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Science and Technology for Sustainability Program
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Upcoming Events

Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
January 30, Washington, DC

View a list of
Sustainability-related meetings at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Recent Events

The Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability (NELS)
October 26, Washington, DC


The Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability (NELS)

June 13, 2017, Washington, DC


Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability

June 12, 2017, Washington, DC


Sustainability at the National Academies

May 31, 2017, Washington, DC


Meeting 4: Housing, Health, and Homelessness: Evaluating the Evidence

January 26-27, 2017, Washington, DC


Ongoing Activities: Sustainability across the Academies

VIEW ONGOING ACTIVITIES 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  

The Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
Established in 2002, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability provides a high-level forum for sharing views, information, and analyses related to harnessing science and technology for sustainability. Members of the Roundtable include leading experts from research institutions as well as senior decision-makers from government and industry who deal with issues of sustainable development, and who are in a position to mobilize new strategies and resources for sustainability. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program). 

Housing, Health, and Homelessness: Evaluating the Evidence
A committee, under the auspices of the STS program and the Board on Population and Public Health Practice, will evaluate interventions and policy options for addressing urban homelessness, particularly permanent supportive housing programs.[1] Specifically, the study will address the fundamental question, to what extent have permanent supportive housing programs improved health outcomes and affected health care costs in people experiencing homelessness? To address this question, the committee will take into consideration any variation in outcomes for different subsets of homeless populations, including people experiencing chronic homelessness and people identified as high-utilizers of health care services, as well as the variation in outcomes related to different housing configurations and approaches to services delivery and financing associated with permanent supportive housing. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program).

Pathways to Urban Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities
An expert committee under the STS program completed a study by using examples from metropolitan regions to understand how sustainability practices can contribute to the continued growth and regeneration of major metropolitan regions in the United States. The study provides a paradigm that incorporates the social, economic, and environmental systems that exist in metropolitan regions that are critical in the transition to sustainable metropolitan regions. This paradigm could then serve as a blueprint for other regions with similar barriers to sustainable growth. As part of its evidence-gathering process, the committee organized a series of public data-gathering meetings in different metropolitan regions to examine issues relating to urban sustainability. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program).

Sustainability at the Academies - A Staff Seminar Series
The STS program launched a new periodic staff seminar series this summer to enhance collaborative opportunities within the Academies and encourage discussion and learning on issues related to sustainability science. At the first event in June 2016, the Executive Directors of the National Academies Division on Earth and Life Studies (DELS) and the Policy and Global Affairs (PGA) Division provided overviews of sustainability-related activities in their divisions. A second event was held in July 2016 with speakers from the Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences (DEPS) and National Academy of Engineering, and a third event took place on September 26, 2016 with speakers from the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) and the Transportation Research Board. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program).

The Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability (NELS)
The Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability (NELS) is an organization for early-career professionals who are interested in building bridges with peers in DC-area agencies and organizations. The Network includes leaders with diverse backgrounds and expertise, from natural resource management to energy policy to public health. NELS members share a common interest in taking a multidisciplinary approach to sustainability challenges -considering the economic, environmental, social, and cultural dimensions of these problems. Through NELS, these emerging leaders will foster relationships that enable them to more effectively bring about a sustainable future. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program).

Transition toward Sustainability after 15 Years: Where Do We Stand in Advancing the Scientific Foundation? A Workshop
An ad hoc committee under the STS program, in collaboration with the Board on Atmospheric Science and Climate (BASC), organized a meeting of leading scientists to discuss progress in sustainability science during the last 15 years, potential opportunities for advancing the research and use of scientific knowledge to support a transition toward sustainability, and challenges specifically related to establishing metrics/indicators and observations to support sustainability research and practice. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program).

Landscape Approaches and Multi-Resource Assessments for Natural Resource Management
An expert committee under the STS Program conducted a workshop on landscape approaches and multi-resource assessments to better inform federal decision making on the sustainable management of natural resources. These approaches focused on the inter-relationships among different natural resources at multiple scales within a framework that accommodates social, economic, and environmental linkages. The workshop identified knowledge gaps and priority areas for research, and will use case studies to illustrate how these approaches have been effectively integrated into practice. The workshop included key federal agencies, policymakers, and the broader scientific community in a discussion of how to incorporate these approaches more broadly into the sustainable management of natural resources. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program). 

