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Upcoming Events

Considerations for the Future of Animal Science Research
May 13-14, 2014
Washington, DC

View a list of Sustainability-related meetings at The National Academies 

Past Events:

Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
December 5-6, 2013
Washington, DC

Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability
November 12, 2013
Washington, DC
 

Best Practices for Risk-Informed Remedy Selection, Closure, and Post-Closure Control of Contaminated Sites
October 30-31, 2013
Washington, DC


Energy Water Considerations for the Sustainable Reuse and Recycling of Materials
September 10, 2013
Washington, DC

Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connections & Governance Linkages
July 24, 2013
Davis, CA

Pathways to Urban Sustainability: A Focus on Portland
May 28-29, 2013
Portland, OR



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Science and Technology for Sustainability (STS)
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E-mail:
Sustainability@nas.edu


 


Ongoing Studies: Sustainability at the National Academies

VIEW ONGOING STUDIES BY SUSTAINABILITY TOPICS:

Sustainability - the IssueNatural Systems
People & Their CommunitiesInstitutions & Indicators
Life Support Systems: Atmosphere, Water & FoodSustainability, Research & Development
Economy & Industry

Sustainable Energy


Sustainability - The Issue  

Sustainability Linkages in the Federal Government
The National Academies’ Science and Technology for Sustainability Program is undertaking a nationally-focused study entitled Sustainability Linkages in the Federal Government. The Linkages initiative will attempt to identify and describe the linkages among domains such as energy, water, and health that are not routinely considered in decision making. The premise is that sustainability is a systems problem that cannot be achieved by separately optimizing its pieces. The study will build upon existing and emerging expertise throughout the scientific, technological, and policy communities, describing the nexus where domains intersect but existing institutions and disciplines do not. The committee will convene a series of fact finding meetings, commission expert-authored case studies, review the pertinent literature, and author an overall consensus report, which will include a decision framework that can be used by U.S. policymakers and regulators to help them examine the consequences, trade-offs, synergies, and operational benefits of sustainability-oriented programs. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

Symposium on Science, Innovation, and Partnerships for Sustainability Solutions 
An ad hoc committee under the STS Program held a three day public symposium, May 16-18, 2012, on fostering partnerships and linkages between disciplines, sectors, agencies and nations in sustainability science and innovation. The symposium featured invited presentations and discussions to showcase federal investments and institutional structures regarding sustainability, identify opportunities to help promote practices that would lead communities toward sustainability, and address communication issues needed to recognize science and innovation as central to the understanding and adoption of sustainable practices.  Video of the sessions, PowerPoint presentations , and the symposium summary are available. Dissemination activities are being planned for early 2013. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

Sustainable Acquisition: Fostering Sustainability Considerations into Public and Private Sector Procurement Tools and Capabilities 
An ad hoc committee, under a collaboration between the STS program and Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, organized a two day public workshop in December 2011 on fostering better sustainability considerations in procurement tools and capabilities across the public and private sectors. The workshop featured invited presentations and discussions to assess the current landscape of green purchasing tools, identify opportunities and emerging requirements for enhanced and/or new tools, identify potential barriers to progress (such as cross-tool interoperability), and explore potential solutions. It also considered associated training required to realize the full benefits of these tools. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

Japan-U.S. Workshop on Sustainable Energy Futures 
The STS program hosted a joint Japan-U.S. workshop on sustainable energy futures on June 26, 2012, in conjunction with the June 2012 meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability. The one-day workshop explored effective strategies and the research and technology needed to achieve sustainable energy solutions in Japan and the U.S. Workshop participants identified possible priorities for sustainable energy research and discussed future collaboration between the two countries on research and innovation in the area of sustainability. A brief, individually-authored summary of the workshop will be issued in the near future. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

Regional Approaches to Urban Sustainability: A Focus on the Portland Region 
An ad hoc committee under the STS Program will organize a public workshop to examine issues relating to sustainability and human-environment interactions in the Portland metropolitan region. Likely topics that will be addressed include: the role of land use restrictions on development; transportation innovations and economic and social challenges. The committee will develop an agenda in consultation with regional stakeholders (academia, city/county governments), so that the presentations and panels reflect place-based knowledge and approaches to sustainability. The workshop will feature invited presentations and group discussion, and will likely be patterned after similar workshops that were held in Atlanta and Houston(Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

Pathways to Urban Sustainability: A Focus on the Houston Metropolitan Region
The National Academies organized a public workshop to examine issues relating to sustainability and human-environment interactions in the Houston metropolitan region held in January 2012. Topics addressed included energy and air quality management, hazard mitigation, and land use considerations. The committee developed an agenda in consultation with regional stakeholders (academia, city/county governments), so that the presentations and panels reflect place-based knowledge and approaches to sustainability. The workshop featured invited presentations and group discussion, and was patterned after similar workshops held in 2009 on research and development on urban systems and in 2010 on urban sustainability in the Atlanta metropolitan region(Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

