This Week in Science Policy and Advocacy
Policy and Advocacy News
March 1, 2017 | Science
Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Justice Subcommittee, offered support and advice for politically active scientists. In addition to highlighting the importance of research and evidence based policy, Culberson suggests scientists demand that Congress find a way to control spending on mandatory programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security so more funds can be directed to research.
- Read SfN’s statement on the March for Science at SfN.org
February 27, 2017 | Science
President Trump’s recently released 2018 budget outline calls for a $54 billion increase in defense spending by cutting from nondefense discretionary spending, the part of the budget which includes major scientific research funders. If passed, this outlined plan would shrink the U.S. government’s spending on basic science by 10.5%.
- Learn more about the federal budget process and its impact on your lab at Neuronline
February 27, 2017 | The Washington Post
A research study examining the consequences of scientists taking part in advocacy discovered that taking a political stance did not decrease the credibility of the scientist, suggesting that advocacy may not hurt the science community. The study also found that political conservatives rated the fake scientist as less credible than liberals, signaling that partisans will generally stay within party lines and that their party affiliation will impact future interpretations.
- Join the Advocacy Network to stay informed about issues related to neuroscience research at SfN.org
February 28, 2017 | Nature
The UK government announced amendments to the planned changes in the way their country’s research is funded, reassuring UK scientists who had previously protested the upcoming changes. The proposed reforms include the creation of a governing body under the new central research funder, UKRI, to regulate what universities teach, making it the law to protect research funding decisions from political interference, and a promise to maintain the autonomy of universities.
- Find information about global advocacy programs at SfN.org
February 27, 2017 | Scientific American
The author recommends ways for science and science supporters to defeat the so-called war on science. For example, the author suggests framing science as relatable to all Americans, and warns against falling into divisions with people of faith by pointing out that truth-seeking scientists may have more in common with value-driven communities than they realize.
- Learn about U.S. advocacy programs at SfN.org
February 27, 2017 | Science
The packed schedules of many researchers starting their career may lead them to believe they do not have time to participate in advocacy, but the author suggests otherwise, offering a variety of advocacy tasks for early-career researchers. Some of these activities include hosting a webinar viewing party, doing a science advocacy workshop, inviting government representatives to a lab tour, and simply sharing your voice on twitter.
- Read about hosting a lab tour for legislators at SfN.org
March 1, 2017 | Scientific American
In this op-ed, Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker Gary Weimberg, asks if science is offering a compelling story. Weimberg, who’s documentary “My Love Affair with the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond” will soon premier on PBS, argues that a biographic element needs to be added to the scientific narrative in order to create a broader public acceptance of science.
- Learn how to communicate your science at Neuronline
Articles of Interest
February 23, 2017 | The New York Times
Scientists have taught bees to push a ball to the center of a platform for a treat, an activity they don’t do in nature, suggesting that insect brains have learning capabilities. Researchers noticed the bees learned by watching one another complete the task, a type of social learning normally seen in animals with larger brains like monkeys, leading them to believe that the cognitive abilities of insects may be beyond what is currently known.
- Watch a video on how the brain learns at BrainFacts.org
February 24, 2017 | Nature
At the February 15th meeting of the BRAIN Initiative, Christof Koch, president of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, shared a 3D reconstruction of a mouse brain that uncovered three neurons that branch throughout the brain, including one that wrapped around the entire outer layer. Koch’s team found these neurons in a thin sheet of cells called the claustrum, which Koch believes may be evidence that the claustrum could coordinate inputs and outputs of the brain to create consciousness.
- Learn more about the brain and consciousness at BrainFacts.org
February 27, 2017 | The Atlantic
A group of neuroscientists argue that the creation of new technologies is causing the neuroscience community to stray its focus from behavior to the study of individual neurons and neuron networks. These neuroscientists believe that by focusing on individual neurons, the field is losing sight of the bigger picture of how the brain creates behavior, but others argue that we won’t understand how the brain works until we know more about interaction of single neurons and behavior.
- Find more information on neuron networks at BrainFacts.org
February 28, 2017 | The New York Times
This article looks at the Facebook-style social network ResearchGate and how the scientific community is embracing the real time peer feedback it provides. Calvin Coffey, a surgery professor at the University of Limerick, discussed how this network allowed for his research team to get tips and suggestions from field experts which ultimately helped shape his research and final paper.
- Find more information on peer review at Neuronline