A Periodic Federal Science Update

The White House Releases Reports on Improving Ocean Research and Mapping -- The Office of Science and Technology Policy released three reports this week authored by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC)’s Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability’s Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST) that describe Federal actions on two pressing issues: ocean acidification and ocean and coastal mapping. 

Two reports released today respond to the 2014 Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring of Ocean Acidification, which was prepared pursuant to the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2009 (FOARAM). The “Implementation of the Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring of Ocean Acidification” report identifies the needs and activities described in the Strategic Plan that are being addressed by Federal agencies. These efforts will enable agencies to better identify and address gaps in research and information on ocean acidification. To complement the Implementation Plan, the “Fourth Report on Federally Funded Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Activities” responds to a Congressional request for biennial updates on implementation activities under FOARAM, identifies expenditures for these activities, and details how Federal agencies are implementing the Strategic Plan in a coordinated and complimentary manner.

The Progress Made in Implementing the Ocean and Coastal Mapping Integration Act: 2014-2016” report released today responds to a Congressional request for biennial updates on implementation activities under the Ocean and Coastal Mapping Integration Act (OCMIA). This report describes activities and accomplishments over the past two years, including enhanced agency coordination of ocean and coastal mapping activities, that are providing stakeholders and the public with geospatial information that supports shoreline mapping, nautical charting, storm and flood vulnerability analyses, fisheries management, and numerous other interests.

Additional information on Federally funded ocean-acidification research and monitoring can be found here. For the 2010 and 2012 reports to Congress on ocean and coastal mapping see here and here.

White House Releases Reports on Science and Technology in Service of National Disaster Preparedness, Reduction, and Resilience -- The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability and Committee on Homeland and National Security, this week released a report, a plan, and a review of the Nation's preparedness for and resilience to potential disasters, whether natural or manmade:

The National Preparedness Science and Technology Task Force Report: Identifying Science and Technology Opportunities for National Preparedness;

The Implementation Roadmap for the Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Research and Development Plan; and

The Homeland Biodefense Science and Technology Capability Review.

These reports provide insights to researchers working to improve the Nation's disaster preparedness and to agency officials and other decision makers as they develop research and development plans and priorities.  More information is available here.

DOE Announces Advanced Manufacturing Funding Opportunity – The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced up to $35 million in available funding to support early-stage, innovative technologies and solutions in advanced manufacturing that are not significantly represented in EERE’s current portfolio.  EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) works with universities, national laboratories, and for-profit and nonprofit partners to identify and solve technology challenges in manufacturing. AMO anticipates making approximately 24 to 40 awards to fund projects for up to 36 months. Individual awards may vary from $250,000 to $2.5 million. View the full funding opportunity announcement.

Two ARPA-E Funding Opportunities Announced -- ARPA-E has announced up to $9.5 million in funding for a new program that seeks to develop advanced information technologies that could dramatically reduce the need for in-person communication and thus reduce transportation energy consumption and $25 million for a new program to significantly expand the production of macroalgae as an economically viable, renewable feedstock for biofuel and energy applications. 

The Facsimile Appearance to Create Energy Savings (FACES) program seeks to develop communication systems that enable real-time capture and digitization of a user to create a three-dimensional digital representation that can be displayed in a highly realistic and natural way.   Developing these technologies could allow users to leverage information networks for their communication-based travel needs instead of physically traveling, potentially reducing U.S. annual energy consumption by a significant margin. To achieve this, FACES technologies must provide an experience that meets or exceeds the current benefits of in-person interactions. ARPA-E believes that technical advances in computer technology, sensors, displays, computer graphics, and information networks will allow this high-quality communication across any distance. The deadline to submit a Concept Paper for FACES is 5 p.m. ET on January 16, 2017. Additional information, including the full FOA and how to find project teaming partners, is available on ARPA-E’s online application portal, ARPA-E eXCHANGE

Meanwhile ARPA-E’s MacroAlgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) program will spend about $25 million to develop innovative cultivation and harvest systems and additional supporting tools necessary to produce macroalgae biomass at a scale required for fuel production and at a cost competitive with land-based biofuel feedstocks. If successful, MARINER is expected to deploy new technologies to help bolster U.S. energy security and diversify U.S. fuel sources. Macroalgae, also referred to as seaweed, are a set of exceptionally diverse multicellular, non-vascular marine plants. Beyond the most common applications of direct human consumption and food additives, there are additional opportunities for large-scale use of macroalgae in the production of fuels and chemicals. The current state of macroalgae mariculture, however, is not capable of scaling to support a seaweed-to-fuels industry.  The MARINER program seeks to increase macroalgae yield and expand into off-shore environments to increase the areas of deployment by two orders of magnitude above current global levels, all while significantly reducing cost. These transformational technologies could potentially enable a U.S.-based macroalgae industry capable of producing up to two quads—approximately 2 percent of U.S. primary energy consumption—of bioenergy by 2050, without competing for freshwater or farmland currently dedicated to food production.