Sustainability at the U.S. EPA
An ad hoc committee under the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program (STS) will author a consensus report for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) to help define their efforts to incorporate sustainability concepts into agency programs. This study will build on existing sustainability efforts that ORD has conducted by strengthening the analytic and scientific basis for sustainability as it applies to human health and environmental protection within the Agency's decision-making process. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

A Sustainability Challenge: Food Security for All
The National Academies' Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability will organize two public workshops in 2010 to help establish the dimensions of the food security challenge and explore how to sustainably meet growing food demands during the coming decades. The first workshop, Measuring Food Insecurity and Assessing the Sustainability of Global Food Systems, will examine the empirical basis for past trends, the current situation and projections for the future. The second workshop, Exploring Sustainable Solutions for Increasing Global Food Supplies , will examine a set of issues fundamental to assuring that food supplies can be increased to meet the needs of the world's growing population--now expected to grow to 9 billion by the year 2050.  (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

Certification of Sustainable Products and Services: A Workshop
A steering committee organized a weeklong public workshop in January 2009 aimed at understanding the situation of those making key decisions to purchase and produce certified goods and services, and to clarify the scope and limitations of the scientific knowledge that might contribute to the economic success of certified products. The workshop began with a ground-clearing discussion of certification practices and panel discussions including NGOs active in certification and advocacy, scholars of the field, and people from business with substantial experience with certification and its corporate and public politics.  (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

Expanding Biofuel Production - Sustainability and the Transition to Advanced Biofuels - Lessons from the Upper Midwest for Sustainability
An ad hoc committee organized a workshop in June 2009 that assessed the sustainability impacts of expanding biofuel production at a regional level. Workshop participants assessed lessons learned from dramatic increases in corn based fuels and identified the implications of advanced biofuel production, examining feedstock production, refining, distribution and use. The objective of the workshop was to inform local, state and federal decision-makers and to suggest policies that could be developed to encourage more sustainable practices and to mitigate potentially adverse impacts on specific regions of the country as the U.S. transitions to the next generation of biofuels. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

Pathways to Urban Sustainability: Lessons from the Atlanta Metropolitan Region
The National Academies will organize a workshop September 30-October 1, 2010 in Atlanta to foster discussion of the metropolitan region's approach to urban sustainability, with an emphasis on building the evidence base upon which policies and programs might be developed. Participants will explore how the interaction of various systems (natural and human systems; energy, water, transportation systems) affect the region's social, economic, and environmental conditions. Discussions will center on the challenges the region faces, innovative approaches to addressing these complex challenges, performance measures to gauge success, and opportunities to link knowledge with on-the-ground action. The event will be carried out in cooperation with local partners and hosted by the Georgia Institute of Technology, but will also engage local, state, and federal agencies in order to explore how their resources could best support sustainable improvements in the Atlanta metropolitan region. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

The National Academies' Second Sustainability R&D Forum, Transitioning to Sustainability: The Challenge of Developing Sustainable Urban Systems
The National Academies' Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability hosted a forum on September 23, 2009 to foster discussion of current and planned R&D activities on issues of sustainability in urban systems. More than half of the world's population now lives in urban areas and the share of urban residents is expected to grow. Cities are already strained in their capacities to provide healthy, safe, and affordable environments for living and working. The challenge is thus to develop more environmentally sustainable urban systems that also provide for sustainable economic growth. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

The Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
The Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability provides a forum for sharing views, information, and analyses related to sustainability. Members of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability include senior decision-makers from the U.S. government, industry, academia, and non-profit organizations who are in a position to play a strong role in promoting sustainability. Through its activities, the Roundtable identifies new ways in which science and technology can contribute to sustainability. The goal for the Roundtable is to mobilize, encourage, and use scientific knowledge and technology to help achieve sustainability goals and to support the implementation of sustainability practices. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program) 

Partnerships for Sustainability
The National Academies' Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability convened a symposium to examine the multi-stakeholder partnership record in addressing issues associated with sustainability. The symposium focused on the challenges that the partnerships have addressed, including: involvement of several sectors, action at varying scales, from local to global, a combination of public and private financing, and a complex set of science questions. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program)  