Critical Role of Animal Science Research in Food Security and Sustainability
An expert committee under the STS Program, in collaboration with the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources (BANR), completed a report that identifies research priorities to sustainably meet expected increase in global demand for animal protein. The report assesses the global demand for products of animal origin in 2050 within the framework of ensuring global food security; evaluates how climate change and natural resource constraints may impact the ability to meet future global demand for animal products in sustainable production systems; and identifies factors that may impact the ability of the United States to meet demand for animal products, including the need for trained human capital, product safety and quality, and effective communication and adoption of new knowledge, information, and technologies. See the press release here(Science and Technology for Sustainability Program). 

Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connections and Governance Linkages

In June 2013, the STS Program released a landmark consensus report that provides a decision framework for policymakers to examine the consequences and operational benefits of sustainability-oriented programs. The report also recommends priority areas for interagency cooperation on specific sustainability challenges; identifies impediments to interdisciplinary, cross-media federal programs; and highlights scientific research gaps as they relate to these interdisciplinary, cross-media approaches to sustainability. A booklet provides a brief summary of the report. In January 2014, the STS Program hosted two sessions to discuss the report at the annual National Council for Science and the Environment Conference in Arlington, VA. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program). 

The Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability (NELS)
The Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability (NELS) is an organization for early-career professionals who are interested in building bridges with peers in DC-area agencies and organizations. The Network includes leaders with diverse backgrounds and expertise, from natural resource management to energy policy to public health. NELS members share a common interest in taking a multidisciplinary approach to sustainability challenges -considering the economic, environmental, social, and cultural dimensions of these problems. Through NELS, these emerging leaders will foster relationships that enable them to more effectively bring about a sustainable future. (Science and Technology for Sustainability Program). 


People and Their Communities
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Improving Quality of Health Care Globally
In light of the call in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will study particular prospects for improving health care quality globally while expanding access to preventive and therapeutic services, with a focus in low-resource areas. (Board on Global Health; Board on Health Care Services).

Assessing Toxicologic Risks to Human Subjects Used in Controlled Exposure Studies of Environmental Pollutants
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will address scientific issues and provide guidance on the conduct of controlled human-exposure studies designed to inform policy decisions and set air-pollutant standards to protect public health. The committee will consider U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of Inspector General report titled Improvements to EPA Policies and Guidance Could Enhance Protection of Human Study Subjects, which recommends improvements to EPA’s conduct of studies and outlines how the agency intends to address the recommendations. (Board on Environmental Studies & Toxicology).

Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions
Scientific discoveries, new tools, and improved approaches have rapidly expanded the field of environmental health—the study of environmental influences on human health and disease. Evaluating the utility and importance of findings derived from these new tools and new approaches in guiding public health decisions can be a daunting challenge. At the request of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine formed the Standing Committee on Use of Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions to facilitate communication among government, industry, environmental groups, and the academic community about scientific advances that may be used in the identification, quantification, and control of environmental impacts on human health. (Board on Life SciencesBoard on Environmental Studies and Toxicology).

Global Health and the Future of the United States
In the eight years since an expert committee deliberated to produce the report, The U.S. Commitment to Global Health, the factors that should shape the U.S. global health agenda have continued to evolve. Reflective of this and of the opportunity presented by a new Presidential administration, the National Academies will re-assess and update the public and private sector roles in contributing to and deriving benefit from improved global health in its broadest sense (i.e., health beyond healthcare). (Board on Global Health).

Measuring Community Resilience
The National Academies will conduct a study on effective ways to measure the resilience of a community to natural hazards and other disruptions. The committee will identify knowledge gaps, research directions, and approaches that could be useful to a range of communities, including the Gulf Research Program’s efforts to support the development of healthy and resilient coastal communities. (Office of Special Projects).

