Biophysical Society Newsletter - August 2016





Public Affairs BPS-sponsored Golden Goose Award For Work that Led to Breakthrough Pest Control Technique

American Innovation and Competitiveness Act Approved

In late June, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the American Innovation and Com- petitiveness Act, which would reauthorize the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the White House Office of Science Technol- ogy through 2018. The bill is an updated version of the 2010 America COMPETES Act. The bill, S. 3084, was introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI), leaders of the Commerce Committee’s innova- tion and competitiveness working group on federal science and technology research policies, along with Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Bill Nelson (D-FL.) who serve respectively as the chair and ranking member of the Senate Commit- tee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The bipartisan bill reaffirms the NSF merit-based peer-review process for determining grants, codi- fies reforms to increase transparency and account- ability in the grant-making process, and includes measures to reduce regulatory burdens on feder- ally funded researchers. An amendment approved during the bill’s consideration allows for 4 percent growth in the budget per year at NSF and NIST in FY 2018, based on what the Senate has pro- posed for these agencies for FY 2017. The Biophysical Society, through its membership in the Coalition for National Science Funding, thanked the committee for its work on the bill, and particularly for its support of science and the authorized increase, but also encouraged the committee to lengthen the funding authorization beyond 2018. The bill’s chances of becoming law are not par- ticularly good; there is very little time left on the Senate schedule for its consideration. Even if it does not make it to the Senate floor, the bill is significant because it will serve as a marker for the next Congress’s starting point.

Edward F. Knipling and Raymond C. Bushland , two United States Department of Agriculture entomologists, are being posthumously honored with the Golden Goose Award for their study of the Sex Life of the Screwworm Fly. Knipling and Bushland are being honored for research that led to the “sterile insect technique,” in which lab-raised and sterilized male insects are used to overwhelm and eventually eradicate native pest populations. The technique has been herald- ed as “the only truly original innovation in insect control in [the 20th] century,” and continues to inform ongoing fights against other agricultural pests and insects carrying infectious pathogens, including the tsetse fly and the Aedes aegypti mosquito — the primary culprit in transmission of the Zika virus. The Golden Goose Award honors scientists whose federally funded work may have seemed odd or obscure when it was first conducted but has resulted in significant benefits to society. The Biophysical Society is a sponsor of the award. Knipling and Bushland, along with two other teams of researchers, will be honored at the fifth annual Golden Goose Award ceremony at the Library of Congress on September 22.

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