People and Their Communities
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Addressing the Challenges of Climate Change through the Behavioral and Social Sciences
An ad hoc committee would plan and convene two public workshops. The focus would be on two areas about which insufficient attention has been paid to the potential contributions of behavioral and social sciences. The areas are incentives for mitigation (i.e., behavioral elements in a strategy to curb or reduce unwanted climate change) and facilitating adaptation (i.e., behavioral and social determinants of societal capacity to cope with unwanted climate change). (Center for Economic, Governance, and International Studies) 

Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change on Social and Political Stresses
The National Research Council is undertaking a study to evaluate the evidence on possible connections between climate change and U.S. national security concerns and to identify ways to increase the ability of the intelligence community to take climate change into account in assessing political and social stresses with implications for U.S. national security. The study panel will develop a conceptual framework for addressing such issues and develop findings and conclusions regarding the key climate-security connections and issues of assessment of climate-related security risks.  It will also identify variables that should be monitored and ways that indicators of climate change, impacts, and vulnerabilities might be developed and made useful to the intelligence community in assessing climate-related threats to U.S. national security.
(Board on Atmospheric Sciences, DBASSE Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change)

Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions
The standing committee will examine, explore, and consider issues on the use of emerging science for environmental health decisions. For this process, it will provide a public venue for communication among government, industry, environmental groups, and the academic community about scientific advances in methods and approaches that can be used in the identification, quantification and control of environmental impacts on human health. The topics covered will build on recent NRC reports on toxicity testing and toxicogenomics and will explore new developments in toxicology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and related fields. Specifically, topics may include the use of information about gene-environment interactions in decisions regarding human health; the importance of environmentally mediated epigenetic modifications; use of mechanistic information about molecular pathways involved in toxicity; the impact of DNA repair processes on environmental health risks; application of technological advances in identifying chemical effects on gene, protein and metabolite expression; bioinformatics; computational and systems biology modeling; and methods for improving exposure assessment.  (Board on Life SciencesBoard on Environmental Studies and Toxicology)

Preventing the Global Epidemic of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD): Meeting the Challenges in Developing Countries
The Institute of Medicine will convene an ad hoc committee to study the evolving global epidemic of cardiovascular disease and offer conclusions and recommendations pertinent to its control and to a range of public and private sector entities involved with global health and development. The proposed study should take advantage of the concept frameworks of the 1998 IOM report, the 2004 Earth Institute Report, the 2007 "Grand Challenges" report, and a series of global cardiovascular health declarations (Victoria 1992, Catalonia 1995, Singapore 1998, Victoria 2000, Osaka 2001, and Milan 2004). It should synthesize and expand relevant evidence and knowledge based on findings from research and development, with an emphasis to developing pertinent concepts of global partnership, collaborations, and recommending actions targeted at global governmental organizations, NGOs, policy and decision makers, funding agencies, academic and research institutions, and the general public.  (Board on Global Health)

Public Health Decision-Making under Uncertainty
An ad hoc committee will conduct a study and prepare a report for the Environmental Protection Agency on decision-making about environmental threats to human health under various types of uncertainty. The study will consider specific approaches from several areas of public health for informing decisions with quantitative analysis that reflects uncertainty in risks. In addition, it will consider methods for communicating uncertainty in risk information to a range of interested parties including environmental decision makers (in the EPA and their state-based partners) and citizens. (Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice)

Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine
The Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine was established to provide a mechanism for parties interested in environmental health from the academic, industrial, and federal research perspectives to meet and discuss sensitive and difficult environmental health issues of mutual interest in a neutral setting. The purpose is to foster dialogue, but not to provide recommendations.   (Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice


Life Support Systems: Atmosphere, Water, and Food
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America's Climate Choices
In response to a request from Congress, the National Academies have launched America's Climate Choices, a suite of studies designed to inform and guide responses to climate change across the nation. Experts representing various levels of government, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and research and academic institutions have been selected to serve on four panels and an overarching committee.   (Board on Atmospheric Sciences & Climate)

Assessment of Water Reuse as an Approach for Meeting Future Water Supply Needs
The Water Science and Technology Board proposes to undertake a comprehensive study of the potential for water reclamation and reuse of municipal wastewater to expand and enhance the nation's available water supply alternatives. This broad study will consider a wide range of uses, including drinking water, non-potable urban uses, irrigation, industrial process water, groundwater recharge, and water for environmental purposes. The study will consider technical, economic, institutional, and social challenges to increased adoption of water reuse, and it will provide practical guidance to decision makers evaluating their water supply alternatives. (Water Science and Technology Board)

Challenges and Opportunities in the Hydrologic Sciences
This study will identify the challenges and opportunities in the hydrologic sciences, including a review of the current status of hydrology and its subfields and of their coupling with related geosciences and biosciences, and the identification of promising new opportunities to advance hydrologic sciences for better understanding of the water cycle that can be used to improve water resources and environmental engineering and management. The goal is to target new research directions that utilize the capabilities of new technologies and not to critique existing programs at NSF or elsewhere. (Water Science and Technology Board)

