The National Science Foundation (NSF) has long been a leader in supporting fundamental research to equip U.S. cities and communities with more responsive and adaptive technologies and services. Today, NSF's Smart & Connected Communities (S&CC) programannounces its first round of awards totaling approximately $19.5 million. This funding will support 38 projects involving researchers at 34 institutions across the nation.
Smart and connected communities successfully integrate people with information and communication technologies to improve economic opportunity and growth, safety and security, health and wellness, and overall quality of life. Successfully achieving this vision requires advanced understanding of the physical, social and technical aspects of our local cities and communities.
September 25, 2017 Even longtime admirers of Shahid Qadir were puzzled.
Mr. Qadir, editor of Third World Quarterly, a journal about international studies, this month published a paper provocatively titled "The Case for Colonialism."The abstract sets the tone for the piece: "For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy."
September 5, 2017 The cause of scientific transparency and accuracy got a boost on Tuesday with the decision by the publishing giant Elsevier to endorse a broad set of standards for open articles and data. Elsevier agreed to add its 1,800 journals to the 3,200 that already accept the "Transparency and Openness Promotion" guidelines drafted in 2015 by a group of university researchers, funders and publishers.
At an institutional level, "there’s not a lot of leverage" to hold down prices, concedes Florida’s library dean, Judith C. Russell. That’s because Elsevier publishes many influential titles that faculty also prize as markers of reputational success, she said.
The editors of Annals of Surgery have retracted a new paper on the “modern surgeon” after it was pointed out the paper only referred to surgeons with male pronouns. The piece — "Modern Surgeon: Still a Master of His Trade or Just an Operator of Medical Equipment?" —was actually a copy of a speech from Dr. Marek Krawczyk, the president of the European Surgical Association. As critics of the piece pointed out, the choice of language matters to the perception of women in the field and doesn’t reflect their important work. “Unfortunately, our own editorial review did not catch the singular use of male pronouns to refer to surgeons,” the journal’s editors said in a statement.
The incident also points to another issue: the gender diversity of journal editorial boards. A 2008 analysis found that fewer than 10 percent of the members of the Annals of Surgery editorial board each year were women, with only slightly more diversity seen in other major medical journals. That’s improved in the years since — now, women make up about 20 percent of the Annals of Surgery editorial board.
At the request of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has produced areport, "The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities." The report concludes that social, behavioral and economic sciences (SBE) further NSF's mission to advance U.S. health, prosperity, welfare and defense.
"Nearly every major challenge the United States faces -- from alleviating unemployment to protecting itself from terrorism -- requires understanding the causes and consequences of people's behavior," the report says.
House Republicans issued a fiscal 2018 budget plan on Wednesday that rejects the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate or sharply cut so-called indirect-cost payments to universities for medical research.
The plan, offered by Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma and chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the National Institutes of Health, makes clear that indirect-cost payments on NIH grants should continue "to the same extent and in the same manner" as has existed.
Midway through the European Union’s sprawling 7-year, €75-billion (US$85-billion) research-funding programme known as Horizon 2020 (H2020), scientists are already angling for more money and less red tape in its successor.
So researchers are delighted with aninfluential 3 July reportthat urges the EU to double the budget of its next funding scheme, called Framework Programme Nine (FP9), which is due to launch in 2021. The report says that FP9’s structure should be largely similar to that of H2020, but with less bureaucracy, and suggests that it includes a few major ‘moonshot’ missions in areas such as energy and information technology.
June 28, 2017 From the beginning, it seemed like a difficult prediction. In anarticlepublished last October in Nature, three researchers affiliated with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City said they had crunched the numbers and concluded that humans will never consistently live much beyond 115 years. "From now on, this is it," one of the three authors, Jan Vijg, a professor of genetics at Albert Einstein,told The New York Timesone of several majornewsoutletsthat helped promote the sobering news. "Humans will never get older than 115." Read More…
HKS Research Administration Office
June 27, 2017 As a doctoral student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in the 1980s, James L. Olds had an adviser who taught him how to apply for federal grants by including him directly in the process.
"I was very lucky" to have that comparative advantage, said Mr. Olds, whose early training in seeking grant support furthered his subsequent progress to become a college professor and, now, head of the biological-sciences directorate at the National Science Foundation.