ARPA-E encourages outstanding scientists, engineers, and practitioners from different organizations, scientific disciplines, and technology sectors to form new project teams for the FACES and MARINER programs. ARPA-E believes that interdisciplinary and cross-organizational collaborations can facilitate scientific and technological discoveries that a single group alone would not be able to achieve.  The deadline to submit a Concept Paper for MARINER is 5 p.m. ET on February 14, 2017.  Additional information, including the full FOA and how to find project teaming partners, is available on ARPA-E’s online application portal, ARPA-E eXCHANGE

Solicitation for the Operation and Management of the Ocean Observatories Initiative Released by NSF -- The OOI is a large scale ocean observing system constructed and deployed under NSF sponsorship and oversight as a Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) Project.  The system includes an integrated network of cabled and uncabled arrays of instrumentation, distributed in various coastal and global ocean locations, to facilitate Ocean Science research. Since construction was completed in 2016, the OOI has been in operational status at an approximate funding level of $55,000,000 ($55M) per year.  The existing Cooperative Agreement (CA) for Construction and Initial Operation of the facility extends from September 2009 through April 2017.   A National Research Council (NRC) review commissioned by NSF to examine the balance of Ocean Science research and infrastructure costs over the next decade resulted in NSF developing an implementation plan that will require significant changes to the facility operation envisioned by the current CA.  The new approaches required for managing and operating the OOI in the best interest of U.S. science will most effectively be implemented by a new operating model that encourages greater efficiency, innovation, and collaboration.  The solicitation seeks the services of a qualified organization to provide scientific and technical management and operation of the OOI. A letter of intent is due by January 18, 2016.  Additional details for the OOI management and operations solicitation is available here.

NIEHS and NSF Release Solicitation for Centers for Oceans and Human Health: Impacts of Climate Change on Oceans and Great Lakes -- NSF and the NIEHS are jointly releasing a funding opportunity announcement -- RFA-ES-16-009  to solicit applications for multi-component projects that will develop multidisciplinary research centers focused on human health effects related to events and exposures in marine or Great Lakes environments that are associated with climate change. The NIEHS and NSF previously released three collaborative Funding Opportunity Announcements to support Oceans and Human Health and the Great Lakes and Human Health, that fostered collaborations between investigators with expertise in biomedical disciplines and the ocean sciences. The first effort solicited P50 applications that supported three research focal areas: Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs); vector and water-borne pathogens; and Marine Natural Products. The second solicitation supported P01 program projects using multi-disciplinary approaches to study HABs and marine pollution. The third solicitation supported both R01 and P01 projects, focused on HAB research and pollution, featured an expanded scope to include Great Lakes Basin environments and considered aspects of climate change impacts on both marine and Great Lakes environments. The current initiative will award $7 million to continue support of these scientific themes with an added focus on how climate change impacts environmental health risks related to water bodies.

Office of Naval Research (ONR) Releases Solicitation for Additive Manufacturing Alloys -- The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is interested in receiving proposals for Additive Manufacturing Alloys for Naval Environments (AMANE). The objective of this research opportunity is to design, develop and optimize new metallic alloy compositions for additive manufacturing (AM) that are resistant to the effects of the Naval/maritime environment. This program will use a fundamental Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) framework coupled with experimentation to relate variations in alloy chemistry, AM processing parameters, and post-processing conditions to the mechanical and electrochemical/corrosion properties that can be achieved. Participants will use this knowledge to identify an alloy composition range optimized to fabricate robust AM components that is resistant to the effects of exposure in a maritime environment.  More information can be found here.

Funding Opportunity in Commerce Department’s Precision Measurement Grant Program -- Since 1970, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), as part of its research program, has provided funding under the Precision Measurement Grant Program (PMGP) primarily to universities and colleges so that faculty may conduct significant research in the field of fundamental measurement or the determination of fundamental constants. NIST sponsors these research projects primarily to encourage basic, measurement-related research in universities and colleges and other research laboratories and to foster contacts between NIST scientists and those faculty members of academic institutions and other researchers who are actively engaged in such work. The PMGP also is intended to make it possible for researchers to pursue new ideas for which other sources of support may be difficult to find. There is some latitude in research topics that will be considered under the PMGP. More information regarding this funding opportunity is available here.

State Government R&D Expenditures Total More Than $2.2 billion in FY 2015 -- State government agency expenditures for research and development totaled $2.2 billion in FY 2015, an increase of 16.9% from FY 2014. Five state governments (California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Ohio) accounted for 61% of all state government R&D in FY 2015, an increase from 59% in FY 2014. This NSF InfoBrief presents summary statistics from the FY 2014 and FY 2015 Survey of State Government R&D, sponsored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics within the National Science Foundation.

Bureau of the Census Seeks Nominations to 2020 Advisory Committee – The Bureau of the Census within the Department of Commerce is requesting nominations of organizations to the Census Bureau 2020 Advisory Committee.  The Committee provides formal review and feedback to 2020 Census plans and execution to devise strategies to increase census awareness, reduce barriers to response, and enhance the public’s trust and willingness to participate in the census.  Member organizations will be selected from the public and private sectors, and have expertise in census and survey matters.  Members are needed to help address specific issues including: diverse populations; national, state, local and tribal interest; hard-to-count populations; research; community-based organizations; academia; business interests; marketing and media industries; and professional associations.  Read more about the nomination process here.