News: AAAS News & Notes
26 March 2004
Science and Policy
Federal R&D Budget, Policy Focus of AAAS Forum in April
The AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy is held in Washington each spring to provide a neutral setting for discussion and debate about budget and other policy issues facing the S&T community. Among the speakers scheduled to address the 29th Annual Forum on Science and Technology Policy on 22 to 23 April are U.S. Presidential Science Advisor John H. Marburger III, John D. Graham of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center President Harold Varmus.
Since its beginning in 1976, the Forum has grown into an annual institution that draws more than 500 top science and technology policy experts.
According to Neal Lane, a professor at Rice University and science advisor to the Clinton Administration, the Forum has become so popular because it focuses on topics that are current and of great interest to policy-makers and others in Washington's science policy circles. In 1981, for example, concern about cuts to scientific initiatives following Ronald Reagan's election drove that year's Forum program. In 1987, economic competitiveness was a hot topic. This year, scientific integrity, Internet regulation, and national security are all on the agenda. "The AAAS Forum is the gold-standard event for anyone who needs to keep a finger on the pulse of R&D spending trends or political issues affecting the scientific community," Lane said.
Harold Varmus will deliver the William D. Carey Lecture at the 2004 Forum. The Carey lecture was established in 1989 to honor the former executive officer of AAAS. Others who have given the Carey Lecture include Lane, Shirley A. Jackson, AAAS president and president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Jack Gibbons, former Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Gibbons regards the Forum as key to drawing attention to the importance of federal funding for science and technology.
"This event provides the Science and Technology community with a unique annual opportunity for its constituents to review the status and outlook for science policy," Gibbons said. "It also serves other vital needs, including raising public awareness and acquainting policy-makers with the best ideas to improve the situation in the future."
Graham is head of the OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which published draft guidelines on 15 September 2003 governing peer review by U.S. federal agencies. In a 12 December letter to OMB, the AAAS Council criticized sections of the draft guidelines that relate to the selection of peer reviewers, the public disclosure of reviewers' identities, and the authority to waive the proposed requirements in certain cases. Marburger, who will deliver the keynote address at the 2004 Forum, is director of the U.S. White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. At the 2003 Forum, Marburger addressed visa-processing delays resulting from tightened U.S. security measures.
A new, 5-year budget analysis of proposed federally funded U.S. research and development efforts will be released at the Forum. "The current U.S. administration wants to cut the budget deficit in half over the next 5 years," noted the program's director, Kei Koizumi. "Particularly during a presidential election year, it's important for policy-makers and taxpayers to understand the impacts of any federal budget changes, especially any proposals that may have implications for the pace of scientific discoveries in coming years."
For full program details, or to register now, see www.aaas.org/forum. The Forum is held in conjunction with an Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference, set to take place 23 to 25 April 2004. The student event, which is free and open to the public, includes a science-policy career workshop, career fair, scholarly presentations, and more.
For details on the graduate student event, see www.gwu.edu/~cistp/stglobal/.
Science and Society
Genes, Environment: Influences on Behavior
AAAS and The Hastings Center have collaborated to produce a new publication on behavioral genetics. Behavioral Genetics: An introduction to how genes and environments interact through development to shape differences in mood, personality, and intelligence is aimed at nonscientists and focuses on behavioral genetics research and its broader ethicaland social implications. Among the topics covered are how scientists explore the influence of genes and environment on behavior and how advances in behavioral genetics may challenge our understanding of human nature, personal responsibility, and equality.
Each chapter begins with a fictional, yet plausible, vignette about an individual seeking answers to a question about behavior. The text then provides enough scientific background for the reader to address the question thoughtfully. A glossary indexed according to the chapters explains key words and concepts.
The book may be downloaded and printed from the AAAS Web site at www.aaas.org/spp/bgenes/publications.shtml. To obtain a single print copy at no charge, or to inquire about ordering multiple copies, contact Kevin Alleman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 202-326-6606.