But many other research professors at American universities don’t provide their graduate students the same training that his adviser did. Read More…
HKS Research Administration Office
June 15, 2017 “Why fund behavioral intervention research if the interventions found effective are not adopted in practice?” This was a recurring question I heard when meeting with various National Institutes of Health (NIH) institute and center directors to seek their input on the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) 2017-21 Strategic Plan. Their perspective is consistent with what our field has acknowledged and worked to address: Health researchers in general – and behavioral and social sciences researchers specifically – cannot be satisfied with leaving our research findings at the water’s edge and hoping these findings will be adopted into practice.
The National Institutes of Health is the world's biggest public funder of biomedical research, investing more than $32 billion each year—and a sizable amount of that money can be tapped by mental health and behavioral science researchers, especially those who are interested in collaborating with other disciplines. Several major initiatives welcome a transdisciplinary perspective, even if on the surface they don't sound terribly psychological. Among them are the All of Us/Precision Medicine Initiative, the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) and the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) program.
Facing protests from senior scientists, including members of its own advisory board, the National Institutes of Health on Thursday abandoned a plan to help younger researchers by imposing a general three-grant limit.
Instead, the NIH is moving forward with a more complicated formula in which scientists who win a first grant under a program designed to aid first-time applicants will get priority for their second grant.
"We are shifting the approach quite substantially," the NIH’s director, Francis S. Collins, told a gathering of his advisory panel, a collection of about 15 senior academic researchers that largely opposed his first plan.
When the Ohio University economist Richard Vedder thinks of his counterparts at Harvard, he sees more than just a great research university. He sees shiny marble floors. Such high-end decor is a signal, Mr. Vedder told lawmakers Wednesday on Capitol Hill, that the federal government spends too much money on the extraneous costs surrounding university research.
Despite facing protests, the National Institutes of Health promised Wednesday to move ahead with a plan to impose a general limit of three major grants per researcher, persuaded by data linking quantity to declining effectiveness.
"We are determined to take some action now that we have this data," the NIH’s director, Francis S. Collins, told a House appropriations subcommittee. "When you’ve seen that data," he added after the hearing, "you can’t just walk away and say, ‘Oh, that’s fine.’"
Not even two months ago, the Trump administration shocked the biomedical research community by proposing an 18-percent cut to the budget of the National Institutes of Health.
On Monday at the White House, that attitude began to look like ancient history.
Ushered into the Executive Mansion by a contingent of biomedical industry chiefs, NIH leaders spent two hours with top administration officials — followed by a visit with President Trump himself — carefully explaining the economic and human-health importance of the federal investment in medical science.
The Chronicle of Higher Education Pamela Samuelson
April 23, 2017
With all the dysfunction in the White House and Capitol Hill this year, you might think that the copyright bills pending before Congress do not need your attention. Think again. Momentum is building for three of these measures, and their impact on institutions of higher education will not be welcome.
The most likely of the bills to pass (and scheduled for a vote this week) is the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017. It has bipartisan support from 32 cosponsors in the House, and the endorsement of three key members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill calls for the Register of Copyrights to be a presidential appointee for a 10-year term, subject to Senate confirmation. This bill has already been reported out of the House Judiciary Committee.
WASHINGTON –The presidents of three of the country’s top research universities gathered for a public discussion Tuesday, dedicating some of their most in-depth comments to concerns about federal policy.
The presidents of Harvard, Stanford and Ohio State Universities took part in a wide-ranging discussion on the future of higher education hosted by the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. While they covered a lot of ground, they delivered their most timely remarks while addressing worries about cuts to federal research funding and possible changes in immigration policy that could affect the students at their institutions.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are toughening their financial conflict-of-interest policies after publishing reports that some critics have said are tainted by undisclosed corporate influences.
The 154-year-old scientific academy, chartered by Congress during the Lincoln administration, has long enjoyed a reputation as a top-quality producer of in-depth, impartial academic analyses on a range of national policy questions.
But that reputation has been challenged by complaints about two reports — one on medical pain relief and another on genetically modified organisms — whose authors’ ties to industry were not made clear.
