This blog from ASPB's public affairs unit will provide updates on policy developments in Washington and other plant biology news impacting the ASPB community. Please send any news, comments, or suggestions to ASPB's public affairs director, Adam Fagen, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Policy Archives available under Group Pages.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC ,
Thursday, April 12, 2012
On March 29, the Obama Administration announced a "Big Data Research
and Development Initiative”.
The Big Data initiative aims to develop new tools and techniques to manage vast
and complex data sets to help address societal challenges in areas such as
environmental and biomedical research, education, and national security.
initiative involves six Federal departments and agencies, including the
National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH),
Department of Defense (DOD), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA),
Department of Energy (DOE), and the US Geological Survey (USGS). The agencies will invest more than $200 million to
improve how large data sets are accessed, organized and interpreted through a
number of ongoing and new activities. According to the White House press
release, the initiative aims to:
Advance state-of-the-art core technologies
needed to collect, store, preserve, manage, analyze, and share huge quantities
Harness these technologies to accelerate the
pace of discovery in science and engineering, strengthen our national security,
and transform teaching and learning.
Expand the workforce needed to develop and use
Big Data technologies.
As part of the initiative, several new competitions were
announced at NSF, NIH, and DARPA. Below is information on selected individual
This solicitation will advance
science and technology to manage, analyze, visualize, and extract information
from large data sets. According to the solicitation, proposals should
address one of three areas: data collection and management, data analytics, or
e-science collaborative environments. All proposals should also address
capacity building. NIH seeks proposals that tackle the above issues as
part of data sets related to health and disease, especially imaging, molecular,
cellular, electrophysiological, chemical, behavioral, epidemiological, or
clinical data sets.
Many offices at NSF and NIH are
participating in the solicitation. NSF offices include the Directorates
for Biological Sciences (BIO), Computer and Information Science and Engineering
(CISE), Education and Human Resources (EHR), Engineering (ENG), Geosciences
(GEO), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), and Social Behavioral and
Economic Sciences (SBE); and the Offices of Cyberinfrastructure (OCI) and Polar
Programs (OPP). NIH offices include the National Cancer Institute (NCI),
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), National
institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institute of General Medical Sciences
(NIGMS), National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS),
National Library of Medicine (NLM), and National Human Genome Research
Letters of Intent:
Letters of Intent are not required.
Due Dates: No preliminary
proposals are required. Full proposals are due June 13, 2012 for
mid-scale projects and July 11, 2012 for small-scale projects.
Total Funding and Award Size:
NSF and NIH plan to award a total of $25 million to 15 to 20 projects.
Small-scale awards will be up to $250,000 per year for up to three years, while
mid-scale awards will be up to $1 million per year for up to five years.
Eligibility and Limitations:
This solicitation uses regular NSF eligibility requirements. There are no
limits on the number of proposals that can be submitted per organization.
Principal investigators are limited to two proposals.
NSF has released a Dear Colleague letter to alert the
community that it will establish a Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st
Century Science and Engineering (CIF21) track in its Integrative Graduate
Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program. The CIF21 track aims
to educate and support the next generation of researchers working on big data
issues. NSF will publish a funding opportunity with more details
shortly. The Dear Colleague letter is available at http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2012/nsf12059/nsf12059.jsp.
Colleague Letter – Data-Intensive
Education-Related Research Funding Opportunities
EHR, SBE, CISE, and OCI released a joint Dear
Colleague letter to alert the community that a solicitation on data-intensive
education research will be released shortly. The solicitation will call
for participants in an Ideas Lab to "advance teaching and learning focused on
transforming large datasets into knowledge that leads to actions that can
improve learning environments”. NSF expects to fund a range of research
projects generated at the Ideas Lab. The Dear Colleague letter also highlights
existing NSF funding opportunities in this area. The Dear Colleague
letter is available at http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2012/nsf12060/nsf12060.jsp.
In addition to the new
competitions listed above, NSF, DOE, and USGS announced newly awarded grants
National Institutes of Health
(NIH) – 1,000 Genomes Project Data Available on Cloud
NIH posted the 1000 Genomes
Project data on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) computing cloud. According
to the NIH press release, the
data set is the world’s largest on human genetic variation and will now be available
for use by researchers.
National Science Foundation
(NSF) – New Big Data Awards in Ongoing Initiatives
The Directorate of Geosciences will award the
first round of grants to support the Earth Cube
initiative, which aims to create a unified data infrastructure for the
The Expeditions in Computing program will award $10 million for a project
at University of California, Berkeley to integrate machine learning, cloud
computing, and crowd sourcing to convert large volumes of data into useable
The Research Training Groups in the Mathematical
Sciences (RTG) program will
award $2 million to the University of California, Davis for undergraduate
training in graphical and visualization techniques for complex data.
