[Taxacom] NSF to Cut Collections Support Program in DBI by half
Scott Lyell Gardner
slg at unl.edu
Fri Mar 2 00:48:49 CST 2012
Dear Friends of Biodiversity:
As some of you may be aware, the FY 2013 budget request for the National
Science Foundation proposes changes to the Collections Support for
Biological Research program. In short, the program would be converted to
a biennial competition and, the budget would be cut in half by this action.
The NSC Alliance and the Society for the Preservation of Natural History
Collections (SPNHC) jointly developed and have sent a letter to NSF BIO
urging reconsideration of the proposed change. The letter has been
signed by the American Association of Museums (AAM), The American
Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), and the Association of Science
Museum Directors (AAMD). The letter is included below.
We encourage all persons and institutions with an interest in long term
maintenance and discovery of biodiversity to take action and contact
NSF, the President of the United States, and your congressperson(s) to
reverse this decision by NSF and, encourage NSF to go the opposite
direction and boost funding to collections support programs.
Secretary, Natural Science Collections Alliance
February 24, 2012
Dr. John Wingfield
Assistant Director for Biological Sciences
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230
Dear Dr. Wingfield:
In recent years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and more
specifically the Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) have supported
important new initiatives to advance digitization of our nation’s
biological collections and improve our understanding of biological
diversity. For these efforts, we offer our sincere gratitude. We write
today, however, to express our concern with a provision in the
President’s fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request for NSF that we feel
would harm our nation’s biological specimen collections. We note with
concern that the budget request proposes changing the Collections in
Support of Biological Research (CSBR) from an annual to a biennial
competition and that the funding for this program would effectively be
cut by half.
The CSBR program provides vitally important support to our nation’s
biological sciences research collections. We respectfully urge you to
consider the negative consequences of this proposed change to the
program and the funding level.
As you are aware, biological science collections are a vital component
of our nation’s research infrastructure and warrant a sustained
investment from the NSF, in the same way that other components of our
scientific research and education infrastructure are supported. Whether
held at a national museum or in a university science department, these
scientific resources contain genetic, tissue, organismal, and
environmental samples that constitute a unique and irreplaceable library
of Earth’s history. The specimens and their associated data drive
cutting edge research on the significant challenges facing modern
society, such as improving human health, food security
and availability, and climate change, and inspire novel
interdisciplinary research that drives innovation and addresses some of
the most fundamental questions related to biodiversity, including:
• How are species distributed in geographical and ecological space?
• What is the history of life on Earth?
• How are major groups of organisms related to one another?
• What factors lead to speciation, dispersal, and extinction?
• What are the impacts of climate change likely to be?
• What information is needed for effective conservation strategies?
The federal Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections
recognized the value of scientific collections in their 2009 report,
which found that “scientific collections are essential to supporting
agency missions and are thus vital to supporting the global research
In light of the importance of scientific collections to U.S. research,
Dr. John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and
Technology Policy, issued a memorandum in October 2010 directing federal
agencies to budget for proper care of collections. The NSF is the
primary federal agency that provides support for non-governmental
collections. Thus, at the same time federal agencies are being tasked
with supporting governmental collections, we would hope that NSF would
sustain its support for non-governmental research collections.
In addition to preserving important biological specimens for ongoing and
future research, CSBR awards are an important source of financial
support to American-owned companies that specialize in cabinetry and
supplies used by museums and universities. CSBR awards also directly
employ researchers and curators, and are used to train the next
generation of biological scientists and collections specialists.
Given the current financial strain at many museums and universities,
CSBR funding is a critical lifeline that helps to ensure proper curation
of specimens. We urge you to reconsider the proposed change to the CSBR
If you have any questions or require additional information, please do
not hesitate to contact us or Dr. Robert Gropp, AIBS Director of Public
Policy, at 202-628-1500 x 250 or rgropp at aibs.org.
Larry Page Ph.D.,President NSCA
Christopher Norris, Ph.D., President Elect SPNHC
Richard O’Grady, Ph.D., Exec. Director, AIBS
Bonnie Styles, Ph.D., President, ASMD
Ford Bell, DVM, AAM
Scott Lyell Gardner, Ph.D.
Secretary, Natural Science Collections Alliance
Curator and Professor
Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology
W-529 Nebraska Hall
University of Nebraska State Museum and
School of Biological Sciences
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0514
e-mail:slg at unl.edu
If we don't work to describe and conserve biodiversity now,
our descendants will be very upset. -slg
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