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Stock Rebuilding Plans of the 2006 Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act
An ad hoc committee will undertake an analysis of the effects of the 2006 Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act (FCMRA) mandate to rebuild overfished stocks, including an evaluation of success in stock rebuilding, and the identification of changes made to fisheries management plans in order to establish rebuilding schedules.  In addition, the study will review the success of stock rebuilding plans both in the United States under the FCMRA and internationally, evaluate currrent methods for defining maximum sustainable yield-based reference points and for determining the probability that a stock will rebuild by a certain date, and identify systemic knowledge gaps that impede the implementation of rebuilding programs. (Ocean Studies Board)

Evaluation of Chesapeake Bay Program Implementation for Nutrient Reduction to Improve Water Quality
The National Research Council (NRC) proposes to evaluate and provide advice on Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) nutrient reduction efforts.  To carry out this work, the NRC will appoint a multidisciplinary committee of experts that will provide advice to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the District of Columbia, other federal agencies, and other interested parties. The committee will review the CBP, identify technical and strategic shortcomings, and recommend options for improving the effectiveness of its nutrient reduction program in order to accelerate reaching the overall goals to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. (Water Science and Technology Board; Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources; Ocean Studies Board)

Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle (Eighth Revised Edition)
A committee will prepare a report that reviews the scientific literature on the nutrition of beef cattle. All life phases and types of production will be addressed. The report will include the following elements: a comprehensive analysis of recent research on feeding and nutrition of beef cattle including research on the amounts of amino acids, lipids, minerals, vitamins, and water needed by growing and reproducing beef cattle; a summary of recent research on energy systems used in beef cattle nutrition; a summary of the composition of feed ingredients, mineral supplements, and feed additives routinely fed to beef cattle; a summary of information about coproducts from the biofuels industry, which will include information about the various types of products and their most effective use and information about phosphorus and sulfur contents; and a review of nutritional and feeding strategies to minimize nutrient losses in manure and reduce greenhouse gas production. (Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources)

Preparing for the Third Decade (Cycle 3) of the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program
The project will provide guidance to the U.S Geological Survey on the design and scope of the NAWQA program as it enters its third decade of water-quality assessments. The committee will assess accomplishments of the NAWQA program since its inception in 1991 by engaging in discussions with the Cycle 3 Planning Team, program scientists and managers, and external stakeholders and users of NAWQA data and scientific information. The committee will also review USGS internal reports on the program's current design for monitoring, assessments, research, and relevance to key water topics. (Water Science and Technology Board)

Responding to Oil Spills in Arctic Marine Environments
The National Research Council will assess the current state of the science regarding oil spill response and environmental assessment in the Arctic region (with a specific focus on the regions north of the Bering Strait), with emphasis on potential impacts in U.S. waters. As part of its report, the NRC-appointed committee will assess existing decision tools and approaches that utilize a variety of spill response technologies under the types of conditions and spill scenarios encountered at high latitudes. The committee will review new and ongoing research activities (in both the public and private sectors), identify opportunities and constraints for advancing oil spill research, describe promising new concepts and technologies for improving the response, including containment (surface and subsurface) approaches to reduce spill volume and/or spatial extent, and recommend strategies to advance research and address information gaps. The committee will also assess the types of baselines needed in the near-term for monitoring the impacts of an oil spill and for developing plans for recovery and restoration following an oil spill in U.S or international waters where a spill could potentially impact US natural resources. (Ocean Studies Board, Marine Board, Polar Research Board)

Review of the National Ocean Acidification Research Plan
An ad hoc NRC committee will review the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification (IWGOA) strategic plan for federal research and monitoring on ocean acidification based on the program elements described in the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2009 and the advice provided to the IWGOA through the 2010 National Research Council report Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean . Specifically, the review will consider the following elements: goals and objectives; metrics for evaluation; mechanisms for coordination, integration, and evaluation; means to transition research and observational elements to operational status; coordination with existing and developing national and international programs; and community input and external review. (Ocean Studies Board)

Review of the Scientific Accomplishments and Assessment of the Potential for Future Transformative Discoveries with U.S.-Supported Scientific Ocean Drilling
The National Science Foundation has requested that the National Research Council appoint an ad hoc committee to review the scientific accomplishments of U.S.-supported scientific ocean drilling (Deep Sea Drilling Project [DSDP], Ocean Drilling Program [ODP], and Integrated Ocean Drilling Program [IODP]) and assess the potential for future transformative scientific discoveries.  (Ocean Studies Board; Board on Earth Sciences & Resources)

