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SBE AC Welcomes New Leadership at Fall Meeting

January 13, 2023

The Advisory Committee (AC) for the Social, Behavioral and Economic (SBE) Sciences Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF) met on December 15 and 16. The SBE meets twice yearly to provide advice, recommendations, and oversight to the Directorate concerning support for research, education, and human resources. Members represent a cross section of social, behavioral, and economic sciences; former FABBS Board Member, Dr. Sandra Graham, also serves on the AC.

Dr. Dominique Brossard, University of Wisconsin-Madison, SBE AC Chair, provided opening remarks and introduced new members Dr. Christopher Ball, Duke University, and Dr. Kristen Olsen, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The robust agenda included several items of interest to FABBS members such as staffing updates, a budget overview, and accomplishments from key initiatives.

Since the SBE AC last met, there have been numerous staffing changes and shifting roles within the Directorate. This was the first meeting for Dr. Kellina Craig-Henderson since she became the Assistant Director of SBE, as well as for her two new division directors, Dr. Joan Sereno, Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences Division (BCS) and of the Social and Economic Sciences (SES), Dr. Rayvon Fouche. Dr. Andy De Soto stepped into the role as senior advisor for innovation, strategic engagements and partnerships in the Office of the Assistant Director. Dr. Antoinette WinklerPrins is currently acting as deputy AD for SBE. Both Dr. DeSoto and Dr. WinklerPrins spoke at the FABBS 2022 Annual Meeting.

The FY2023 budget request for SBE was $330 million, which is a $44 million increase from the actual FY22 funding.  John Garneski, Budget officer for SBE, shared that the request was shaped by three guiding principles: support fundamental research that advances key national priorities, support National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) – the nation’s premier source for information on the science and engineering enterprise, and to support and advance cross-directorate activities that address urgent national challenges.

In 2022, the CHIPS and Science Act established a new National Science Foundation (NSF) directorate and authorized a near doubling of the agency’s budget. Dr. Barry Johnson, serves as the Division Director at Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) talked about NSF programs that have the potential to bolster the legislation, as well as the positive impacts it will have on the directorate.

The Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) was set up in May 2020 to bring timely, actionable guidance to critical questions decision-makers face. Updates on SEAN, an activity of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) were presented by Bob Groves, former member of the National Science Board. SEAN continues to provide evidence-based guidance to policy makers on societal issues such as economic inequality, climate change, mental health, and more.

Attendees were made aware of a new program: The Analytics for Equity Initiative. Remarks were presented by John Finamore, Chief Statistician at SBE. NSF partnered with OSTP, OMB, and other federal agencies to build on the Evidence-Based Policymaking Act and Executive Order 13985 — Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government — by piloting a new way to support social, economic, and behavioral sciences research that leverages federal data assets (ensuring privacy is protected and data are secure) and scientific advances in researching equity-related topics for greater public benefit.

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