Also in this Issue
APA Hosts Meeting with FBI Behavioral Science Unit
On October 1st, the Science Policy Office hosted a meeting between leaders of the behavioral and social science research community and the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit (BSU). The planning dinner was convened as a follow-up to a successful half-day colloquium entitled, “The Role of Human Factors in Homeland Security” at the annual meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) in Baltimore. The overall purpose of these and other meetings APA has held in conjunction with FBI Academy staff is to help facilitate their interaction with a range of behavioral scientists to help guide the FBI as it begins re-orienting to a domestic terrorism agenda.
NSF Funding Bills Wait in the Wings, but House Version Includes APA Language Supporting Science of Learning Centers
On October 9th, the House Appropriations Committee reported out a bill (H.R. 5605) funding a number of federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation. Like the Senate version, which was reported out of committee in July, the House bill now takes its place in line on the voting calendar. Given the shake-up in the Senate and the vagaries of the lame-duck session in both congressional chambers, it’s anyone’s guess when this and other funding bills will pass, make it to conference for negotiation, and finally head to the President for signature.
One piece of exciting news is that APA’s recommended language in support of NSF’s new Science of Learning Centers made it into the report accompanying the House bill, almost verbatim. The House Appropriations Committee “…recognizes that investment in basic, multidisciplinary research on learning is crucial to both successful educational reform and effective workforce development. In this regard, the Committee's recommendation includes support for the NSF Science of Learning Centers. This program is intended to build collaborative research communities of scientists, educators, community groups, and industry capable of addressing fundamental questions in learning and then integrating these results into ongoing federal education reform initiatives...”
Planning Underway for NSF Learning/Cognition Workshop
Learning and cognition are integral to much of the science currently supported by the NSF. This is evident from Foundation-wide initiatives such as “Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence" that included “Learning and Intelligent Systems,” and “Learning for the 21st Century Workforce”. Support for learning is also evident from the nature of the individual research projects supported within each of the NSF Directorates. However, NSF support for the basic science of animal learning and cognition, traditionally based in the Directorate for Biological Sciences (Division of Integrative Biology & Neuroscience, Animal Behavior Program), has virtually ceased.
APA Senior Scientist, Susan Brandon, PhD, is working with members of the animal learning/cognition community in preparing a proposal for a workshop at the NSF to address this issue. The goal of the workshop would be to highlight research in fundamental processes of learning and cognition to NSF personnel, and to illustrate how the fundamental research is important and vital to the kinds of research involving learning that is already supported by NSF. The proposed one-day workshop would accomplish this by inviting representative researchers to NSF to offer brief descriptions of their investigations. The morning session would focus primarily on fundamental process research, and the afternoon session would focus primarily on instances of how this research feeds forward into the broader domain of research on learning and cognition. Whereas NSF personnel are the primary target group, it is expected that the researchers would also benefit from the opportunity to learn how to best present their science to the various NSF Program and Divisional Directors that it is hoped will participate. Dr. Brandon is soliciting input from Program and Division staff within the four NSF Directorates that have demonstrated a current/historical interest in learning and cognition research.
APA Urges Continued, Strong Support for Behavioral Research at DOD
On October 23rd, President Bush signed into law the annual appropriations bill funding the Department of Defense (DoD) for FY03. For the first time, DoD will meet a science community goal by designating 3% of its overall agency budget for the Science & Technology line, which includes all basic research. Even more importantly for behavioral research, the report accompanying the funding bill includes APA-drafted language urging DoD to fully fund all behavioral research sponsored by the military laboratories. Because the appropriations process has dragged into the current fiscal year, APA policy staff are already working at ensuring appropriate support for behavioral research in the FY04 DoD budget.
