News from FABBS and the FABBS Foundation
- “National Interest” Research at NSF: Benign or Problematic? »
Just before Congress headed out of town for its August recess, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee introduced legislation that would “provide for greater accountability in Federal funding for scientific research” at the National Science Foundation. The Scientific Research in the National Interest bill is only three pages long and is a duplicate of a section of the America COMPETES legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. The America COMPETES bill reduced authorized funding for NSF’s Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Sciences Directorate by 55% and the Geosciences Directorate by 8%. It was widely opposed by the scientific and higher education communities. Many in the scientific and higher education communities are also concerned about the motivations for, and impact of, the new National Interest legislation.
- Roth presented with Early Career Impact Award at International Society for Developmental Psychobiology Annual Meeting »
Abuse and neglect have a host of negative effects on children, as social workers, doctors, and scientists have known for decades. But now there is evidence that maltreatment can actually impact the brain, and even more surprising, those neurological changes can be passed on to the next generation. Dr. Tania Roth of the University of Delaware has found that maltreatment affects regions of the brain that are associated with behavioral and emotional regulation, working memory, and even skills like spatial navigation. She studies changes in the brains of rats who have been maltreated, but her findings are consistent with human research showing that children who have been abused and neglected have more problems with executive functioning, inhibitory control, and emotional regulation than their peers. Roth’s work is part of the burgeoning field of epigenetics, which studies how nature and nurture work together. Epigenetics research shows that environmental factors can cause genes to be switched on or off, explaining why some people with similar or even identical genes may behave differently. Roth’s research shows that adverse caregiving leads to changes in an epigenetic process called DNA methylation, leading to less genetic transcription or “turning on” of certain genes. Roth is the 2015 FABBS Foundation Early Career Impact Award winner from the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology.
- Criss presented with Early Career Impact Award at Society for Mathematical Psychology Annual Meeting »
At New York’s Syracuse University, cognitive scientist Amy H. Criss, PhD, predicts memory using computer programs similar to those used by meteorologists or market analysts. “It’s like weather forecasting,” she said of her computational models of memory. “You might be right, you might be wrong. You generate predictions of how people might behave, or how they might remember or forget things.” An associate professor of psychology, Criss studies normal memory and describes her work as a potential early step in understanding memory loss. “If we are to have any hope of helping people who have Alzheimer’s disease or other problems that affect memory, we first have to understand how basic memory works.” Criss is the 2015 FABBS Foundation Early Career Impact Award winner from the Society for Mathematical Psychology.
- FABBS Foundation Honors Carol D. Lee »
Carol D. Lee is the Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Education in the School of Education and Social Policy and in African-American Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, U.S.A. She has worked in the Learning Sciences Program at Northwestern from its inception, the first such program in the U.S. She received a B.A. in the Teaching of English from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1966, a Masters of Arts in English from the University of Chicago in 1969, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Chicago in 1991. Her career spans a 49 year history, including work as an English Language Arts teacher at the high school and community college levels, a primary grade teacher, and her current university professorship. She is a founder of four African centered schools and institutions that span a 46 year history, including three charter schools under the umbrella of the Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools (est. 1998) where she serves as chair of the Board of Directors.
- FABBS Foundation Honors Philip Rubin »
Dr. Philip Rubin, CEO emeritus and former Senior Scientist at Haskins Laboratories, is currently a Senior Advisor to the President of Haskins, an adjunct professor in the Department of Surgery at the Yale School of Medicine, a Research Affiliate in Psychology at Yale, and a Fellow at Yale’s Trumbull College.
- NIH Riding High; Cuts, Cuts, and Cuts Elsewhere »
The busy appropriations process on Capitol Hill may be slowing. The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a number of appropriations bills, but none of them have seen floor action. The House of Representatives, on the other hand, has passed a number of bills, but progress on the remaining ones seems to be coming to an end. With a September 30th deadline to wrap up spending plans and a four-to-five week Congressional recess on the horizon, it appears that a Continuing Resolution (CR) will be needed to keep the government running. While the behavioral and social sciences have faced their share of challenges before, this year seems to be especially brutal. While many government programs are facing cuts if current bills become law, FABBS provides a snapshot of some that are relevant to our sciences.
- Kendeou presented with Early Career Impact Award at Society for Text & Discourse Annual Meeting »
Misconceptions about science can be dangerous, like the inaccurate belief that childhood vaccines cause autism. That myth persists even though it has been thoroughly debunked by scientific studies and attacked in national media campaigns. But research by psychologist Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou, 2015 FABBS Foundation Early Career Impact Award winner from the Society for Text & Discourse, suggests that carefully crafted messages can change people’s minds and protect public health. Kendeou, an educational psychologist at the University of Minnesota, has brought together research on reading, cognition, and neuroscience in the Knowledge Revision Components Framework (KReC), which explains how people read and incorporate new information designed to correct inaccurate beliefs.
- D'Onofrio presented with Early Career Impact Award at Behavior Genetics Association Annual Meeting »
Brian D'Onofrio is the 2015 FABBS Foundation Early Career Impact Award winner from the Behavior Genetics Association. As director of the Developmental Psychology Lab at Indiana University, D’Onofrio uses science to enhance the lives of the poor and ease the burden of mental health on children and families. His focus is on the causes and treatments of psychological problems in children and adolescents and the connections between those problems and prenatal care, certain parenting styles and other environmental risk factors.
- Authorization Bill Reducing SBE by 45% Passes U.S. House »
On May 20th, the U.S. House passed the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806), a bill that was two years in the making. Over widespread opposition from the science community, the House Science Committee is seeking to change the process the National Science Foundation uses to identify the best science and literally, the type of science the agency funds.
- US House to Vote on Cuts to NSF’s SBE and GEO Research in Spending Bill »
With much anticipation–and after many meetings with constituents and science advocates–the Chairman of the House Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee introduced his bill to fund the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Fiscal Year 2016. Regarding the bill, Congressman Culberson said, “I want to make the hard sciences a priority—the math and physics and pure science. The fundamental mission of NSF should be those core sciences.” Tell Your Member of Congress that SBE-supported research is vital to the country!
- Bill Cutting NSF SBE Funding by 55% Goes to House Floor: Contact Congress! »
The U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee voted along party lines to favorably report a bill to the House floor that cuts current funding for the National Science Foundation’s Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Sciences Directorate by almost 55%. The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806) is widely opposed by the science and higher education communities.
- House Appropriations Bill Protects Directorates In Part; Small Boost to NSF »
On May 14th, the U.S. House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee marked up and favorably reported the spending bill for NSF and other science agencies. The bill now moves to the full Appropriations Committee.
The spending bill is important both for what it did and did not do. Chairman Culberson (R-TX), a fan of NASA programs that are also included in this bill, provided a small increase in funds for NSF—$50 million or 0.7%. However, he expressed an interest in boosting NSF funding if the White House and Congress can negotiate a larger budget deal that reduces the strain placed on federal funding by the Budget Control Act caps and sequestration cuts.