|October 22, 2011|
IF THE 'SUPERCOMMITTEE' FAILS?
options are being floated in the event that the
bipartisan House-Senate deficit-reduction panel
fails to agree on its required $1.2 trillion in
budget savings. With a month to go, the
Supercommittee shows little sign of progress. The
alternative to a deal would be automatic cuts -- a
so-called sequester -- in 2013 falling equally
on national security and domestic programs.
possibility, CQ reports, is an agreement falling
short of $1.2 trillion. An $800 billion deal, for
instance, would require a potentially less painful
$400 billion sequester. In another scenario, defense
hawks might try to circumvent automatic cuts to the
Pentagon: They could attempt to change the sequester
or use appropriations measures to restore
anticipated defense cuts. "But that would be
extremely difficult," writes CQ.
A ROLL: The
Senate is due to vote Nov. 1 on a "minibus"
appropriations measure that combines fiscal 2012
Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and
Transportation-HUD spending bills. This would fund
the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the
National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST). So far, there's been no move on the floor to
restore Senate appropriators' cuts to NSF and NIST.
Passage of the minibus would open the way for a
House-Senate conference. House appropriators have
been more generous toward the science agencies.
A REPUBLICAN WELCOME: Foreign students with advanced STEM degrees who get hired by a U.S. firm in their chosen field would be immediately eligible for permanent residency under legislation introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador (R, Idaho). Our colleague David Mitchell reports that employer-paid fees would cover administrative costs and also go into a fund to help stimulate American students' interest in STEM. Labrador was an immigration attorney before entering Congress. His bill has five GOP cosponsors. Read more here.
SAFETY GUIDELINES: The
multiple agencies participating in the National
Nanotechnology Initiative have updated their 2008
health and safety strategy. The new document
offers "a more robust risk assessment component"
that incorporates product life-cycle analysis and
ethical, legal, and societal implications, according
to the Office
of Science and Technology Policy. Principles
aim to base risk assessment and management on "sound
SIRI'S PROUD PARENTS: OSTP's Tom Kalil and Kumar Garg point out in a blog post that the virtual personal assistant featured in Apple's new iPhone "is a direct outgrowth" of federally funded research -- specifically, a "Personalized Assistant that Learns" project backed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The new feature is called Siri. People will be able to ask it to book a table, make an appointment or answer a question using information from multiple search engines. Kalil and Garg say many experts believe the technology "will transform the way we interact with information technology."
The National Science Foundation has posted
FAQs for new university faculty considering
applying for Broadening Participation Research
Initiation Grants in Engineering (BRIGE). Among the
answers: Maternity leave doesn't count as part of
the three-year eligibility period.
MATERIAL WORLD: NSF's Materials Genome Initiative for Global Competitiveness aims to deploy advanced materials at least twice as fast as is possible today "at a fraction of the cost." Learn more.
The National Institutes of Health is encouraging
U.S. institutions to collaborate in research
training with institutions in low- and middle-income
countries. Framework Programs for Global Health
Innovation (FRAME Innovation) aim to foster
innovation in health products, processes and
policies. Learn more.
SHARING THE PAIN: The National Institutes of Health has put together various options for coping with tough budget times, including: limiting the number of research program awards per investigator, the total amount of awards per investigator, size of awards, and salary support. Extramural research chief Sally Rockey lays out some of the choices.
the Association of American Universities and the
Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
have joined in a
letter urging appropriators not to set a
minimum number of new and competing NIH research
grants, not to lower the salary cap, and let NIH
proceed with its restructuring plan.
IN GOOD TIME: It's
likely to be the New Year before the world learns
what a National Research Council panel has in store
for America's research universities. Headed by Bank
of America Chairman (and industrial engineer)
Charles O. Holliday Jr., the committee has been
tasked by key members of Congress to identify "the
top 10 actions" needed to maintain excellence in
research and doctoral education. Its report went out
to external reviewers this week.
ALCHEMY OF SUCCESS:
What makes an "innovation cluster" work? According
to a report
of an Academies symposium, it's a "culture of
entrepreneurship emerging from dense networks of
trust and cooperation that reaches across multiple
organizations." Innovators develop a "common
vocabulary and grammar." NSF's Deborah Jackson opines
on innovation "ecosystems" in Prism.
The nation “still seems unprepared or unwilling to
respond effectively to climate change,” a new
National Research Council report says. Yet the
reality of climate change “lends increasing urgency
to the need for effective education on earth system
science, as well as on the human and behavioral
dimensions of climate change, from broad societal
action to smart energy choices at the household
WORKFORCE TRAIN WRECK: That's
what National Academy of Engineering President
Charles Vest projects will result from the fact that
African Americans and Hispanics, who together
comprise about a third of college-age kids, earn
less than 13 percent of engineering degrees. In an
Oct. 16 speech,
he's generally gloomy about engineering education.
Noting poor retention ("We lose 50 percent of the
women. And we lose 50 percent of the men") he says
that "across the entire system, we are failing in
some combination of inspiration, motivation, and
ONE FELL SWOOP . . . GOP
presidential hopeful Ron Paul would wipe out the
Energy Department's Office of Science, NIST, and the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
according to his deficit-reduction plan. The Texas
congressman would also cut some $7 billion from the
National Institutes of Health, ScienceInsider's Jeff
reports, and end research funding at the
Department of Agriculture.
NAVAL RESEARCH INTERNSHIPS: The Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (NREIP) is a 10-week summer research opportunity for college and university sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students at a Navy lab under the guidance of a mentor. It provides stipends of $5,250 (sophomores); $7,880 for juniors and seniors and $10,500 for grad students. U.S. citizenship usually is required, but permanent residents are accepted at some labs. Students can apply online at http://nreip.asee.org/. The deadline is Jan. 6, 2012.
HOT OFF THE PRESS! The 5th edition of eGFI (Engineering, Go For It), ASEE's inspiring magazine for K-12 students. The new edition will present readers with a multifaceted picture of engineering by offering briefs on different engineering disciplines, first-hand accounts from engineering students, teachers, and professionals, and tips on how to prepare for, finance, and succeed in pursuing an education in engineering. Since its launch in 2003, eGFI has reached more than 1.7 million readers. To inquire about sponsorship or to place advance orders, contact Grace Hill (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-350-5760 or GoForIt@asee.org).
EDITOR: Mark Matthews; CONTRIBUTORS: Jaimie Schock, Michael T. Gibbons, David Mitchell, William E. Kelly, Thomas K. Grose