Barriers to Tobacco Cessation
On October 24th, APA partnered with the Center for the Advancement of Health (CFAH) in providing testimony before the Cessation Subcommittee of the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health. APA member Jessie Gruman, PhD, the President and Executive Director of CFAH, delivered the testimony on behalf of both organizations focusing on patients who need more intensive interventions to quit. Dr. Gruman's testimony was preceded by that of fellow APA member Jack Henningfield, PhD, who discussed a number of research issues relevant to successful tobacco cessation. We are grateful to APA's Assistant Executive Director for Professional Development, Geoff Reed, Ph.D., for his editorial assistance in drafting the testimony. It is our hope that this will seed a broader science-practice initiative to involve more practitioners in tobacco cessation efforts.
NIMH Holds Workshop on Training Geriatric Mental Health Researchers
On October 28-29th, NIMH’s Aging Research Consortium held a workshop to discuss the growing need for training more geriatric mental health researchers. With an exploding older population, the supply of service providers as well as researchers to advance the science is being outpaced by demand for those with training in geriatric mental health. Increased support for training geriatric mental health researchers is one avenue being explored to increase the flow of researchers into the workforce pipeline. Participants included both psychiatrists and psychologists, discussing how NIMH could best encourage clinicians to begin and maintain a research track in geriatric mental health.
APA members attending the workshop included: former APA President Norman Abeles, PhD, Michigan State University; Steven Zarit, PhD, Penn State University; Margaret Gatz, PhD, University of Southern California; Forrest Scogin, Jr., PhD, of University of Alabama and Chair-elect of the APA Committee on Aging. They highlighted the need for increased NIMH support for predoctoral training in basic and clinical geriatric psychology, an increase in sites for training of geriatric mental health, and growing programs that facilitate collaboration between the arts and science psychology departments and psychologists based in medical centers.
APA’s Minority Aging Network in Psychology (MANIP) was highlighted as one way to increase the pool of ethnic minority researchers in the field of gerontology. The weeklong MANIP Summer Institute on Aging is available to undergraduate junior and seniors, as well as first- and second-year graduate students in the field of psychology.
Election Reform Law Calls for Human Factors Research
Whether or not you were pleased with the outcome of the mid-term elections, some good news emerged for election reform last month. On October 16, the Senate passed the "Help America Vote Act" (H.R. 3295) and the President signed it into law on October 29. The explanatory text that accompanies the bill (H. Rept. 107-730, Sec. 243)calls for a report on human factors research "...including usability engineering and human-computer and human-machine interaction which feasibly could be applied to voting products and systems design to ensure the usability and accuracy of voting products and systems...". The report clearly reflects testimony delivered by APA Fellow, David Woods, PhD, before the Committee on House Administration on May 24, 2001. Dr. Woods was asked to testify after a Congressional Research Service staff member had heard his presentation at a Decade of Behavior briefing on election reform elsewhere on Capitol Hill in March and recommended him as a witness to the Committee staff. Dr. Woods was the only psychological scientist to testify on election reform and it is heartening when an advocacy effort like this comes to fruition. We hope it encourages science advocacy within the broader APA membership.
APA's Division 50 Provides Recommendations for SAMHSA Treatment Improvement Protocol Panel
During the latter half of October, Science Policy staff worked with the leadership of Division 50 to forward a slate of Consensus Panel nominees for a Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) under development by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This TIP will focus on Substance Abuse Treatment and Trauma and will be developed across two in-person meetings in DC and a series of virtual meetings across 2003. Selection of Consensus Panel members was to be completed by mid-November. For additional background, view the PDF version of the program from APA's Government Relations website.
NIH Director Meets with Behavioral and Social Science Organizations
Representatives of fourteen behavioral and social science groups met on October 31st with Dr. Elias Zerhouni, who has been on the job for about seven months. It was the first time a permanent NIH Director has sat down with behavioral and social science organizational representatives since the directorship of Bernadine Healy, MD, in 1992. APA’s Executive Director for Science Kurt Salzinger and Division 7’s Deborah Phillips (representing the Society for Research in Child Development) were among the science leaders who spoke with Zerhouni about such important topics as research training, basic research, and restructuring NIH. A full summary of the meeting is available from APA's Science Policy Insider News.