Public Affairs

President Intends to Nominate Majumdar for DOE

On November 29 President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate a number of individuals to key administration posts, including Arun Majumdar for Under Secretary of Energy, Department of Energy (DOE).

Majumdar has served as the Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) since 2009. Previously, he was Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Environment at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He has served on the advisory committee of the National Science Foundation’s engineering directorate and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2005.

NIH Undergraduate Design Challenge

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) is holding a competition for undergraduate students to foster the design and development of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic devices and technology for the underserved and disabled. The Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) Challenge is part of NIBIB’s efforts to build, strengthen, and prepare the future workforce of biomedical engineers. One winning student team will be selected from three challenge categories: diagnostic devices/methods; therapeutic devices/methods; and technology to aid underserved populations and individuals with disabilities. Details on how to enter, requirements and general information about the challenge can be found at http://debut.challenge.gov/.

FY 2012 Appropriations

Congress voted to accept an FY2012 appropriations package before the expiration of the December 16 Continuing Resolution (CR). The final bills  support investments in federal research and education programs, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, Department of Defense (DOD) basic research, and Pell grants, at current levels or with modest increases.

The $915 billion Appropriations bill includes $30.698 billion for NIH, a 0.7% increase over FY 2011. The bill creates the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), and includes $10 million for the new Cures Acceleration Network (CAN). The bill decreases the NIH salary cap from Executive Level I ($199,700) to Executive Level II ($179,700). The DOE Office of Science is slated to receive $4.889 billion, an increase of nearly 1% over FY 2011.

International Policy: Russian Scientists Protest Funding Freeze

On October 13, hundreds of Russian scientists and students gathered in Moscow to protest current government policies that freeze all scientific grant funding for the next three years. The Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and the Russian Foundation for Humanities (RFRH) are the two primary agencies through which scientists receive funding.

While former policy allocated 6% of the civilian science budget to the RFBR and 1% to the RFRH, the Russian government has frozen both RFBR and RFRH budgets at the 2010 level until 2014. This leaves only $200 million annually in funding for both agencies, an amount that the Russian  scientific community views as inadequate to support current levels of research.

The protesters also focused on the current public procurement legislation in place, which limits the ability for researchers to spend funding as they see fit. Equipment and material purchases are limited per month, slowing down the pace of research for many scientists.

January 2012 Table of Contents