National Science Board and NSF SBE Advisory Committee Hold Meetings
National Science Board and NSF SBE Advisory Committee Hold Meetings

May 2018 

The National Science Board (NSB) held its spring quarterly meeting on May 2–3. NSB sets priorities for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which is the primary agency that funds basic and fundamental research and STEM education. NSB also advises the president and Congress on matters related to science and education.

NSF director France A. Córdova updated board members on recent meetings, including the National Science and Technology Council’s committee on the coordination of STEM education. The board also heard remarks from the 2018 Alan T. Waterman Award recipient, Kristina Olson, associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington. Her research has been supported by the NSF Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate.

Olson’s presentation highlighted studies she has done on how young children pick up social cues that inform their views on connections between race and economy and how these beliefs can perpetuate inequality. She also provided findings from a longitudinal study currently underway examining young children’s development of gender identity. Olson is the first social scientist since 2004 to receive the Alan T. Waterman Award, which honors early career scientists and engineers.

The NSF SBE Advisory Committee held its spring meeting on May 9–10. Fay Lomax Cook, assistant director for SBE, provided an update of staff appointments and the FY 2018 and FY 2019 budget.

Cook also described two new initiatives at NSF. The first, convergence accelerators, will focus on leveraging external partnerships to produce “use-inspired” research. The second, the NSF 2026 Idea Machine, builds on the current Big Ideas by soliciting the public for research areas. NSF is hoping to launch the competition in August and will offer cash prizes for the ideas selected by NSF.

The meeting also included brief updates from staff of the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics and from program officers who are leading several of the NSF Big Ideas on which SBE is partnering.

The committee also discussed the Sackler Colloquia on the Science of Science Communication III. Dietram Scheufele (University of Wisconsin-Madison) provided some examples of research-practice partnerships, and noted that a standing committee had been formed to advance science communication and research. Arthur Lupia (University of Michigan) noted that incentives could be provided as part of broader impacts for rigorous communication strategies and evaluation.

NSF provides opportunities for researchers to be involved in the agency’s activities, including serving on advisory committees such as for SBE or for the Education and Human Resources Directorate. Education researchers wanting to provide service also can do so by serving on a review panel or as a rotator through Intergovernmental Personnel Assignments.