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Should the Government Fund Only Science in the “National Interest”?

National Geographic The glass-and-concrete headquarters of the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, normally hosts scientists who decide the fate of fellow researchers’ grant proposals. But in a nondescript spare office on the 12th floor, new players have set up shop: congressional aides reviewing the merits of scientific studies conducted with government funding. The two aides are evaluating the scientific merit of research proposals submitted to the the $7-billion-per-year agency,…

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Battle between NSF and House science committee escalates

Four times this past summer, in a spare room on the top floor of the headquarters of the National Science Foundation (NSF) outside of Washington, D.C., two congressional staffers spent hours poring over material relating to 20 research projects that NSF has funded over the past decade. Each folder contained confidential information that included the initial application, reviewer comments on its merit, correspondence between program officers and principal investigators, and…

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The state of team science: NSF review and recommendations

An October 2013 NSF workshop explored organizational and institutional factors and policies affect team science. Presenters discussed research related to the following questions:  How do current tenure and promotion policies acknowledge and provide incentives to academic researchers who engage in team science? What factors influence the productivity and effectiveness of research organizations that conduct and support team science, such as research centers and institutes? How do such organizational factors as…

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NSF awards first grants in new tech transfer program

A “valley of death” is well-known to entrepreneurs–the lull between government funding for research and industry support for prototypes and products. To confront this problem, in 2013 the National Science Foundation (NSF) created a new program called InTrans to extend the life of the most high-impact NSF-funded research and help great ideas transition from lab to practice. Today, in partnership with Intel Corporation, NSF announced the first InTrans award of…

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The Importance of Funding Basic Science Research

FASEB, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology runs an annual Stand Up For Science competition, and in 2013, the goal was to increase awareness of the value of US federal funding for biological and biomedical research. The winning video is below, and it makes a compelling argument for the funding of basic science. So much of the science funding mindset has seemingly been influenced by Wall Street’s  “get…

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Want a grant? First review someone else’s proposal

After 32 years as a program officer at the National Science Foundation (NSF), George Hazelrigg knows the rules governing peer review, especially the one that says researchers can’t be both an applicant and a reviewer in the same funding competition. Last year, however, he got permission to throw the rules out the window. His experiment, aimed at easing the strain on NSF staff and reviewers produced by a burgeoning number…

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The Next Frontier In The War On Science

The Obama administration and the scientific community at large are expressing serious alarm at a House Republican bill that they argue would dramatically undermine way research is conducted in America. Titled the “Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014,” the bill would put a variety of new restrictions on how funds are doled out by the National Science Foundation. The goal, per its Republican supporters on…

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At House Science Panel Hearing, Sarcasm Rules

It was supposed to be a chance for legislators to discuss the Obama administration’s 2015 federal budget with presidential science adviser John Holdren. But sarcasm and political trash-talking overrode serious debate at Wednesday’s hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Even in a Congress noted for its polarization and lack of comity, members of the panel seemed more interested in name-calling than numbers. As a…

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