The Value of Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences to National Priorities
The National Academies will appoint an ad-hoc committee of approximately 8 members to focus on the following: Should the federal government fund research in the social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) sciences at the National Science Foundation. (Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education).

Urban Flooding in the United States
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will organize a series of regional workshops or case studies to explore the issue of urban flooding in 3 to 8 metropolitan areas in order to gain an initial understanding of its extent and causes in the chosen locations. (Office of Special Projects; Water Science and Technology Board). 


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 of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 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).

Evaluation of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will convene an ad hoc committee to examine the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC). This committee will evaluate the purpose, goals, and scientific merits of the program within the context of similar programs, and whether the LCC has resulted in measurable improvements in the health of fish, wildlife, and their habitats. (Board on Atmospheric Sciences & Climate; Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources).

Future Water Resource Needs for the Nation: Water Science and Research at the U.S. Geological Survey
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) plays an essential role in meeting the nation's water resource needs through its well-established observational network and renowned water science and research activities. The National Academies would provide guidance to the USGS Water Mission Area (WMA) as it works to address the most compelling national water resource and science needs during the next several decades. (Board on Earth Science & Resources; Water Science and Technology Board).

Genetically-Engineered Crops: Past Experience and Future Prospects
Building on and updating the concepts and questions raised in previous National Research Council reports addressing food safety, environmental, social, economic, regulatory, and other aspects of genetically-engineered (GE) crops, an ad hoc committee will conduct a broad review of available information on GE crops in the context of the contemporary global food and agricultural system. The study will examine the history of the development and introduction of GE crops in the United States and internationally, including GE crops that were not commercialized, and the experiences of developers and producers of GE crops in different countries. (Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources; Board on Life Sciences; Food and Nutrition Board). 

Improving Data Collection and Reporting about Agriculture with Increasingly Complex Farm Business Structures
The National Academies will review, assess, and make recommendations for U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service and the Economic Research Service on effective methods for collecting data and reporting information about American agriculture given the changes and increased complexity in farm business structure. The panel will take into consideration the effect any changes in concepts and data collection practices could have on the number of farms and the reliability of sector finance and performance indicators. (Committee on National Statistics). 

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).
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Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle, 8th edition
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will prepare a report that reviews the scientific literature on the nutrition of dairy cattle and updates the nutrient requirements contained in the 2001 NRC publication Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle.  The report will contain a comprehensive analysis of recent research on the feeding and nutrition ; of dairy cattle, including research on the amounts of amino acids, lipids, fiber, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and water needed by preweanling, growing, reproducing, and lactating dairy cattle. (Board on Atmospheric Sciences & Climate; Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources).

Review of the National Science Foundation's Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS) Draft Science Goals and Objectives
An ad hoc National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee will review the draft Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS) draft science goals and objectives in a two-part process (Phase 1 and 2). Phase 1 will consist of planning and hosting a public workshop to engage the atmospheric sciences community and others as appropriate to provide feedback on the draft. The workshop will be designed to seek specific input on the draft by asking invited workshop speakers and other participants to share their views in the context of the questions above. A recap of workshop will be produced by the Academies staff. In Phase 2, the committee will write a letter report reviewing the AGS draft goals and objectives by addressing the questions above from its own standpoint. (Board on Atmospheric Sciences & ClimateSpace Studies Board).

Review of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Operations Support Tool for Water Supply
The National Academies will review the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s Operations Support Tool (OST), which is a combined water quantity and quality model, to help predict future water level and quantity conditions in the City’s reservoir system. The committee will review the City’s use of OST for water supply operations, including managing elevated turbidity, and will consider potential ways in which the City can more effectively use OST. (Water Science and Technology Board).

