STEM diversity

The Department of Energy is ramping up its equity-focused activities by fleshing out the details of its Justice40 initiative, which channels federal investments into disadvantaged communities, and by announcing new funding opportunities for minority-serving institutions.

At a recent White House summit, fusion experts discussed ways to accelerate the development of commercial fusion energy and embed justice considerations into the foundations of the nascent industry.

The National Academies' latest decadal survey of astronomy and astrophysics recommends federal agencies expand their efforts to address persistent demographic disparities in the field and urges astronomers to deepen their engagement with local communities.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has launched an “ideation challenge” to collect public input on ways to increase diversity in STEM fields.

The Biden administration is seeking to pump billions of dollars into research projects and infrastructure upgrades at minority-serving institutions, though so far Congress has advanced less ambitious spending plans.

Eric Lander, tapped in January to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is now one of President Biden's last Cabinet officials yet to be confirmed. At his nomination hearing last month, Lander addressed controversies that prompted concerns among senators and defended his commitment to equity.

The House and Senate versions of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act continue multi-year efforts to address national security risks related to climate change, bolster and diversify the defense STEM workforce, and increase defense labs’ ability to collaborate and innovate.

The National Science Foundation is insisting that new discipline-specific emphasis areas included in its latest solicitation for the Graduate Research Fellowship Program will not change the way the agency reviews applications.

In the midst of a national reckoning over systemic racism and police violence, the physical sciences community is searching for ways to deepen its efforts to make physics more inclusive and equitable.  

Starting this month, NASA-funded institutions are required to notify the agency whenever they determine a principal or co-investigator has violated policies concerning harassment or assault, or if the personnel are placed on leave due to a harassment investigation. NASA modeled the policy on one first implemented by the National Science Foundation in 2018.