Review of the St. Johns River Water Supply Impact Study
An NRC committee overseen by the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academies will review the progress of the St. Johns River Water Supply Impact Study (WSIS). Communities in the St. Johns River watershed in east central Florida are facing future drinking water supply shortages that have prompted the St. Johns River Water Management District (the District) to evaluate the feasibility of surface water withdrawals. At the current time, drinking water is almost exclusively supplied by withdrawals from groundwater. Reliance on groundwater to meet growing the growing need for public supplies is not sustainable. The St. Johns River and the Lower Ocklawaha River are being considered as possible alternatives to deliver up to 262 million gallons of water per day to utilities for public supply.  (Water Science and Technology Board)

A Review of the USDA Agricultural and Food Research Initiative 
An NRC committee will perform an independent assessment of the USDA Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, including the quality and value of research funded by the program and the prospects for its success in meeting established goals and outcomes. The study committee will prepare a report of its assessment. In addition to its findings and conclusions, the committee will identify aspects of the implementation of AFRI that could improve how it functions and its effectiveness in meeting its goals and outcomes. (Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources)

Sustainable Water and Environmental Management in the California Bay-Delta
At the request of Congress and the Departments of the Interior and Commerce, a committee of independent experts will be formed to review the scientific basis of actions that have been and could be taken to simultaneously achieve both an environmentally sustainable Bay-Delta and a reliable water supply. In order to balance the need to inform near-term decisions with the need for an integrated view of water and environmental management challenges over the longer-term, the committee will undertake two main projects over a term of two years resulting in two reports. (Water Science and Technology Board)

Understanding and Monitoring Abrupt Climate Change and its Impacts
This study will address the likelihood of various physical components of the Earth system to undergo major and rapid changes (i.e., abrupt climate change) and, as time allows, examine some of the most important potential associated impacts and risks. This study will explore how to monitor climate change for warnings of abrupt changes and emerging impacts. (Board on Atmospheric Sciences & Climate)


Economy and Industry 
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Economic and Environmental Impacts of Increasing Biofuels Production
The NRC will appoint a committee of approximately 15 experts to examine and synthesize information on projections of future U.S. biofuels production and its impacts. To inform its analysis, the study committee will seek the input of feed grain producers; food animal producers; producers of other food products; energy producers (renewable and petroleum-based fuel producers, fuel blenders); forest owners and forest products manufacturers and users; individuals and entities interested in nutrition, or in the relationship of the environment to energy production; producers and users of renewable fuel feedstocks; users of renewable fuels; and experts in agricultural economics from land grant universities. (Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources; Board on Energy & Environmental Systems

Overcoming Barriers to Electric Vehicle Deployment
An ad hoc committee will conduct a study identifying the market barriers slowing the purchase of electric vehicles (EVs, which for this study include pure battery electric vehicles [BEVs] and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles [PHEVs]) and hindering the deployment of supporting infrastructure in the United States.  The study will draw on input from state utility commissions, electric utilities, automotive manufacturers and suppliers, local and state governments, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, federal agencies, and others, including previous studies performed for the Department of Energy (DOE), to help identify barriers to the introduction of electric vehicles, particularly the barriers to the deployment of the necessary vehicle charging infrastructure, and recommend ways to mitigate these barriers. The study will focus on light-duty vehicles but also draw upon experiences with EVs in the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle market segment. (Board on Energy & Environmental Systems, Studies and Special Programs Division)

Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences in the Next Decade
An ad hoc committee will formulate a short list of high priority research questions in the geographical sciences that are relevant to societal needs. The questions will be written in a clear, compelling way and will be supported by text and figures that summarize research progress to date and outline future challenges. (Board on Earth Sciences & Resources)


Natural Systems
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A Review of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro (WH&B) Management Program
At the request of the Bureau of Land Management, the National Research Council (NRC) will conduct an independent, technical evaluation of the science, methodology, and technical decision-making approaches of the WH&B Program. In evaluating the program, the study will build on findings of three prior reports prepared by the NRC in 1980, 1982, and 1991 and summarize additional, relevant research completed since the three earlier reports were prepared. Relying on information about the program provided by BLM and on field data collected by BLM and others, the analysis will address the following key scientific challenges and questions: estimates of the WH&B populations, genetic diversity in WH&B herds, predator impact on WH&B population growth, as well as others
. (Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources)