Science Breakthroughs 2030: A Strategy for Food and Agricultural Research
The National Academies will conduct a study to lead the development of an innovative strategy for the future of food and agriculture research. The goal will be to develop a compelling scientific strategy for food and agricultural research for the next decade and beyond that would stimulate transformational change in the food and agricultural system by catalyzing new research directions and partnerships, attracting new research talent, stimulating entrepreneurial activities, increasing funding opportunities, and ultimately opening new paths to a safe, healthful, and sustainable supply of food and fiber. (Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources; Board on Atmospheric Sciences & Climate; Board on Environmental Change and Society; Food and Nutrition Board; Water Science and Technology Board; Board on Life Sciences).


Economy and Industry 
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Anthropogenic Methane Emissions in the United States: Improving Measurement, Monitoring, Reporting, and Development of Inventories
The National Academies will examine approaches to measuring, monitoring, reporting, and developing inventories of anthropogenic emissions of methane to the atmosphere. The geographic scope of this study is limited to the U.S., although much of the committee’s report could be relevant internationally. (Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources; Board on Atmospheric Sciences & Climate; Board on Energy & Environmental Systems DPES; Board on Earth Sciences & Resources; Board on Environmental Studies & Technology). 

A Review of the Citrus Greening Research and Development Efforts Supported by the Citrus Research and Development Foundation: Fighting a Ravaging Disease
The National Academies will conduct an assessment of citrus greening research efforts supported by the Citrus Research and Development Foundation from 2010-2016 to identify ways to retool citrus greening research to accelerate the development of durable tools and strategies that could help abate the damage caused by citrus greening and prevent the total collapse of the citrus industry. (Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources).

Evaluation of the Use of Chemical Dispersants in Oil Spill Response
The National Academies will assess the effects and efficacy of dispersants as an oil spill response tool through review and evaluation of domestic and international research reports and results, including both laboratory and field studies. The study will evaluate trade-offs associated with dispersant use, in part through use or review of net environmental benefit analyses, conducted for past oil spills. The evaluation will include comparison of chemically dispersed oil with the fate and effects of untreated oil. (Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology; Board on Environmental Studies & Toxicology; Ocean Studies Board).

Frontiers of Materials Research: A Decadal Survey
The National Academies shall prepare a report that will articulate the status and promising future directions of materials research (MR) in the United States in the context of similar efforts world-wide. (Board on Physics & Astronomy).

Long-term Coastal Zone Dynamics: Interactions and Feedbacks between Natural and Human Processes and their implication for the U.S. Coastline

The National Academies will conduct a study to determine research needed to improve understanding of the interactions and feedbacks between long-term (decadal to millennial scale) natural coastal dynamics and energy-related infrastructure development along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coastline. The work will be informed by case studies from the other U.S. regions, including the mid-Atlantic, California, and/or Alaska. (Board on Environmental Change and Society; Board on Earth Sciences & Resources; Ocean Studies Board; Transportation Research Board).

Making Value for America: Foundational Study
In the 21st century, "making things" (i.e., the production of physical goods) cannot be considered in isolation from innovation, product design, and the production and bundling of software and services--all are integrated global activities. To succeed in the current complex environment, companies must focus holistically on "making value" by producing positive customer experiences. The purpose of this project is to clearly define this new context by examining business best practices in the integrated innovation-design-manufacturing value chain. (National Academy of Engineering).

Occupational Exposure to Respirable Coal-Mine Dust
The National Academies will assess monitoring and sampling approaches for informing underground coal mine operators’ decision-making regarding the control of respirable coal mine dust and mine worker exposure. The committee will identify important research gaps regarding monitoring and sampling protocols for controlling miners’ exposure to coal mine dust. (Board on Earth Sciences & Resources; Board on Environmental Studies & Toxicology; Board on Health Sciences Policy). 

Offshore Oil and Gas Industry Safety Culture: A Framing Study
An ad hoc committee will conduct a study in order to frame the issues and knowledge gaps that would need to be addressed in subsequent industry and government efforts, research, and future studies to strengthen offshore industry safety culture.  In addressing its task, the committee will gather information from safety culture experts, industry, regulators, workers, and the public in order to identify the essential characteristics of a strong safety culture; barriers to achieving a strong safety culture in the offshore industry; and possible ways of overcoming these challenges.  The committee will also identify potential effective strategies to measure and assess company and industry safety culture. (Board on Human-System Integration; Studies and Special Programs Division).