The Focused Research Groups in the Mathematical
Sciences (FRG) program will
award $1.4 million to an unnamed group to support statistical and biological
research on protein structures and biological pathways.
The international Digging into Data Challenge
announced its second round of awards to support humanities and social science
research involving large data sets.
Department of Energy (DOE) –
New Scientific Discovery Through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) Institute
DOE announced a $25 million award to create a new
SciDAC Institute, the Scalable Data Management, Analysis, and Visualization
Institute (SDAV). SDAV will be led by Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory and will bring together six national laboratories and seven
universities to help scientists manage and visualize data from large and complex
simulations run on DOE supercomputers.
US Geological Survey – Big
Data for Earth System Science Awards
The John Wesley Powell Center
for Analysis and Synthesis
announced its latest round of awards, which will contribute towards the Big
Data initiative. These awards will help improve understanding of a range
of issues including how species respond to climate change, earthquake
recurrence rates, and the next generation of ecological indicators.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates, LLC,
Monday, December 19, 2011
Lewis-Burke Associates LLC – December 2011
The U.S. Congress voted to accept a package of fiscal
year (FY) 2012 appropriations measures to avoid a shutdown of a significant
portion of the Federal Government as the current Continuing Resolution was set
to expire Friday night. This action followed months of wrangling over the
federal debt and deficit and reducing federal spending. The final bills
represent real compromise and sustain important 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 House of Representatives passed the package early on Friday while
the Senate passed the bills on Saturday.
The final conference agreement details funding amounts
and agency directives for federal agencies, including:
Defense Appropriations Bill – Department of Defense
Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill
– Department of Energy (DOE)
Labor, Health and Human Services, Education
Appropriations Bill – Department of Education, and the Department of Health and
Human Services including the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The $915 billion Consolidated Appropriations bill
includes $30.698 billion for NIH for an increase of $299 million (0.7 percent)
above FY 2011. The final bill creates the National Center for Advancing
Translational Sciences (NCATS), which is the top priority for NIH Director
Francis Collins, 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)—a better outcome than the House
draft bill, which recommended Executive Level III, but the first time Congress
has decreased the NIH salary cap.
The DOE Office of Science would receive $4.889 billion,
an increase of $46.34 million (about one percent) above FY 2011. The
final bill provides $20 million each to establish two new Energy Innovation
Hubs – one on Batteries and Energy Storage and one on Critical Materials.
The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) programs of the Department
are slated for level funding at $1.825 billion. The Advanced Research
Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), will receive $275 million, half of the $550
million requested by the President.
DOD basic and applied research programs remain a priority
within the bill as the overall increase for the Department was held to $5
billion above the FY 2011 level, a compromise between the House’s $17 billion
increase and the Senate’s proposed freeze. For DOD research overall, a total
of $72.4 billion is approved. While this represents a $2.5 billion
decrease below the current level, the reduction is less than experienced by
other aspects of the defense budget.
The final bill includes the necessary funding to continue
the maximum Pell grant award at $5,550, while
making changes to the program to reduce cost. However, the program is
still expected to face increased funding pressures because of the overall
growth of the program.
Additionally, the Senate rejected, in a 43 to 56 vote, a
resolution that would have triggered a 1.83 percent across-the-board reduction
against all discretionary spending except for defense, military construction,
and veterans programs. The reduction was designed to pay for an
additional $8.1 billion in disaster relief appropriations, which will now be
provided as emergency spending following Senate approval of that
The Congress also passed, and the President has signed, a
bill to extend the Continuing Resolution through December 23rd to allow the
President to review and sign the Consolidated Appropriations bill into law this
week. These actions will finally complete the FY 2012 appropriations
Award honors mid-career, U.S. scientists for exceptional advances in
research and development congruent with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE)
mission to advance the economic and energy security of the United States. The
award is given to scientists through the DOE’s Office of Science in the
following eight categories: Atomic, Molecular, and Chemical Sciences;
Biological and Environmental Sciences; Computer, Information, and Knowledge
Sciences; Condensed Matter and Materials Sciences; Energy Science and
Innovation; Fusion and Plasma Sciences; High Energy and Nuclear Physics; and
National Security and Nonproliferation.
The Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award was established in 1959
in honor of a scientist who helped elevate American physics to world
leadership. E. O. Lawrence was the inventor of the cyclotron, an accelerator of
subatomic particles, and a 1939 Nobel Laureate in physics for that achievement.
The Radiation Laboratory he developed at Berkeley during the 1930s ushered in
the era of "big science," in which experiments were no longer done by
an individual researcher and a few assistants on the table-top of an academic
lab but by large, multidisciplinary teams of scientists and engineers in entire
buildings full of sophisticated equipment and huge scientific machines. During
World War II, Lawrence and his accelerators contributed to the Manhattan
Project, and he later played a leading role in establishing the U.S. system of
national laboratories, two of which (Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore)
now bear his name.
Each Lawrence Award category winner receives a citation
signed by the Secretary of Energy, a gold medal bearing the likeness of Ernest
Orlando Lawrence, and a $20,000 honorarium; if there are co-winners in a
category, the honorarium is shared equally.
Nominations and selection guidelines can be found here: http://science.energy.gov/lawrence/nomination-and-selection-guidelines/.
Briefly, nominations are made by submitting a letter of justification, a
statement explaining the nominee’s connection to DOE support, a separate
bibliography comprising no more than five significant publications related to
the achievement, a curriculum
vitae, at least three and no more than six letters of support, and
a suggested citation. Submission of all nomination materials, including letters
of support, in PDF format, is made online at http://www.orau.gov/lawrence/.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates, LLC,
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Media attention has focused on the failure of the 12-member
congressional Supercommittee to reach agreement on a package to reduce the
federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next nine years. However,
universities and science organizations are not the victims of the deficit
impasse. Generally, federal funding for scientific research is not the target
of deficit reduction for several reasons: (1) the amount of domestic
discretionary funding for science is not large enough to have significant
impact on deficit reduction; (2) science has bipartisan support among
politicians since it is part of the innovation economy upon which the country’s
financial recovery is partially dependent; and (3) dismantling the scientific infrastructure of the country is counter-productive in the global
technology-driven forces of the 21st century. There are aspects of the current
federal deficit paralysis that indirectly affect higher education –
particularly relating to student aid, academic health centers, and tax policy –
but reducing direct federal support of scientific research at academic
institutions is not front-and-center.
Now, many are trying to determine what happens next as Congress
still has much work to do before adjourning next month. With funding fully
enacted for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Agriculture and Food Research
Initiative (AFRI) the competitive funding arm of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA), with modest increases (NSF and NOAA), flat funding (AFRI)
or a slight reduction (NASA), completion of the fiscal year (FY) 2012
appropriations process, especially for NIH funding, is an important challenge.
In addition to funding the remaining appropriations bills, which are currently
operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) through December 16th, there are
other issues looming before Congress, such as extension of unemployment
benefits, doctor payments, and tax extenders. This report describes the impact
of the collapse of the Supercommittee at the federal level; however, actions
might be taken by state and local governments to respond to possible
implications associated with the collapse of the Supercommittee process.
Outlook for Science Funding
Among its many to-dos, Congress must still complete nine
remaining FY 2012 appropriations bills, including bills that fund the National
Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of
Defense (DOD), and the Department of Education (ED). It is expected that this
will be done through one large "omnibus” package before the end of the calendar
year. As previously reported, other science agencies for which appropriations
bills have been passed—namely NSF, NASA, NOAA, and the Department of
Agriculture (USDA)—fared relatively well in FY 2012, receiving budgets that are
about flat or slightly increased above the FY 2011 enacted level. A similar
outcome is expected for basic research in agencies like NIH and DOE in the
final appropriations agreement.
One caveat is that it is not uncommon for a modest
across-the-board reduction to be included in an omnibus appropriations bill
should it be warranted to keep discretionary appropriations within the overall
cap of $1.043 trillion enacted in the Budget Control Act (debt limit agreement).
Should the appropriations process stall, there has been some discussion of extending
the current CR into early next year, which would result in a freeze for all
programs at the current (FY 2011) level until Congress completes an omnibus
bill or enacts a CR for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Planning is also underway by agencies for the President’s FY
2013 budget request which is expected to be more conservative than in past
years and may even be delayed due to the uncertainty of future budget cuts. The
FY 2013 process remains very uncertain at the moment with flat funding for
federal research agencies considered "a win” in the coming years.
Scenarios for FY 2014 and Beyond
In August, the Budget Control Act enacted a process that would
institute automatic across-the-board budget cuts over nine years, known as
sequestration, in the event that the Supercommittee could not reach a deal.