The Chronicle of Higher Education Lindsay McKenzie
April 6, 2017
Open-access advocates have had several successes in the past few weeks. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation started its own open-access publishing platform, which the European Commission may replicate. And librarians attending the Association of College and Research Libraries conference in March were glad to hear that theOpen Access Button, a tool that helps researchers gain free access to copies of articles, will be integrated into existing interlibrary-loan arrangements.
Another initiative, called Unpaywall, is a simple browser extension, but its creators, Jason Priem and Heather Piwowar, say it could help alter the status quo of scholarly publishing.
Big gifts to higher education last year topped $6 billion for the first time, continuing a postrecession surge in eight- and nine-figure donations to colleges and universities even as data suggest giving from their smaller contributors is declining.
Donors made 194 gifts of $10 million or more to higher education last year, also a new high, according anew surveyby Marts & Lundy, a fundraising-consulting firm. A decade ago, just before the Great Recession, higher education received just 124 gifts of that size.
Medical research can’t be done in the dark. But should taxpayers be covering the light bills at university labs across the country?
The Trump administration’s answer is no. The president has proposed a massive $7 billion budget cut for the National Institutes of Health over the next 18 months. And Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price said this week that he may find those savings in the “indirect expenses” that NIH funds, which includes everything from buying lab equipment to paying the electric bills for thousands of academic research labs from Harvard to Ohio State to Stanford.
The Trump administration’s plan to cut billions of dollars in research spending by eliminating indirect cost reimbursements would devastate university science, especially at public institutions, experts warned.
The U.S. secretary for health and human services, Tom Price, told Congress this week that the idea is to save taxpayers money while giving them the same amount of research activity. Indirect cost payments are funds spent on "something other than the research that’s being done," Dr. Price told a House of Representatives subcommittee on health appropriations on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, just a short walk from the White House, Richard M. Shiffrin led dozens of his academic colleagues through a three-day examination of the trustworthiness of science.
He’s not totally sure it was a good idea.
The colloquium that Mr. Shiffrin and two colleagues organized at the National Academy of Sciences headquarters was planned long before Donald J. Trump took up residence in the nearby executive mansion, capping a campaign that repeatedly challenged science and facts as basic tools of understanding.
For the first time in the post–World War II era, the federal government no longer funds a majority of the basic research carried out in the United States. Data from ongoing surveys by the National Science Foundation (NSF) show that federal agencies provided only 44% of the $86 billion spent on basic research in 2015. The federal share, which topped 70% throughout the 1960s and ’70s, stood at 61% as recently as 2004 before falling below 50% in 2013.
The sharp drop in recent years is the result of two contrasting trends—a flattening of federal spending on basic research over the past decade and a significant rise in corporate funding of fundamental science since 2012. The first is a familiar story to most academic scientists, who face stiffening competition for federal grants.
Seven research projects led by scientists, historians, economists, and public health experts from five Harvard Schools will share about $1 million in the third round of grants awarded by the Climate Change Solutions Fund. This initiative, which was launched by Harvard President Drew Faust, encourages multidisciplinary research that seeks creative solutions to climate change.
“Universities have a uniquely important role to play in the battle against climate change, and Harvard must continue to be at the forefront of efforts to bring disciplines together, deepen awareness of the issue, and speed progress,” said Faust. “This year’s Climate Change Solutions Fund awards will help experts from engineering, medicine, chemistry, public health, public policy, and the arts confront the challenges facing our society and our planet at a moment when the dire consequences of inaction are becoming increasingly apparent.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education Robbert Dijkgraaf
March 2, 2017 On April 30, 1939, under the gathering storm clouds of war, the New York World’s Fair opened in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Its theme wasThe World of Tomorrow. Over the next 18 months, nearly 45 million visitors would be given a peek into a future shaped by newly emerging technologies. Some of the displayed innovations were truly visionary. The fair featured the first automatic dishwasher, air conditioner, and fax machine. The live broadcast of President Franklin Roosevelt’s opening speech introduced America to television. Newsreels showed Elektro the Moto-Man, a seven-foot tall, awkwardly moving aluminum robot that could speak by playing 78-r.p.m. records, smoke a cigarette, and play with his robot dog Sparko. Other attractions, such as a pageant featuring magnificent steam-powered locomotives, could be better characterized as the last gasps of the world of yesterday.
