even as JWST wows

ESA: Hera’s time of trial

ESA: European Space Agency director general’s annual press briefing (video)

SpaceNews: NASA to cooperate on Israeli astrophysics mission

Nature: What’s happened to China’s first Mars rover?

SpaceNews: Report calls on NASA to improve coordination of Artemis international partnerships

SpaceNews: NASA scales back project to send scientists to International Space Station

AIAA: Nuclear rocket redux

The Economist: Ideas for finding ET are getting more inventive

 

Weather, Climate, and Environment

NOAA: Jainey Bavishi begins as deputy NOAA administrator

Nextgov: NASA, USGS seek info for Landsat Next ground station

The Verge: Mexico bans solar geoengineering experiments after startup’s field tests

Bloomberg: How will geoengineering work? Time for some game theory (perspective by Tyler Cowen)

E&E News: Why methane capture is so difficult

E&E News: Fake hurricanes and oil protests: How the Fed will test banks

New York Times: Bomb cyclone? Or just windy with a chance of hyperbole?

 

Energy

Science|Business: New bill to boost EU’s position in the global clean tech race

E&E News: US strikes at China with EV battery deal

Reuters: NASA awards $425 million to Boeing for fuel-efficient airliner research project

DOE: Michael Goff named principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear energy

DOE: NRC certifies first US small modular reactor design

CleanTechnica: The nuclear fallacy: Why small modular reactors can't compete with renewable energy (perspective by Michael Barnard)

Utility Dive: Small modular reactors could hold key to electrifying heavy transport: Michigan study

Physics World: National Ignition Facility’s ignition milestone sparks fresh push for laser fusion

Lex Fridman: Nuclear fusion and the future of energy (video interview with Dennis Whyte)

 

Defense

CSBA: Innovating for great power competition: An examination of service and joint innovation efforts (report)

RAND: Outsmarting agile adversaries in the electromagnetic spectrum (report)

The Wire China: Did Eric Dai expose a Chinese scheme to steal critical military technology? Or did he steal millions of dollars from a Chinese business partner by exploiting geopolitical tensions?

National Academies: Logistics and manufacturing under attack: Future pathways (report)

SpaceNews: With Starshield, SpaceX readies for battle

Financial Times: 300 nuclear missiles are heading your way. You must respond. What now?

 

Biomedical

Roll Call: NIH missing top leadership at start of a divided Congress

Vanity Fair: Can America learn this pandemic’s lessons before the next one hits?

STAT: FDA scientists propose an annual COVID shot matched to current strains

GAO: HHS could improve oversight of research involving enhanced potential pandemic pathogens (report)

Washington Post: Lab-leak fears are putting virologists under scrutiny

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Researchers hacked a lab’s pathogen containment system. Was it a good idea to publish the results? (perspective by George Poste and David Gillum)

New York Times: What do we owe lab animals?

Chemistry World: Plan for medical isotope production center floated by Welsh government

 

International Affairs

Washington Post: Russia's state nuclear company Rosatom aids war effort, leading to calls for sanctions

Nature: China is opening up after 3 years — what does it mean for research?

Science: Under pressure to reinvent itself, the Chinese Academy of Sciences should concentrate on managing large-scale research infrastructures (perspective by Xiyi Yang, et al.)

Nature: How Grenoble has mastered industry–academia science collaborations

Nature: Why Dutch universities are stepping up support for academics facing threats and intimidation

Bloomberg: Sunak urged to cut UK use of Taiwan chips due to China risk

Research Professional: World needs better data-sharing for research, says European Research Council president

Research Professional: Frequent blackouts cripple South African labs