However, given that the cuts are not scheduled to go into effect until January
2013 (after the election) and are subject to subsequent revision by Congress,
it is possible they will be delayed or never triggered at all. In the event no
changes are made to the automatic budget cuts, the White House Office of
Management and Budget would be required to reduce the discretionary
appropriated budget by $109 billion per year for nine years, allocated equally
between defense spending and nondefense spending.
Reductions in discretionary spending from 2014 to 2021 would be
achieved by reducing the aggregate overall caps on such spending for each year.
While the President could propose specific cuts to agencies such as NIH and
NSF, specific appropriations would still be subject to the annual congressional
appropriations process and program funding could be increased or further
decreased within the overall capped amount for all discretionary spending. As a
general rule of thumb, if these cuts were allocated proportionately, it would
mean 6 to 8 percent reductions to the domestic spending agencies.
Concerns are already being expressed by the Administration and
by both Democratic and Republican Members of Congress over the magnitude of
potential spending cuts to defense. The Congressional Budget Office estimates
that the DOD budget could be cut by as much as 10 percent in FY 2013 under the
mandated sequester with additional reductions in discretionary defense spending
over the nine-year period to estimated savings of about 8.5 percent in FY 2021.
Such reductions, totaling an estimated $492 billion, could impact big defense
programs already at issue in Congress, as well as drive changes in the
structure and mobility of the nation’s military services already under
consideration. Additional reductions in mandatory defense spending are also
likely under current law. While some want to undo the sequester for defense,
the President has threatened to veto any bill that focuses only on exempting
In short, the budget outlook for the next several years is
uncertain at best. The main question on the table is whether and how to skirt
the automatic cuts that would be levied against FY 2013 appropriations as
required under the Budget Control Act. However, flat funding for science agencies
remains a possibility over the next few years and should be viewed as a "win”
in the current budget climate.
Steven Koonin has announced that he is stepping down from his position as Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
ScienceInsider reports that he had been looking around for some time, because his position did not allow him enough power, especially over the budget for the DOE Office of Science. That office is lead by William Brinkman. Michael Lubell with the American Physical Society was quoted as saying, "Here was a guy [Koonin] who had no budget authority, and that's a tough position."
Among other achievements during his 2.5 years at DOE, Koonin helped draft the agency's strategic plan and led its first Quadrennial Technology Review. He has also been connected to ASPB, including by speaking in the ASPB's President's Symposium on bioenergy at Plant Biology 2011 this past summer in Minneapolis.
Koonin has a background in theoretical physics and previously served as a professor and provost at Caltech. He also served as chief scientist for BP before coming to DOE. He will be joining the Institute for Defense Analyses' Science and Technology Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., upon his departure.
DOE has not yet announced who will be filling the vacated Under Secretary position.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects
Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will hold its third annual Energy Innovation Summit on
February 27–29, 2012, at the Gaylord Convention Center near Washington,
D.C. Dr. Arun Majumdar, Director of ARPA-E, recently announced the summit,
which is designed to bring together the business and energy investment
communities with leaders in clean energy research to make key connections in
the energy technology pipeline.
The three-day event will include a pre-conference workshop
on Monday, February 27, designed to provide
researchers with insight into ARPA-E’s priorities, as well as guidance in the
grant review process. ARPA-E program managers will be present to assist current
and/or potential grantees about funding for ARPA-E’s clean energy technology
program. This event is highly recommended for the opportunity to meet
ARPA-E program managers, to discuss ARPA-E priorities for future funding
opportunities, and to network with the clean energy business and investment
On Tuesday and Wednesday, February 28 and 29, ARPA-E will
host the Innovation Summit and Technology Showcase. Keynote speakers
include the following:
Bill Gates, Microsoft Chairman and CEO;
Fred Smith, FedEx Chairman, CEO and President;
Lee Scott, former WalMart CEO;
Steven Chu, Secretary of the Department of
Arun Majumdar, Director of ARPA-E.
The full program is not yet available, but participants will
have the opportunity to hear from leaders in the clean energy field, as well as
investors, policymakers and representatives from global corporations and
government agencies. The showcase will highlight past ARPA-E award
winners and finalists, as well as their technologies. This year’s
showcase will feature projects drawn from the fields of grid-scale storage,
power electronics, batteries for electric vehicles, building efficiency,
advanced carbon capture and electrofuels, rare earth alternatives, plant
engineering for fuel applications, advanced thermal storage, network
integration architecture for the electrical grid, and power electronics for photovoltaic applications.