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: A Symposium
An ad-hoc committee will plan and conduct a symposium and author a workshop report on the importance of biodiversity to human well being in the future. The two-day symposium will be held in early 2009, in conjunction with the Darwin bicentenary anniversary. The symposium will feature invited presentations and discussions that will focus on the intersection of biodiversity and ecosystem services through three issues: climate change and energy, trade and invasive species, and food security. (Board on International Scientific Organizations)

Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters
An ad hoc committee will conduct a study and prepare a report that integrates the natural, physical, technical, and social sciences knowledge bases to increase resilience to extreme events and hazards in the United States. Specifically, the committee will: Articulate a primary problem statement that frames issues related to national resilience to hazards and disasters in the United States; Draw from the body of scientific and technical knowledge on policies and practices to describe the state of knowledge about resilience to hazards in the United States; Outline additional information or knowledge that is needed to increase resilience to hazards in the United States; and Present conclusions about what is needed to increase national resilience to hazards and disasters in the United States.  (Division on Earth and Life Studies; Policy and Global Affairs)


Institutions and Indicators (back to top)
  
Ecological Risk Assessment Under FIFRA and ESA
A committee of the National Research Council (NRC) will examine scientific and technical issues related to the methods and assumptions used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct scientific assessments of ecological risks from pesticides registered by EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The range of scientific studies needed to make such assessments will be considered, including ecological, agricultural, hydrological, toxicological, and exposure studies.  The committee will develop conclusions reflecting the use of scientific principles and to facilitate a more holistic approach to assessing risks across the agencies, considering the intent of the ESA and of FIFRA. (Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology)


Human and Environmental Exposure Science in the 21st Century
An NRC committee will develop a long-range vision for exposure science and a strategy with goals and objectives for implementing the vision over the next twenty years. It will include development of a unifying conceptual framework for advancement of exposure science to study and assess human and ecological contact with chemical, biological, and physical stressors in their environments. In developing the vision and strategy, the committee will consider exposure assessment guidelines and practices used by EPA and other federal agencies, the use and development of advanced knowledge and analytic tools, and ways of incorporating more complete understanding of exposure into risk assessment, risk management, and other applications for human health and ecological services. (Board on Environmental Studies & Toxicology)

Improving Principles and Guidelines for Federal Water Resources Planning
This study will advise the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) on proposed revisions to the federal Principles and Guidelines (P&G). Originally, this project was part of response to a 2007 congressional mandate to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revise the federal Principles and Guidelines. The P&G document contains the basis for federal water resources project planning. The CEQ will provide the committee proposed revisions to a portion of the P&G.  (Water Science and Technology Board)

Offshore Oil and Gas Platform Inspection Program of the Minerals Management Service: A Review
This study will review the US Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) Inspection Program for offshore facilities to assess its effectiveness in protecting human safety and the environment. The study committee appointed to conduct the review will examine changes in the inspection program and process since the 1990 study by the Marine Board; review available trend data on inspections, safety, and environmental damage; examine analogous safety inspection programs in other regulatory agencies and other nations for lessons that could be applied to MMS inspections; and consider the effects of the current inspection program on offshore safety and environmental protection. (Transportation Research Board)

Responsible Science: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process
An ad hoc committee under the oversight of the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy will undertake a revision of the Responsible Science study first issued in 1992. Some topics to be considered by the committee include the following: examining the state of current knowledge about modern research practices for a range of disciplines, including trends and practices that could affect the integrity of research; determining the impacts on integrity of changing trends in the dynamics of the research enterprise, such as globalization, the treatment of intellectual property, handling of materials and specimens, university oversight and IRBs, and demands of government regulation; and whether the research community itself can define and strengthen basic standards for scientists and their institutions.  (Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy)

Review of the Draft 2013 National Climate Assessment (NCA) Report 
An ad hoc panel of the NRC Committee to Advise the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) will conduct an independent review and evaluation of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's draft 2013 NCA report in three phases: Phase I) discussion of the preliminary key messages of the draft 2013 NCA report; Phase II) review and evaluation of the initial draft 2013 NCA Report; and Phase III) discussion of the Revised Draft NCA Report. (Board on Atmospheric Sciences & Climate, Board on Environmental Change and Society

Spatial Data Enabling USGS Strategic Science in the 21st Century
This study will examine progress made in establishing spatial data infrastructures and the challenges faced by those infrastructures, within the context of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure. The study will examine the role that the USGS can play in continuing to ensure access to high quality geospatial data and support its use in scientific analyses and decision-making through a spatial data infrastructure (SDI) construct.   (Board on Earth Sciences & Resources)

