Federal Science Partners Periodic Update

Climate Change Likely to Get Increased Attention in the 116th Congress – In January, as the Democrats prepare to take control of the House of Representatives, a number of key Members of the House have issued statements or press releases announcing their intention to use their leadership or committee position to hold hearings to highlight the importance of climate change including its causes, its impacts, the research and technological challenges society faces in responding, and the knowledge gaps that need to be addressed.  The current Minority Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to be elected to the position of Speaker of the House, has proposed the re-establishment of a select committee on climate change.  Such a committee existed the last time Rep Pelosi served as Speaker.  However, the likely chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Palone (D-NJ) has indicated that he does not think a special select committee is needed.  Instead existing committees, such as Energy and Commerce, are more than ready to pursue the issue.  In fact, a joint press release was issued by the expected incoming chairs of the House’s Resources Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee, and Science, Space, and Technology Committee announcing their intent to hold several days of hearings on climate change immediately after the Congress reconvenes in January. 

White House Releases Final Version of Science and Technology for America’s Oceans: A Decadal Vision – On November 16, the White House released the final version of its interagency report outlining Federal ocean science priorities for the next decade.  A draft of this report was released in June and comments from the community and the public were requested.  The final report identifies five goals to advance U.S. ocean S&T and the Nation in the coming decade: (1) Understand the Ocean in the Earth System; (2) Promote Economic Prosperity; (3) Ensure Maritime Security; (4) Safeguard Human Health; and (5) Develop Resilient Coastal Communities. Each goal is supplemented with specific objectives and actionable priorities to achieve those objectives. Two cross-cutting topics that are relevant to each of the five goals are the modernization and management of ocean-related infrastructure, and an educated, diverse, and dynamic “blue” workforce. Continued investments in these two areas will contribute to U.S. global leadership within ocean S&T. This document presents a decadal vision for an innovative and collaborative ocean S&T enterprise that promotes American security and prosperity while conserving the marine environment for present and future generations. Carrying out the research goals will require investments in and coordination of ocean S&T across all levels of government and private industry, academia, and nongovernmental organizations over the long-term.

Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Announces Major Funding Opportunity for Machine-Assisted Analytic Rapid-Repository System (MARS) – DIA is looking to transform its current information system into a data-centric knowledge repository at a significantly larger scale and with a transactional throughput capability.  MARS is supposed to allow analysts and operators absorb and process large amounts of data to find new relationships, ensure DIA provides the level of detail necessary to conduct agile precise and more sophisticated analysis in support of military operations; capture new sources of data that provide deeper understanding of global technological developments, allowing DIA to better inform the DOD acquisition community as they develop, test, operate and sustain systems to ensure continued U.S. military dominance; and provide the ability to track both static and mobile military forces, ensuring a holistic understanding of foreign military operational readiness and disposition, and enhancing indications and warning of potential threats to joint force operations; and for other purposes.  Funds will be awarded in the form of grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, technology investment agreements and/or other transactions.  More information is available in the Broad Area Announcement (BAA) which can be found here.

NSF’s Biological Sciences Directorate Reverses Course on Proposal Limitations -- In August, the BIO directorate announced changes to its proposal submission process to eliminate deadlines and limit the number of proposals that could be submitted to a given division annually by a PI or co-PI.  A significant number of concerns were raised by the biological sciences community regarding the limitation on the number of proposals a PI could submit in any given year.  As a result, effective immediately, NSF’s BIO directorate has decided to eliminate the PI restriction.  Read the statement issued by the acting Assistant Director of the BIO directorate here.

NIH Webinar on Possible New Data Management Policy -- On October 10, 2018, the NIH released a notice in its Guide to Grants and Contracts to solicit public input on proposed key provisions that could serve as the foundation for a future NIH policy for data management and sharing.  Comments will be accepted until December 10, 2018.  The feedback obtained will inform the development of a draft NIH policy for data management and sharing, which is expected to be released for an additional public comment period upon its development.  NIH will also host a second informational public webinar regarding this request for information.  This webinar, led by Dr. Carrie Wolinetz, Acting NIH Chief of Staff and Associate Director for Science Policy, will take place on November 19, 2018, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET. To view the webinar presentation, click here.  To call-in to the webinar: U.S. and Canadian participants can dial: 866-844-9416 and enter passcode: 9659769.  For international participants, please refer to the table of toll-free numbers found here The passcode for international callers will also be 9659769.

DARPA Seeks Proposals on SIGMA+ Network and Analytics -- The Defense Sciences Office (DSO) at DARPA is soliciting research proposals in the areas of: automated and sensor fused data analytics, network infrastructure and system integration, and interfaces and interoperability to support a networked system for the detection, interdiction, and deterrence of clandestine weapons of mass destruction (WMD) activities. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, and systems. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice. SIGMA+ aims to advance, integrate, and scale emerging sensor and data analytics technologies to demonstrate and transition a detection system that fundamentally changes how we detect, interdict, and deter clandestine WMD activities. The SIGMA+ initiative is leveraging and building on current sensor capabilities to enable fully-networked scalable, high-capability detectors in the chemical, biological, and explosive (CBE) threat space, similar to what was accomplished in the RN threat space under the SIGMA program.  Additional information regarding this PA can be found here.

NSF Releases Funding Opportunity for Research Traineeships -- The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of new, and potentially transformative models for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate education training. The NRT program seeks proposals that explore ways for graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs to develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. The program is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary or convergent research areas, through the use of a comprehensive traineeship model that is innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs. Proposals are requested in any interdisciplinary or convergent research theme of national priority, with special emphasis on the research areas in NSF's 10 Big Ideas. The NSF research Big Ideas are Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR), The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF), Navigating the New Arctic (NNA), Windows on the Universe: The Era of Multi-Messenger Astrophysics (WoU), The Quantum Leap: Leading the Next Quantum Revolution (QL), and Understanding the Rules of Life: Predicting Phenotype (URoL). The NRT program addresses workforce development, emphasizing broad participation, and institutional capacity building needs in graduate education. The NRT program announcement can be found here.