Registration is now open to attend the full
three-day event or to only the pre-conference workshop or the summit itself. Reduced rates are provided for
registration on or before January 26, 2012 (see below). Information on
the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit can be found at: http://www.energyinnovationsummit.com/.
Participation in the Showcase requires submitting a Showcase
Application by December 15. An additional fee of $500 also
applies. More information about the Showcase criteria and how to apply
can be found at: http://www.energyinnovationsummit.com/showcase/. Rates for participation in the third annual
ARPA-E Innovation Summit are listed below:
Posted By Adam Fagen,
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will host a webinar on Thursday, September 22 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. EDT about the 2011 U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry, a report detailing biomass feedstock potential nationwide. The report examines the nation's capacity to produce a billion dry tons of biomass resources annually for energy uses without impacting other vital U.S. farm and forest products, such as food, feed, and fiber crops. It provides industry, policymakers, and the agricultural community with county-level data and includes analyses of current U.S. feedstock capacity and the potential for growth in crops and agricultural products for clean energy applications.
During the webinar, authors of the report will present the purpose, approach, and major assumptions of the 2011 Billion-Ton Update, including how it differs from the 2005 Billion-Ton Study. Authors will also cover the report's findings and discuss how its data might be used by both the public and private sector to grow the bioenergy industry and help achieve President Obama's goals of expanding renewable energy resources and developing alternative fuels for America's transportation sector. Finally, the webinar will include a demonstration of how to explore Billion-Ton Update data onDOE's Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework website and opportunities for attendees to ask questions.
In addition to registering for the webinar, please submit your questions and comments about the Billion-Ton Update to DOE's Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework forum on the subject. This will help the webinar focus on the most frequently discussed topics about the study.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Sunday, September 11, 2011
The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed the fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget appropriation for the Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the FY 2012 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. The bill totals $31.625
billion, a reduction of $57 million below the FY 2011 enacted level for
programs and agencies funded in the bill.
Given the competition for funding
within the bill, the DOE Office of Science, which funds basic research
associated with agency missions, fared quite well. The Senate Committee
approves $4.843 billion for the DOE Office of Science, which is essentially a
freeze at the FY 2011 enacted funding level. The Committee recommendation
for the DOE Office of Science is $573.5 million (10.6%) below the President’s
Detailed funding recommendations
for the various programs within the Office of Science are displayed in the
chart below. The Senate bill would provide continuation funding for the
three existing Energy Innovation Hubs (Hubs) – the Fuels from Sunlight Hub; the
Energy Efficient Building Systems Design Hub, and the Nuclear Energy Modeling
and Simulation Hub, for which the President requested $24.3 million each.
As did the House of Representatives, the Senate Committee also approves the new
Batteries and Energy Storage Hub within the Office of Basic Energy Sciences,
providing $20 million for the new Hub in lieu of the requested $34.2 million.
The Committee also recommends $10 million for the predictive modeling of
internal combustion engines initiative.
The Senate Committee is silent on
the President’s request for $20 million in the Industrial Technologies program
within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) to establish
a new Critical Materials Hub even though its overall recommendation of $96
million for the program matches the House-passed bill which does fund the
Hub. The Senate Committee does not approve the third new Hub requested by
the President for Advanced Modeling Grid Research.
The Senate Committee concurs with
the President’s request to provide up to $100 million to continue support for
the 46 existing Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), but not to fund
additional centers at this time.
For the Biological and
Environmental Research (BER) program, the Senate Committee recommendation of
$621.8 million is $10 million (2%) above FY 2011. The Committee
recommends $295.1 million for climate and environmental science, which the
House significantly reduced.
The Senate Committee would
approve $7.5 million to support graduate fellowships.
For the Advanced Research
Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the Senate would provide $250 million to
continue support for research into high-risk, high-reward transformational new
energy technologies, an increase of $70.4 million (39%) above the FY
2011 enacted funding level, but $300 million (55%) below the President’s
The applied research programs of
DOE relating to renewable energy through Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
(EERE) are sustained at the current level of $1.796 billion for FY 2012. The
President requested $3.2 billion for these programs. The House reduced
EERE to $1.3 billion overall. Details of the Senate recommendations for
wind and solar energy, biomass, and the technologies programs are included in
the following chart. New initiatives within the EERE programs are
unlikely given the constraints under current budget allocations.
