Federal Science Partners Periodic Update

Continuing Resolution Expires, No Agreement on Border Security Reached, Partial Government Shutdown Begins – Last evening negotiations between the House, Senate and White House failed to resolve the long-standing debate on funding for the southern border wall proposed by the President in his FY 2019 budget.  As a result, the continuing resolution that provided funding for about 25% of the Federal Government expired and the impacted agencies have begun to execute their various shutdown plans.  Agencies NOT impacted by this shutdown who have received their annual appropriations for FY 2019 included the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health.  Those science agencies impacted by the shutdown include the National Science Foundation, NOAA, NASA, EPA, USGS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Homeland Security.  Negotiations between Congress and the White House are expected to continue as the shutdown begins and its impacts start to become apparent.  The shutdown plans for the various federal agencies can be found here.

Congress Clears Two Key Pieces of NOAA-Related Legislation for Presidential Approval – This week, in the midst of the stand-off between the White House and the Congress regarding funding for the border security wall, the House and Senate agreed to and passed two separate bills authorizing and reauthorizing some important NOAA programs.  The first bill is the “Commercial Engagement Through Ocean Technology Act of 2018” or the “CENOTE Act of 2018” was passed in the Senate on December 17th and is now on its way to the White House to be signed into law.  The bill authorizes NOAA to engage in a series of activities designed to expand the development and use of unmanned maritime systems.  Roles for NOAA (through OAR and OMAO) are defined, there are roles for the private sector, academic sector, and the Department of the Navy. There is a research and training role prescribed for the academic community in this bill.  A copy of the bill as passed by the House and Senate can be found here

The second NOAA bill passed and cleared for the President’s signature is a bill to reauthorize both the National Integrated Drought Information System and the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 (S. 2200).  Within the weather reauthorization sections of the legislation, the Congress extended the authorization of appropriations for the weather research and forecasting innovation provisions that were first signed into law in April 2017.  Additional language was added to strengthen NOAA’s research and computing capabilities needed to improve its weather forecasting models.  Additional language was included to better integrate the use of autonomous marine and freshwater technologies for observation and data collection, strengthen the cooperative weather observer program and harmful algal bloom and hypoxia research.  A copy of this bill as passed and sent to the White House can be found here.

Quantum Research Act Cleared for President’s Signature – On December 19, the House passed and sent to the President, H.R. 6227, the National Quantum Initiative Act.  H.R. 6227 provides for a coordinated federal program to accelerate quantum research and development for the economic and national security of the U.S.  Specifically, the legislation directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to lead a 10-year interagency priority initiative to advance quantum research, technology applications, and workforce development.  The legislation authorizes research and development activities for the National Institute for Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Science at the Department of Energy.

DOE Announces $14 Million for Research on Fusion Energy – The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a plan to provide $14 million for new research on fusion energy. Research will be based on data from the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, a DOE Office of Science user facility at General Atomics in San Diego.  Universities, nonprofits, and private sector companies are eligible to submit applications. Funding is to be awarded competitively, on the basis of peer review, and is expected to be in the form of three-year grants ranging from $50,000 to $1.5 million per year, beginning in the current fiscal year. Fusion energy research seeks to harness the energy that powers the sun and stars as an abundant and clean source of power on earth. The research to be performed on DIII-D data will play an important role both in advancing the fundamental knowledge of fusion and in aiding the development of ITER, the major international fusion experiment currently under construction in France.  The Funding Opportunity Announcement, issued by DOE's Office of Science and titled "Collaborative Fusion Energy Research in the DIII-D National Program," can be found here.

DOE’s ARPA-E Announces $18 Million for Transformative Energy Technologies -- DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has announced its latest funding opportunity designed to support early stage, transformative energy technologies. The “Solicitation on Topics Informing New Program Areas” funding opportunity enables ARPA-E to investigate potential new program areas while highlighting energy challenges of critical interest to American competitiveness and security. This Funding Opportunity will remain open for an extended period, and new topics will be released periodically to target emerging technologies and potential new program areas. This first round calls for innovative technologies supporting next generation nuclear energy, high temperature sensors for downhole geothermal exploration, and ultra-durable, lower-energy concrete for infrastructure. ARPA-E will award up to $18 million to project teams spread across standard and small business (SBIR/STTR) solicitations. To learn more about this and other ARPA-E funding opportunities, visit ARPA-E eXCHANGE.

Department of Energy Announces $37 Million in New Research and Development Grants -- the Department of Energy (DOE) has released its second Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for Fiscal Year 2019.  The Phase I Release 2 FOA, with approximately $37 million in available funding, will provide funding for innovations that address multiple research and development programs throughout DOE.  Phase I grants are 6-12 months in duration with maximum award amounts of $200,000.  Small businesses that successfully complete their research in Phase I will compete for funding in FY 2020 to carry out prototype or processes research and development during Phase II.  Phase II grants are up to 2 years in duration with maximum award amounts of $1.1 million or $1.6 million, depending on the research topic.  The SBIR and STTR programs were created by Congress to leverage small businesses to advance innovation at federal agencies. Additional information on the DOE SBIR and STTR programs can be found here.  More details on DOE SBIR/STTR Phase I Release 2 FOA can be found here.

