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Having spent about a year and a half at NSF myself, I think Mike is spot on in his translations of the “NSF-speak” in Reed Beaman’s email.  I, for one, am curious to know what other programs in biology have been placed on hold (in other words, on the chopping block).  Someone should smoke NSF out on this point.

At this point, it is clear that CSBR is in grave peril.  It is essential that we as individuals and as representatives of our institutions provide massive and strongly argued input to NSF.  My guess is that if we loose CSBR now, we won’t see it again, in any form useful to our collections, any time soon.  Sure, programs at NSF undergo periodic review, but make no mistake, this is the pathway to termination or redirection in a form we won’t recognize unless a strong case can be made for the program.

It is important for us to articulate the importance of natural history collections to US science in a broad context.  Sure, stress how essential they are to taxonomic research, but they already know that.  If the argument is solely that we need collections for systematics research, it will be over very quickly.

What is important now is to build a strong case for the importance of collections in all areas of biology, as well as related fields of science such as agriculture and medicine.  In particular, stress the opportunities that collections create in emerging and transformative (sorry for the buzzword) fields such as genomics and all of its diverse applications.  Such input will be particularly effective if you can highlight how researchers at your institution (or anywhere in the US) are using natural history collections in new ways to open up exciting lines of research in diverse fields.

We need to get started on this now, so that those writing statements for groups like ECN and ESA will have time to integrate the best points.

Jim



Jim Woolley
Professor of Entomology
Department of Entomology
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-2475

979-845-9349
979-845-3699 lab
979-845-6305 FAX




On Mar 18, 2016, at 10:36 AM, Michael A. Ivie <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Note the very, very critical phrases here: "Here is what we are able to say at this point."  This translates into 'we are not able to give you critical information that we have.'
"In FY 2017, BIO plans to assess the effectiveness of current DBI programs towards the evolving needs of the biology community,..." translates to: 'But, the programs we feel are actually important will continue to give out funds during this period.'

"The more data we can collect on the impact of collections on education and research, including other societal benefits, the stronger the argument we can make for continued support of CSBR and other collections activities."
translates into 'We are on your side as much as we can be, but we need ammo to be able to save this program.'

I wonder if a Freedom of Information Request on e-mails leading up to this decision would be instructive?

Mike

 



On 3/18/2016 10:54 AM, Shockley, Floyd wrote:
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Here’s a little more directly from the horse’s mouth".
 
Floyd
 
---------------------------------------------------------
Floyd W. Shockley, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.
Collections Manager (Acting)
Department of Entomology
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012, MRC 165
Washington, DC 20013-7012
Tel (office): 202-633-0982
Fax (office): 202-786-2894
Mobile (personal): 703-789-4924
Email:  [log in to unmask] 
 
From: Beaman, Reed S [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2016 12:44 PM
To: Shockley, Floyd <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: RE: CSBR hiatus
 
Floyd – Here is what we are able to say at this point.  Feel free to distribute to your members. 
 
As part of our current assessment, we are evaluating the value of the program, and seek community input.  Here's some information and a method for providing comment directly to us:
 
The Collections in Support of Biological Research (CSBR) Program has been placed on hiatus for Fiscal Year 2017 by the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences.  During this time the program has been asked to evaluate its value to the research and education community.  As part of this evaluation we welcome feedback from any stakeholders, including individuals, institutions, and professional societies.  Please register comments through the CSBR email alias ([log in to unmask]).  Also, here is the blog post: https://dbinsfblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/csbr-fy17/ to which you can respond.  You may also want to follow the BIO Directorate blog (https://nsfbiobuzz.wordpress.com/)
 
Please be assured that during the evaluation period NSF’s commitments to all active CSBR awards will be honored.
 
We appreciate any help you can provide in passing this information along. The more data we can collect on the impact of collections on education and research, including other societal benefits, the stronger the argument we can make for continued support of CSBR and other collections activities. The plan is to engage with umbrella organizations, such as yours, as we assess the impacts of this program.
 
In addition, it is worth pointing you to the NSF’s FY17 budget request.  There’s one paragraph that may help explain -- that I’ve quoted -- but you may to take a closer look through the full document:
 
 
“In FY 2017, BIO plans to assess the effectiveness of current DBI programs towards the evolving needs of the biology community, which have become more complex, diverse, and centered on data storage, access, and analysis. Evaluating current programs, assessing where investments can make a difference in the long term resource needs, and developing a robust STEM pipeline will be a priority. BIO will use FY 2017 to reexamine the goals and objectives of many of DBI’s longstanding research resource and human resource programs. Emphasis will be placed on evaluation, impact, and scalability, to gauge where support from BIO makes a difference and can be leveraged. Several programs will be put on a biennial competition schedule during their assessment and evaluation.
BIO expects this assessment to be complete in time to inform the FY 2018 budget.”
 
As we receive comments, the ones that constructively address the evolving needs for the bio research community will be the most valuable.
 
Best, -Reed
 
-----
Reed Beaman, Program Director
Division of Biological Infrastructure
National Science Foundation
703-292-7163-Office
 
 
 
From: Shockley, Floyd [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2016 11:14 AM
To: BIO DBICSBR <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: CSBR hiatus
Importance: High
 
Drs. Beeman and Roberts,
 
I wanted to reach out to you as a member of the collections community and as the current President of the Entomological Collections Network to get more information on behalf of my constituents, the largest organization representing collections based researchers and support staff at federal, state, and academic entomological collections worldwide.  I am also the lead writer on the recently approved position statement by the Entomological Society of America about the importance of entomological collections (http://www.entsoc.org/PDF/2016/ESA-PolicyStatement-EntomologicalCollections.pdf). I was troubled to learn of your decision to put the CSBR program on hiatus in 2016, and I was hoping to speak with you by email, phone or in-person (since I’m here in the DC area) about this decision and its potential impact on the collections community that I represent.  In particular, I’m hoping to gain more information about: 1) why you have made this decision; 2) why you feel it was important to do so; 3) whether or not there was a problem with the program solicitation or review process that necessitated the top-level review; and 4) whether this hiatus is truly anticipated to be temporary or the first step in phasing out this critical funding program.  
 
I also would like the opportunity to express the concerns of the collections and staff that I represent as President of ECN.  I’m happy to make an appointment for this purpose and would prefer to do so since you are no doubt as busy as I am.  Based on the outcome of our discussion, I will be crafting a formal response letter on behalf of ECN.  Please let me be clear, I am requesting a meeting and speaking on behalf of the Entomological Collections Network and NOT in my capacity as an employee of the Smithsonian Institution.
 
Best Regards,
 
Floyd
 
---------------------------------------------------------
Floyd W. Shockley, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.
Collections Manager (Acting)
Department of Entomology
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012, MRC 165
Washington, DC 20013-7012
Tel (office): 202-633-0982
Fax (office): 202-786-2894
Mobile (personal): 703-789-4924
Email:  [log in to unmask] 
 

-- 
__________________________________________________

Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.

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