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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 Policy Archives available under Group Pages.


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Top tags: Congress  appropriations  USDA  House  NSF  Senate  NIH  DOE  President Obama  Farm Bill  OSTP  biofuels  award  education  event  fellowship  international  White House  workforce  COMPETES Act  energy  funding  GMO  grants  NSB  Alert  HHMI  National Academies  New York Times  nomination 

The U.S. Department of Energy Solicits Nominations for the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award

Posted By Kathy R. Munkvold, Monday, December 19, 2011

The Lawrence 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: 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

For a list of previous Lawrence Award laureates see

All nomination materials and support letters for the 2012 E. O. Lawrence Award must be received by March 15, 2012, 11:00 PM, ET. No materials will be accepted after the submission deadline has passed.

Tags:  award  DOE 

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Applications open for 2012 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award

Posted By Adam Fagen, Monday, November 14, 2011
The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is now accepting applications for its 2012 AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award (EPPLA). The award recognizes graduate students in the biological sciences who have demonstrated initiative and leadership in science policy.

EPPLA recipients receive first-hand experience at the interface of science and public policy, including the following:
  • A trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) Congressional Visits Day, an annual event that brings scientists to the nation's capital to advocate for federal investments in the biological sciences, with a primary focus on the National Science Foundation. The 2012 event will last for two days and may be held between March and May. The official dates will be announced in 2012.
  • Policy and communications training, and information on federal science budgets and the legislative process.
  • Meetings with Congressional policymakers to discuss the importance of federal investments in the biological sciences.
  • A 1-year AIBS membership, including a subscription to the journal BioScience and a copy of "Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media."
  • A certificate and membership in the EPPLA alumni network.
The 2012 award is open to U.S. citizens enrolled in a graduate degree program in the biological sciences, science education, or closely allied field. Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in and commitment to science policy and/or science education policy. Prior EPPLA winners and AIBS science policy interns/fellows are not eligible.

Applications are due by January 20, 2012, and include a cover letter, statement, resume, and letter of reference.  Additional details are available on the AIBS website.

Good luck to those applying!

Tags:  AIBS  award 

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NSB issues call for 2012 honorary award nominations

Posted By Adam Fagen, Tuesday, September 06, 2011
The National Science Board (NSB) has issued the call for nominations for its 2012 honorary awards. Nominations for each of the awards is due Wednesday, November 2, 2011.

Information about the two awards from the NSB from a press release is reproduced below:

2012 Vannevar Bush Award

Honoring Lifelong Leadership in Science and Technology and Contributions to the Nation through Public Service

The Vannevar Bush Award is awarded annually to exceptional lifelong leaders in science and technology who have made substantial contributions to the welfare of the Nation through public service activities in science, technology and public policy.

Candidates for the Vannevar Bush Award must be U.S. citizens and should have demonstrated outstanding leadership and accomplishment in meeting at least two of the following selection criteria: distinguished him/herself through public service activities in science and technology; pioneered the exploration, charting, and settlement of new frontiers in science, technology, education and public service; demonstrated leadership and creativity that have inspired others to distinguished careers in science and technology; contributed to the welfare of the Nation and mankind through activities in science and technology; and/or demonstrated leadership and creativity that has helped mold the history of advancements in the Nation's science, technology, and education.

Recent recipients include: Charles M. Vest, President of the National Academy of Engineering and President Emeritus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Bruce Alberts, Editor-in-Chief, Science Magazine; Mildred Dresselhaus, Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Norman Augustine, former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board, Lockheed Martin Corporation. For a list of past recipients of this award, visit the Vannevar Bush Award Recipients on the NSB website.

For detailed nomination instructions and further information about this award, visit the Vannevar Bush Award on the NSB website.

2012 National Science Board Public Service Award

Honoring Service in Public Understanding of Science and Engineering

The National Science Board Public Service Award honors individuals and groups that have made substantial contributions to increasing public understanding of science and engineering in the United States. These contributions may be in a wide variety of areas that have the potential of contributing to public understanding of and appreciation for science and engineering--including mass media, education and/or training programs, and entertainment.

The NSB Public Service Award is typically given to one individual and one group (company, corporation or organization) each year. Members of the U.S. Government are not eligible to receive the award.

Candidates for the NSB Public Service Award should have demonstrated outstanding leadership and accomplishment in meeting the following selection criteria: increased the public's understanding of the processes of science and engineering through scientific discovery, innovation and its communication to the public; encouraged others to help raise the public understanding of science and technology; promoted the engagement of scientists and engineers in public outreach and scientific literacy; contributed to the development of broad science and engineering policy and its support; influenced and encouraged the next generation of scientists and engineers; achieved broad recognition outside of the candidate's area of specialization; and fostered awareness of science and technology among broad segments of the population.