Trends and Opportunities in Federal Earth Science Education and Workforce Training
This study by the National Research Council organized around a workshop will summarize the legislative authority for STEM education and training granted to federal agencies with substantial programs in earth science (excluding oceanic, atmospheric, and space science); examine recent earth science education programs with a research or training component, both formal and informal, in these federal agencies; identify criteria for evaluating the success of earth science education and training programs and, using these criteria and the results of previous federal program evaluations, identify examples of successful programs in federal agencies. It will also determine what made these example programs successful (e.g., resources, themes, engagement activities, partnerships); summarize the knowledge and skills identified in recent NRC workforce reports that are needed by earth scientists in their careers; and describe ways that federal agencies can leverage their earth education and training efforts to improve their recruitment of a diverse population in both high school and college. (Board on Earth Sciences & Resources, Board on Higher Education & Workforce)


Sustainability Research and Development 
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A Research Strategy for Environmental, Health, and Safety Aspects of Engineered Nanomaterials
The National Research Council will develop and will monitor the implementation of an integrated research strategy to address the environmental, health, and safety aspects of engineered nanomaterials. This study will create a conceptual framework for environmental, health, and safety-related research; develop a research plan with short- and long-term research priorities; estimate resources necessary to implement this research plan; and subsequently evaluate research progress over a three year period. (Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology; Board on Environmental Studies & Toxicology; National Materials Advisory Board)

Competing in the 21st Century: Best Practice in State & Regional Innovation Initiatives - Subcommittee on Electric Drive Battery Research and Development Activities
An ad hoc subcommittee will plan and conduct two public workshops (symposia), and summaries of the events will be prepared capturing the respective presentations and discussions. The symposia will feature invited presentations and discussions to review and analyze the potential contributions of public-private partnerships and identify other relevant issues for the Department of Energy, Office of Vehicle Technologies, Energy Storage Team's activities in the energy storage research and development area, and to draw lessons from these and other domestic and international experiences to help inform DoE as to whether its activities are complete and appropriately focused. Additional topics that emerge in the course of the research and discussions may also be addressed at the symposia as required.  (Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy)

Computing Research for Environmental and Societal Sustainability
Computing has many potential "green" applications including improving energy conservation, enhancing energy management, reducing carbon emissions in many sectors, improving environmental protection (including mitigation and adaptation to climate change), and increasing awareness of environmental challenges and responses. An ad hoc committee would plan and conduct a public workshop to survey sustainability challenges, current research initiatives, results from previously-held topical workshops, and related industry and government development efforts in these areas.  (Computer Science & Telecommuncations Board)

Evaluation of Energy-Efficiency and Sustainability Standards Used by the Department of Defense for Military Construction and Repair
At the request of the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment (ODUSD I&E), the National Research Council will convene an ad hoc committee to (1) evaluate the completeness, accuracy, and relevance of a literature review that synthesizes the state-of-the-knowledge about the costs and benefits, return on investment, and long-term payback of specified design standards related to sustainable buildings; (2) evaluate a consultant-generated methodology and analysis of the cost-benefit, return on investment, and long-term payback for specified building design standards and to apply the methodology using empirical data from DOD buildings; (3) identify potential factors and approaches that the DOD should consider in developing a comprehensive strategy for its entire portfolio of facilities that includes standards for energy-efficiency and sustainable design. (Board on Infrastructure & the Constructed Environment)

Grand Challenges for Engineering
In a fourteen-month project, the NAE will convene a select, international committee to evaluate ideas on the greatest challenges and opportunities for engineering. The committee will draw upon many sources of engineering expertise (including the NAE membership and foreign associates, the NAE's international Frontiers of Engineering program, and engineering societies worldwide) as well as ideas from the broader public.  (National Academy of Engineering)


New Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences at the National Science Foundation
An ad hoc committee will identify new research opportunities in Earth science as they relate to the responsibilities of the National Science Foundation's Division of Earth Science (EAR). The committee will identify high-priority new and emerging research opportunities in the Earth sciences over the next decade, including surface and deep Earth processes and interdisciplinary research with fields such as ocean and atmospheric sciences, biology, engineering, computer science, and social and behavioral sciences. (Board on Earth Sciences & Resources)


Transit Research and Development: Federal Role in the National Program
This project will provide an independent review and assessment of the needs of the public transportation industry that could be met through future investment in a national research and technology program. The committee will advise the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as the agency develops a strategic agenda for transit research and will dentify the roles that FTA and industry stakeholders could play in carrying out that agenda.  (Studies and Special Programs Division)