Additional details on the funding
recommendations approved by the Senate Committee are included in the chart
Senate Energy and Water
Development Appropriations Bill, FY 2012
As reported by the Senate Energy and Water Development
Appropriations Subcommittee, 9/7/11
Anyone participating in ASPB's annual meeting, Plant Biology 2011, will definitely want to stay through the meeting's final session, the ASPB President's Symposium on Plants and BioEnergy.
Kicking off the session will be one of the nation’s chief advocates for renewable energy research—Dr. Steven E. Koonin (at right), who is Under Secretary for Science at the Department of Energy (DOE). A computational and nuclear physicist, Dr. Koonin served as a faculty member at the California Institute of Technology for nearly 30 years including nearly a decade as Caltech's provost. He was most recently chief scientist at BP before being confirmed as DOE Under Secretary in May 2009.
Dr. Koonin will be followed by the leaders of several DOE-supported Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs). The EFRCs are harnessing the most basic and advanced discovery research in a concerted effort to establish the scientific foundation for a fundamentally new U.S. energy economy:
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued its 2011 Strategic Plan, which outlines the
broad, cross-cutting and collaborative goals that stretch across our complex.
It is to serve as a blueprint for DOE to help address the nation’s energy,
environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and
The plan outlines that DOE's mission is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. The report identifies four overarching goals:
Catalyze the timely, material, and efficient transformation of the nation’s energy system and secure U.S. leadership in clean energy technologies.
Maintain a vibrant U.S. effort in science and engineering as a cornerstone of our economic prosperity with clear leadership in strategic areas.
Enhance nuclear security through defense, nonproliferation, and environmental efforts.
Establish an operational and adaptable framework that combines the best wisdom of all Department stakeholders to maximize mission success.
Among the specific targeted outcomes is "Develop cellulosic ethanol technologies by 2012 that can facilitate mature production costs less than $2.00/gallon."
In the area of bioenergy, DOE will continue to develop biotechnology solutions for energy, the environment, and carbon sequestration, with particular emphasis on Basic science research translates into cost-effective technologies for next-generation production of biofuels.
The Department will support research in the discovery, design, and synthesis of biomimetic and bioinspired functional approaches and energy-conversion processes based on principles and biological concepts. The emphasis is the creation of robust, scalable, energy-relevant processes and systems that work with the extraordinary effectiveness of processes from the biological world. Areas of particular focus include the following:
Understand, control, and build complex hierarchical structures by imitating nature’s self- and directed-assembly approaches.
Design and synthesize environmentally adaptive, self-healing multicomponent systems that demonstrate energy conversion and storage capabilities found in nature.
Create functional systems with collective properties not achievable by simply summing the individual components.
Create biomimetic and/or bioinspired routes for the synthesis of energy-relevant materials.
Develop science-driven tools and techniques for the characterization of biomolecular and soft materials.
Genomics-based systems biology research, agronomic strategies, and fundamental understanding of biological and chemical deconstruction of biomass are particularly important elements of these activities. Research supported in this area will have impacts beyond bioenergy, underpinning technologies such as batteries and fuel cells, catalysis, hydrogen generation and storage, and membranes for advanced separation.
The targeted outcome is to apply systems biology approaches by 2015 to create viable biofuels processes and greatly increase
Posted By Adam Fagen,
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
One of the 500+ House amendments offered on the Continuing Resolution (CR) that would cut $100B from the federal budget would eliminate funding for biological and environmental research (BER) within the Department of Energy's Office of Science.
Amendment No. 304: At the end of the bill (before the short
title) insert the following new section:
Sec. 4002. None of the funds provided by this Act under
the heading ``Department of Energy, Science'' shall be
available for biological and environmental research
authorized under subtitle G of title IX of the Energy Policy
Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16311 et seq.).
Rep. McClintock has offered a second amendment (no. 305) that removes the funding that would otherwise be appropriated to BER under the CR. Rep. McClintock represents the 4th district of California, which includes the northeast corner of the state, including most of the state north and east of Sacramento.
We believe that Rep. McClintock has offered his amendment in order to eliminate climate change research. But BER also supports a significant amount of research unrelated to climate change, including fundamental and applied research in support of DOE's energy, environment, and basic research missions, such as the development of biofuels.
Among the programs that could be shuttered if these cuts are enacted would be the three Bioenergy Research Centers: BioEnergy Science Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at the University of Wisconsin, and Joint BioEnergy Institute at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It could also mothball a number of BER user facilities including the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, Atmospheric Radiation Measurement, and the Joint Genome Institute.
ASPB urges you to add threats to DOE's biological and environmental research portfolio to your talking points when you contact your Congressional representative.