Past recipients include Moira Gunn, host of Tech Nation; San Francisco's Exploratorium; NUMB3RS, the CBS television drama series; Ira Flatow, Host and Executive Producer of NPR's Science Friday; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; Bill Nye, the Science Guy; and NOVA, the PBS television series. For a list of past recipients of this award, visit the Public Service Award Recipients on the NSB website.

For detailed nomination instructions and further information about this award, visit the Public Service Award on the NSB website.

Members of the ASPB community are encouraged to submit nominations for one or both of these prestigious awards or to recommend candidates for ASPB to nominate.  All materials are submitted through the Honorary Nominations system on the National Science Foundations' FastLane.

Tags:  award  NSB  NSF 

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World Food Prize awarded to former presidents of Ghana and Brazil

Posted By Adam Fagen, Tuesday, June 21, 2011
The 2011 laureates of the World Food Prize were announced at a ceremony held the U.S. Department of State.  For the first time, the prize was awarded to two former heads of state:  John Agyekum Kufuor, former president of Ghana (left), and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil (right).

The two were honored for their personal commitment and visionary leadership while serving as presidents of their country in creating and implementing government policies to alleviate hunger and poverty in their countries.

Some excerpts from the award announcement describes the laureates' accomplishments:

A guiding principle for President John Kufuor during the entirety of his two terms as president was to improve food security and reduce poverty through public- and private-sector initiatives. To that end, he implemented major economic and educational policies that increased the quality and quantity of food to Ghanaians, enhanced farmers’ incomes, and improved school attendance and child nutrition through a nationwide feeding program....

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made it clear even before he took office that fighting hunger and poverty would be a top priority of his government. He called upon all elements of Brazilian society to embrace his goal to ensure three meals a day for all citizens, to alleviate poverty, to enhance educational opportunities for children, and to provide greater inclusion of the poor in society.

The World Food Prize was conceived by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since 1986, the World Food Prize has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. 

Hosting the event at the State Department were USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also spoke at the event.

In his remarks, USAID Administrator Shah announced Feed the Future's "Borlaug 21st Century Leadership" program, a $32.5 million investment to help shape the next generation of leaders in agriculture. This program will provide mentoring and training opportunities for agriculture professionals across the globe and will help institutions strengthen their agriculture systems and best practices to serve as premier learning institutions.

Additional information:

Tags:  award  Feed the Future 

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ASPB members honored by the White House

Posted By Adam Fagen, Thursday, November 11, 2010
Two members of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) are among the 85 researchers named by President Obama as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. Plant biologists Dominique C. Bergmann (Stanford University) and Magdalena Bezanilla (University of Massachusetts Amherst) are among those receiving the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Dominique C. Bergmann, PhD, is assistant professor of biology at Stanford University.  Her laboratory has made notable contributions to elucidating the development of plant stomata as well as to our understanding of cell fate and patterning in plants and other multicellular organisms.  Bergmann earned her PhD at the University of Colorado at Boulder and conducted postdoctoral research at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Plant Biology.  She was the 2010 recipient of ASPB’s Charles Albert Shull Award, which is made annually for outstanding investigations in the field of plant biology by a scientist who is younger than 45 years of age or who is fewer than 10 years from the granting of the doctoral degree.  In conjunction with her receipt of the 2010 Shull Award, Bergmann will be speaking as part of the awards symposium at ASPB’s Plant Biology 2011 meeting, which will be held August 6–10, 2011, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Magdalena Bezanilla, PhD, is associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Her laboratory pioneered a model system for studying plant tip growth, which is integral for processes such as fertilization and the absorption of water and minerals by plant roots, and has made significant contributions establishing molecular links between the actin cytoskeleton within plants and cell growth.  Bezanilla earned her PhD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and conducted postdoctoral research at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Washington University in St. Louis.  She is the 2010 recipient of the American Society for Cell Biology Women in Cell Biology Junior Career Recognition Award, which honors exceptional scientific contributions to cell biology and demonstrated potential for continued scientific achievement and leadership.

The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) within the Executive Office of the President.  Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service, as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.  Recognized scientists and engineers have received research grants for up to five years to further their studies in support of critical government missions.

The awards are conferred annually at the White House following recommendations from participating agencies.  Bergmann was selected following her receipt of a research grant from the National Institutes of Health, and Bezanilla was selected on the basis of a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation.

As quoted in a release from OSTP, President Obama said, "science and technology have long been at the core of America’s economic strength and global leadership.  I am confident that these individuals, who have shown such tremendous promise so early in their careers, will go on to make breakthroughs and discoveries that will continue to move our nation forward in the years ahead.”

(White House announcement; ASPB press release; Stanford Report article; UMass press release)

Tags:  award  President Obama 

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