DOE Announces Funding for University Training and Research for Fossil Energy Applications -- This DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is for the solicitation of applications from U. S. Colleges and Universities for Fossil Energy Research. It encompasses two distinct programs with their own dedicated funding, requirements, and restricted eligibility: the University Coal Research (UCR) Program; and the Historically Black Colleges & Universities and Other Minority Institutions (HBCU/OMI) Program. Both programs seek to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers while advancing the frontiers of fossil energy science and technology. The HBCU/OMI program has the additional goal of increasing the participation of under-represented populations of students in such research.  A copy of the FOA can be downloaded here.

NOAA Seeks Proposals for Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program – The mission of the National Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP) is to support the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch of fish and protected species (including ESA-listed fish, marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles) and to reduce impacts to invertebrates (including sponges, deep-sea corals, and shallow (tropical) corals.) In addition, BREP may support projects that quantify post-release mortality and identify ways to minimize mortality and injury of bycaught species (including post-release injury and mortality).  Projects should produce outcomes that can directly influence management needs of federally managed living marine resources. A copy of this solicitation can be found here

NOAA Seeks Applications for FY 2020 Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program – NOAA is accepting applications for the 2020 National Sea Grant College Program Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship (Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship Program). The Knauss Fellowship is designed to provide an educational experience to students enrolled in graduate or professional programs that have an interest in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.  The National Sea Grant College Program anticipates funding not less than 35 selected applicants, of which those assigned to the Legislative branch will be approximately 14. Each award will be funded up to a total of $71,500 in federal funding, which includes up to $10,000 for office-related travel. In certain circumstances additional office-related travel funding may take the award above $71,500. Applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to the Sea Grant Program in their state/territory one to two months prior to the state application deadline to receive application support and provide notification of an intent to apply. The applicant should allow sufficient time to schedule an interview with the eligible Sea Grant program at the program’s request.  A copy of the Knauss Fellowship application package can be found here.

NSF Seeks Information on Integration Institutes for Cross-cutting Biology – Via a Dear Colleague letter, the NSF is requesting suggestions from the research community on fundamental biological research questions and topics that are poised for major advances. Ideally these ideas would span multiple levels of organization in living systems and require expertise from diverse biological subdisciplines. This is a call for high-level ideas with a deadline for submissions set for March 1, 2019More information on the request for information can be found here.

NSF Accepting Proposals for Cyberinfrastructure for Emerging Science and Engineering Research -- The Cyberinfrastructure for Emerging Science and Engineering Research (CESER) program aims to catalyze new science and engineering discovery pathways through early-stage collaborative activities between disciplinary scientists and engineers as well as developers/implementers of innovative cyberinfrastructure (CI) capabilities, services, and approaches. Beginning in FY 2017, the CESER program replaced the Strategic Technologies for Cyberinfrastructure (STCI) program. CESER has retained STCI's focus on supporting innovation across the CI ecosystem with increased emphasis on addressing and enabling emerging areas of potentially transformative research, including NSF priority areas, national strategic directions, and international collaborative research. CESER accepts proposals for this program on a year-round basis.  From time to time, NSF may also issue Dear Colleague Letters pursuant to CESER to signal special thematic interests and opportunities. CESER employs existing NSF funding mechanisms to accomplish the program's goals such as EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) and Conference proposals.  More information on this funding opportunity can be found here.

DOE Announces Intent to Issue Funding Opportunity for Transformational Sensing Capabilities for Monitoring Carbon Storage Systems – The Department of Energy (DOE) intends to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) seeking applications for financial assistance awards that would support the Office of Fossil Energy (FE), Carbon Storage Program. The FOA is anticipated to be issued in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2019. The objective of the planned FOA is to develop transformational sensing capabilities for measuring and monitoring various parameters associated with CO2 injection at locations throughout the storage complex, including: overburden, reservoir, and underburden. New sensor systems are sought to overcome limitations of current sensors while also being amenable for integration with autonomous intelligent monitoring systems for real time decision making. This includes sensors and methods for detecting and measuring conditions within the storage complex. A storage complex consists of: (1) one or more storage reservoirs, with permeability and porosity that allow injection and storage of CO2; and (2) one or more low-permeability seals, which enclose the reservoir(s) and serve as barriers to migration of CO2 out of the reservoir, and the area immediately above the seals, i.e. Above-Zone Monitoring Intervals (AZMIs). Of interest are transformational sensing systems that will provide real-time data that improves the ability to monitor movement of fluids in the subsurface and/or measure critical subsurface properties. More information on this can be found here.