News and Events – Canada vs science, NSF says no to Congress, and DORA

Posted: May 21, 2013 in Ethics, Events, Funding, Jobs, Life as a post-doc, Policy, Science

“But a new development makes the situation appear to be far worse. In a stunning announcement, the National Research Council—the Canadian scientific research and development agency—has now said that they will only perform research that has “social or economic gain”.”

“The National Science Foundation (NSF) today rebuffed a request from the chairman of the House of Representatives science committee to obtain reviewer comments on five social science research projects it is funding. The refusal is the latest twist in an increasingly edgy battle between the agency and Republicans in Congress over the agency’s grants-making process and, in particular, its support for the social and behavioral sciences.”

“Given that sequestration lopped off a staggering $1.55 billion from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) budget this year, it shouldn’t be hard to find examples of how the cut is harming research labs. Although sequestration “has already dealt a devastating blow,” said NIH Director Francis Collins at a Senate hearing last week, it turns out it’s not that easy to spell out the damage.”

“That’s what more than 150 scientists and 75 science organizations are hoping for today, with a joint statement called the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). It deplores the way some metrics — especially the notorious Journal Impact Factor (JIF) — are misused as quick and dirty assessments of scientists’ performance and the quality of their research papers.”

“One of the most successful missions in NASA history may be coming to an end. NASA officials announced this afternoon that the Kepler spacecraft, which has found more than 2700 planetary candidates outside the solar system, has lost the ability to point in a specified direction due to the malfunctioning of one of its reaction wheels. The spacecraft has been put into safe mode while engineers attempt to figure out how to resolve the malfunction.”

“In a vote of 97-0, the U.S. Senate today confirmed Ernest Moniz as secretary of energy. A theoretical nuclear physicist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Moniz succeeds Steven Chu, the only other physicist to hold the post since the Department of Energy (DOE) was established in 1977. Moniz, 69, had previously served as undersecretary of energy from 1997 to 2001 and as associate director for science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 1995 to 1997.”

“The US Supreme Court has issued a unanimous rulingtoday that a soybean farmer violated patents when he planted genetically modified soybeans without first paying the intellectual-property holder.”

“A group of scientists at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) — a Research!America member — recently announced that it had successfully generated cloned embryonic stem cells from skin cells of an adult and an unfertilized human egg. Like other stem cell technologies, these cloned stem cells may one day be used for therapeutic purposes — replacing failed organs or damaged nerves.”


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