Albert Einstein, honorary chair of the fair’s science advisory committee, presided over the official illumination ceremony, also broadcast live on television. He spoke to a huge crowd on the topic of cosmic rays, highly energetic subatomic particles bombarding the Earth from outer space. But two scientific discoveries that would soon dominate the world were absent at the fair: nuclear energy and electronic computers.
U.S. research institutions received more than $2.3 billion in private funding for basic science research in 2016, a report from theScience Philanthropy Alliancefinds.
Based on survey responses from forty-two universities and research institutions, the2016 Survey of Private Funding for Basic Research(summary report, 5 pages, PDF) found that foundations, corporations, grantmaking public charities, and individuals awarded $1.9 billion, or 84 percent of the total, to research in the life sciences, $300 million (13 percent) in the physical sciences, and $80 million (3 percent) in mathematics. For the twenty-six institutions that completed the survey in both 2015 and 2016, private funding in those three areas increased 31 percent, from $1.19 billion to $1.56 billion, while funding for basic research in all areas — including behavioral and social sciences and the arts and humanities — increased 28 percent, from $2 billion to $2.56 billion.
Through the partnership, AAAS will allow Gates Foundation-funded researchers to publish their research under aCreative Commons Attribution license (CC BY), enabling any article submitted to an AAAS journal after January 1 to be immediately available to the public to read, download, and reuse.
In a move prompted in part by fears of foreign influence on public policy, India's health ministry has decided to take over funding responsibility for an immunization program backed by theBill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Reutersreports.
Funded by the Gates Foundation since its creation in 2012, theImmunization Technical Support Unit at thePublic Health Foundation of Indiaprovides technical and monitoring assistance to the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), which supports the government's extensive immunization program. Starting in March, however, ITSU will be funded by the government, which felt the need to manage the program on its own, senior health ministry official Soumya Swaminathan told Reuters. "There was a perception that an external agency is funding it, so there could be influence," said Swaminathan, who also noted that no instances of inappropriate influence have been found.
With two days left in the Obama administration, the federal agency charged with protecting human beings in research on Wednesdayissuedan overhaul of rules that had been caught up in more than five years of acrimonious debate.
The rule changes,which will begin to take effect next year regardless of the change in presidents, will generally allow for a single review of human protections in studies that occur at multiple universities, and will allow broader exemptions from such reviews for researchers whose study interactions are limited to interviews.
My grandfather was born in 1909. Too young for the First World War and too old for the Second, he served in the U.S. Navy between the two. He finished eighth grade before leaving to work, returning to school — through correspondence courses — only in the 1950s. I remember him, though, as an old man prone to quoting Scripture and Shakespeare and singing lines of Handel’s Messiah (interspersed with saltier fare). His brushes with institutional education notwithstanding, he always struck me as self-taught in a way that is now difficult to fathom.
What I remember about him best are his things: his trumpet, with a mute that fascinated me; his tools, including, exotically, a glass cutter and some beekeeping gear; the decorations of his and my grandmother’s small-town New England house — an old wooden relief of an eagle, a framed map of Connecticut. When he died, I inherited — or chose to take — two of these things. One was a worn-looking hammer I still use. The other was a small, lined, leatherette notebook, the first page of which bears the penciled heading, "Thought for the day."
Right under that line is the first and last entry in the notebook: "Nothing so far."
Although a law that places new requirements on foreign nonprofits operating in China was scheduled to go into effect January 1, foreign NGOs in the country remain unclear about the details of the rules and their impact on their ability to continue their work in the new year, theNew York Timesreports.
Passedby China's national legislature last April, the law states that foreign NGOs must not endanger China's national security and ethnic unity. To that end, foreign nonprofits such as foundations, charities, and most business associations must register with the police, be sponsored by state agencies and organizations, and submit regular reports on their activities. Many aspects of the law remain opaque, however, and some organizations fear their work will be curtailed or even banned. Calls to a hotline recently set up by the Ministry of Public Security to answer questions about the law have gone unanswered.