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).

Potential Human Health Effects of Surface Coal Mining Operations in Central Appalachia
The National Academies will conduct a study to examine the potential relationship between increased health risks and living in proximity to sites that have been or are being mined or reclaimed for surface coal deposits. The study will focus on four states in Central Appalachia. (Board on Earth Sciences & Resources; Board on Environmental Studies & Toxicology; Board on Health Sciences Policy). 

Review of USDOT Report on Connected Vehicle Initiative Communications Systems Deployment
As required in Section 53006 of P.L. 112-141 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, July 6, 2012), a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee shall conduct a peer review of a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications system deployment. The study committee will assess whether the USDOT report addresses the charge set forth by Congress in Section 53006. (Transportation Research Board).

Sources of Lead Contamination at or near Superfund Sites
The National Academies will examine the extent to which various sources contribute to environmental lead concentrations in areas at or near Superfund sites that are situated within or adjacent to lead-mining areas. The committee will consider whether sources, such as naturally occurring lead, lead-based paint, and the consumer use of products that contain lead, are significant contributors to environmental contamination problems identified through the Superfund site assessment process. (Board on Environmental Studies & Toxicology). 

Study on Propane Gas Pipeline Facilities
The National Academies will examine the safety of pipeline facilities that transport or store only petroleum gas, or mixtures of petroleum gas and air, for service to 100 or fewer customers. An expert committee will examine (a) federal, state and local regulatory requirements applicable to these pipeline facilities; (b) techniques and best practices relating their safe design, installation, operation and maintenance; and (c) the costs and benefits, including safety benefits, associated with the regulatory requirements and use of the techniques and best practices. (Transportation Research Board).


Natural Systems
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Assessment of the Cumulative Effects of Anthropogenic Stressors on Marine Mammals
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will conduct a workshop and review the present scientific understanding of cumulative effects of anthropogenic stressors on marine mammals with a focus on anthropogenic sound. The committee will assess current methodologies used for evaluating cumulative effects and identify new approaches that could improve these assessments. (Ocean Studies Board).

Development of a Strategic Vision and Implementation Plan for the U.S. Antarctic Program at the National Science Foundation

An ad hoc committee will identify priorities and strategic steps forward for Antarctic research and observations for the next decade, in the context of the current state of knowledge, ongoing research activities, and resource availability. The committee's report will present a compelling research strategy for increased understanding of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. The report will analyze the research infrastructure needed to address the priority research topics as well as the current research portfolio of U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) investments. The final report will articulate a strategic vision commensurate with U.S. national interests in Antarctica and identify a prioritized suite of science questions or topical areas that the USAP should consider. (Polar Research Board).

Effective Approaches for Monitoring and Assessing Gulf of Mexico Restoration Activities
An ad hoc committee under the auspices of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will inform monitoring and evaluation of restoration activities in the Gulf of Mexico. In particular, the committee will identify best practices (i.e., existing, proven, cost-effective approaches) for monitoring and evaluating restoration activities to improve the performance of restoration programs and increase the effectiveness and longevity of restoration projects. (Ocean Studies Board; Water Science and Technology Board).

Gulf Research Program
Over its 30-year duration, the Gulf Research Program will work to enhance oil system safety and the protection of human health and the environment in the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. outer continental shelf areas by seeking to improve understanding of the region’s interconnecting human, environmental, and energy systems and fostering application of these insights to benefit Gulf communities, ecosystems, and the Nation.

Polar Icebreaker Cost Assessment
The National Academies shall describe current and emerging requirements for the Coast Guard's polar icebreaking capabilities, taking into account the rapidly changing ice cover in the Arctic environment, national security considerations, and expanding commercial activities in the Arctic and Antarctic, including marine transportation, energy development, fishing, and tourism. (Board on Atmospheric Sciences & Climate; Ocean Studies Board; Studies and Special Programs Division). 

Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program
An ad hoc committee will conduct a study and issue three reports that review the many different scientific initiatives underway to support the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan (EAHCP). The committee will focus on the adequacy of the body of scientific information to reliably inform assessments of the EAHCP biological goals and objectives; ensuring that best-available science is utilized. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine review will be conducted from 2013-2018. The committee issued its first report in 2014, its second report in 2016, and will issue its third and final report in 2018. (Water Science and Technology Board).

Review of the Second State of Carbon Cycle Special Report
The National Academies will conduct an independent review of the Second State of the Carbon Cycle (SOCCR-2) report, which will be available in early to mid-2017. The committee will conduct this review concurrent with the public review period for the SOCCR-2 Report and produce a report. The focus of SOCCR-2 is on the scientific understanding of U.S. and North American carbon cycle stocks and fluxes, in the context of and interactions with global scale budgets and climate change impacts in managed and unmanaged systems. Carbon stocks and fluxes in soils, water, vegetation, aquatic-terrestrial interfaces, human settlements, agriculture, forestry etc. are included. (Board on Atmospheric Sciences & Climate).

Revisiting Brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area
In this update of Brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area (NRC, 1998) the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will comprehensively review and evaluate the available scientific literature and other information on the prevalence and spread of Brucella abortus in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) in wild and domestic animals and examine the feasibility, time-frame, and cost-effectiveness of options to contain or suppress brucellosis across the region. (Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources).


Institutions and Indicators (back to top)

Assessing Toxicologic Risks to Human Subjects Used in Controlled Exposure Studies of Environmental Pollutants
An ad hoc committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will address scientific issues and provide guidance on the conduct of controlled human-exposure studies designed to inform policy decisions and set air-pollutant standards to protect public health. The committee will consider U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of Inspector General report titled Improvements to EPA Policies and Guidance Could Enhance Protection of Human Study Subjects, which recommends improvements to EPA’s conduct of studies and outlines how the agency intends to address the recommendations. (Board on Environmental Studies & Toxicology).

Developing a Research Agenda for Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration
The National Academies will conduct a study to identify the most urgent unanswered scientific and technical questions needed to a) assess the benefits, risks, and sustainable scale potential for carbon dioxide removal and sequestration approaches; and b) increase the commercial viability of carbon dioxide removal and sequestration. A committee will assess the costs and benefits of such a research and development program to the extent possible in the timeframe of the study. (Board on Atmospheric Sciences & Climate; Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources; Board on Earth Sciences & Resources; Ocean Studies Board; Board on Energy & Environmental Systems DEPS; Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology).

Evaluation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E)
An ad hoc committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will review and evaluate the progress that the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has made toward achieving its goals since its establishment in 2009. The committee will develop a methodology and framework for an operational assessment as well as a retrospective and technical assessment of ARPA-E and then conduct both. The operational assessment will appraise the appropriateness and effectiveness of ARPA-E's structure to position it to achieve its mission and goals. (Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy; DEPS Board on Energy & Environmental Systems).

Methods for Integrating Multiple Data Sources to Improve Crop Estimates
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will review, assess, and make recommendations on methods for integrating multiple data sources to improve county-level crop estimates produced by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The goal is to provide more precise estimates with appropriate measures of uncertainty for current county-level estimates of acreage, yield, and cash rents for major crops. Multiple sources of data are potentially available for county-level crop estimates, including NASS surveys, data from other agencies, and automated field-level information collected by farm equipment dealers. (Committee on National Statistics).

Models of the World for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
An ad hoc committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will identify types of mathematical, numerical, and statistical models and spatial-temporal analytical methods (e.g., coupled models, inverse models, agent-based models, machine learning, statistical inference) used to understand complex adaptive systems, such as those found in the natural or built environment, and in health, political, social, or economic systems. (Board on Atmospheric Sciences & Climate; Board on Earth Sciences & Resources; DEPS Board on Mathematical Sciences & Their Applications).


Sustainability Research and Development 
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Advancing Understanding of Gulf of Mexico Loop Current Dynamics
The National Academies will develop recommendations to design a suite of activities - including research, observations, and analyses - needed to characterize Loop Current dynamics and improve the effectiveness of modeling efforts. (Gulf Research Program of the NAS-NAE-IOM-NRC, Executive Office; Ocean Studies Board).