Sustainable Energy
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Assessment of Technologies for Improving Fuel Economy of Light-Duty Vehicles - Phase 2
The committee formed to carry out this study will continue the work of the National Research Council for the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the assessment of technologies and programs for improving the fuel economy of light-duty vehicles. While the committee will need to consider the development and deployment of fuel economy technologies up to 2019, it is tasked with providing updated estimates of the cost, potential efficiency improvements, and barriers to commercial deployment of technologies that might be employed from 2020 to 2030. It will reassess the technologies analyzed in NRC reports, Impact and Effectiveness of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards (2002) and Assessment Fuel Economy Technologies for Improving Light-Duty Vehicle Fuel Economy (2011). It will reflect developments since these reports were issued and investigate any new technologies that may become important by 2030. The committee will also examine and make recommendations for improvements to the CAFE program. (Board on Energy & Environmental Systems, Studies and Special Programs Division)

Alaska's Oil and Gas Pipeline Infrastructure: Risk Assessment Peer Review
This TRB/NRC committee will provide a peer review of a proposed design for a comprehensive risk assessment of Alaska's oil and gas infrastructure. The risk assessment will include: 1) a one-time engineering-oriented appraisal of the condition of the infrastructure; 2) an identification, quantification, and evaluation of current and future significant risks from a systems-level perspective; and 3) a methodology by which mitigation and management options can be evaluated.  (Transportation Research Board)

America's Energy Future
There is a growing sense of national urgency about the role of energy in long-term U.S. economic vitality, national security, and climate change. The U.S. has the resources to combat this energy challenge; the dilemma is to identify which solutions will be right for our country, and how to address the massive technological and social changes to come. To fill this information gap, the National Academies launched the America’s Energy Future study in 2007. This four-year project will explore energy technologies, providing authoritative estimates and analysis of the current and future supply of and demand for energy; new and existing technologies to meet those demands; their associated impacts; and their projected costs.  (Division on Earth and Life Studies; Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences; National Academy of Engineering; Transportation Research Board)

Assessment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicles
The committee will conduct an assessment of fuel economy technologies for medium and heavy-duty vehicles. According to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Section 108, the study is to develop a report evaluating medium-duty and heavy-duty truck fuel economy standards. Based on the language in Section 108, the NRC committee formed to carry out this study will address the following tasks, all of which will be discussed with the DOT/NHTSA representatives, as well as any relevant Congressional staff, at the committee's first meeting.   (Board on Energy & Environmental Systems; Transportation Research Board)

Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security of U.S. Nuclear Plants 
The National Research Council will provide an assessment of lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear accident for improving the safety and security of nuclear plants in the United States. This assessment will address the following issues: 1) causes of the Fukushima nuclear accident, particularly with respect to the performance of safety systems and operator response following the earthquake and tsunami; 2) re-evaluation of the conclusions from previous NAS studies on safety and security of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste storage, particularly with respect to the safety and security of current storage arrangements and alternative arrangements in which the amount of commercial spent fuel stored in pools is reduced; 3) lessons that can be learned from the accident to improve commercial nuclear plant safety and security systems and operations; and 4) lessons that can be learned from the accident to improve commercial nuclear plant safety and security regulations, including processes for identifying and applying design basis events for accidents and terrorist attacks to existing nuclear plants. The study may examine policy options related to these issues but should not make policy recommendations that involve non-technical value judgments (Board on Energy & Environmental Systems, Committee on International Security and Arms Control, Office of the Foreign Secretaries, Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board)


Offshore Wind Energy Turbine Structural and Operating Safety
This study will provide guidance to the Minerals Management Service (MMS) on the direction and intent of its proposed approach to overseeing the development and safe operation of offshore wind turbines. The focus of the study will be limited to the safety of structural and operational characteristics of offshore wind turbines, including turbine design, fabrication, installation, electrical transmission, decommissioning, and inspection and repair.  (Transportation Research Board)


Other Activities
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Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellowship Program
The Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program within the Policy and Global Affairs Division of the National Academies is designed to engage its Fellows in the analytical process that informs U.S. science and technology policy.  Fellows develop basic skills essential to working or participating in science policy at the federal, state, or local levels.  Graduate and professional school students and those who have completed graduate studies (degree awarded) within the last five years may apply.  Areas of study may include any social/behavioral science, medical/health discipline, physical or biological science, any field of engineering, law/business/public administration, or any relevant interdisciplinary fields.  (The Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program)

PNAS Sustainability Science, Special Features
PNAS has launched a new section of the journal dedicated to sustainability science, an emerging field of research dealing with the interactions between natural and social systems, and with how those interactions affect the challenge of sustainability: meeting the needs of present and future generations while substantially reducing poverty and conserving the planet's life support systems. PNAS seeks original research contributions for this new section on both the fundamental character of interactions among humans, their technologies, and the environment, and on the use of such knowledge to advance sustainability goals relevant to water, food, energy, health, habitation, mobility, and ecosystem services.