FABBS February 15, 2019 Newsletter


Deal Reached to Keep Government Open; Administration FY 2020 Budget Request Delayed

At press time, a budget deal to avoid another partial shutdown awaited the President’s signature. The conference report provides budgets for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2019 to nine departments and dozens of agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF). The bill would give $8.075 billion to NSF, a $308 million increase from FY 2018, reflecting $6.52 billion for research and related activities and $910 million for the Education and Human Resources Directorate.

During the uncertainty leading up to the budget deal, FABBS joined nobel laureates and science community leaders on a letter to Members of Congress and the President. The letter explained how the shutdown harmed the American scientific enterprise.

Congress will turn their attention to the FY 2020 budget and will once again be facing budget caps, according to a 2011 deficit reduction law. Since the Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress has waited until the very last minute before coming to bipartisan agreements to raise the caps. In the absence of an agreement, Congress will face spending cuts of $126 billion from this year’s levels.


The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health has issued a request for information to gather broad public input on a revised definition of behavioral and social science research. The definition is used to assess and monitor NIH support of the behavioral and social sciences across all NIH Institutes and Centers. Comments must be submitted through IdeaScale by February 22, 2019.

NSF Announces Substantial Funding Opportunities Relevant to SBE Scientists

There are new funding opportunities at NSF for behavioral and brain sciences. They are called the “Big Ideas” and they focus on critical issues in science and society. The purpose of each Big Idea is to motivate dynamic and innovative scholars to create and implement new and potentially transformative interdisciplinary approaches to some very large societal challenges. See letter from NSF Associate Director of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arthur “Skip” Lupia here.

Joanne Tornow to Lead Biological Sciences Directorate

Dr. Tornow has served with NSF for nearly two decades, including two years as deputy assistant director for NSF’s Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences directorate (SBE); and a year as acting head of SBE. This past year she led BIO in an acting capacity Her work at NSF has included supporting cross-disciplinary, convergent research that draws on the strengths of scientists and engineers across multiple fields to solve problems.

FABBS joins community sign-on letter urging the Education Department to use research and evidence to inform Title IX Sexual Harassment Regulations

Led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA), FABBS joined 72 scientific societies to submit comments to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed changes to Title IX regulations.

Title IX is the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding. In November, the Education Department issued draft changes to Title IX that would narrowly redefine sexual harassment and restrict the processes at U.S. schools and colleges for reporting and responding to charges of sexual harassment.

FABBS President, Nora Newcombe, said “The potential rollback of Title IX protections for women has serious implications for science and is of concern to us all. These comments are based on evidence and aim to create safe and productive environments for scientific discovery. FABBS appreciates the opportunity to take a stand to support our female colleagues and the women who we teach and train.”

The comments submitted by the scientific societies today emphasize three major concerns and cite relevant research:

  • The Definition of Harassment Has Been Narrowed at Odds with the Intent of Title IX
  • The Circumstances Under Which Title IX Applies Are Too Restrictive
  • The Notice Requirements Are Too Restrictive



Vision Sciences Society