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). 

Grand Challenges in Environmental Engineering and Science for the 21st Century
To help guide the next generation of environmental engineers and scientists, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has appointed a committee of experts to conduct a study on Grand Challenges and Opportunities in Environmental Engineering and Science for the 21st Century. The committee invites the scientific community and the public to submit ideas about ambitious but achievable goals that harness science, technology, and innovation from environmental engineering and science to solve important national or global problems. Submit your ideas here

Incorporating 21st Century Science into Risk-Based Evaluations
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will provide recommendations on integrating new scientific approaches into risk-based evaluations. Specifically, a committee will first consider the scientific advances that have occurred following the publication of the NRC reports
Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy and Exposure Science in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy. Given the various ongoing lines of investigation and new data streams that have emerged, the committee will then propose how best to integrate and use the emerging results in evaluating chemical risk and identify how traditional human-health risk assessment can incorporate the new science. (Board on Life Sciences; Board on Environmental Studies & Toxicology).

Review of the Climate Science Special Report
The National Academies will conduct an independent review of the Special Report on Climate Change Science, which will be available in late 2016 to early 2017. The committee will conduct this review concurrent with the public review period for the Special Report and produce a report. The review can be viewed here. (Board on Atmospheric Sciences & Climate). 


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 Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 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).

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 of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 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).

Connector Reliability for Offshore Oil and Natural Gas Operations
The National Academies will conduct a public workshop and follow-on consensus study to address reliability issues associated with the connectors and other fastener systems used in critical safety components and equipment for offshore oil and natural gas operations (“Connectors”). (National Materials and Manufacturing Board). 

Determinants of Market Adoption of Advanced Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Technologies
An ad hoc committee of experts with industrial, financial, academic, and public policy backgrounds will hold a series of workshops, commission research, and prepare a report with recommendations. The study will focus on whether the federal government should and can play a role in accelerating market adoption of advanced energy efficiency and clean energy technologies. The committee will analyze market imperfections in different stages of the deployment chain for different technologies and seek to identify the appropriate extent of federal involvement and what policy instruments can help overcome the market imperfections and catalyze private investment. (Board on Energy & Environmental Systems; Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy).

Energy Resource Potential on DOE Lands
A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine-appointed committee will review a study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Legacy Management of the potential development of energy resources on lands managed by DOE. This study may include assessments of oil, gas, coal, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, uranium, and other resources, and is likely to include consideration of market barriers, practical constraints, economics, and access to markets in estimating the potential for energy supply. (Board on Energy & Environmental Systems).

Future Directions for the U.S. Geological Survey's Energy Resources Program
The National Academies will conduct a study to consider the overall mission and direction for the research and assessments conducted by the USGS Energy Resource Program (ERP) as the program works to best support meeting the nation's future energy needs. (Board on Earth Sciences & Resources).

Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security of U.S. Nuclear Plants 
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 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).

Real-Time Monitoring of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will conduct a study to advise the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), U.S. Department of the Interior, on the use of real-time monitoring systems (RTM) by industry and government to reduce the safety and environmental risks of offshore oil and gas operations. The final report shall address the critical operations and specific parameters that should be monitored to manage and mitigate environmental and safety risks (e.g., to reduce the risk of well kicks, blowouts, and other sources of casualties). (Studies and Special Programs Division).

Review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership, Phase 3  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will conduct a third review of the 21st Century Truck Partnership. During this Phase 3 review, a committee of experts will review the high-level technical goals, targets, and timetables for research and development (R&D) efforts, which address such areas as heavy vehicle systems; hybrid electric propulsion; advanced internal combustion engines (ICEs); and materials technologies. The committee will also review and evaluate progress and program directions since the inception of the Partnership towards meeting the Partnership's technical goals, and examine on-going research activities and their relevance to meeting the goals of the Partnership. (Board on Energy & Environmental Systems).



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 of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 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.