Public Policy Briefs


Capitol Hill Exhibit Highlights NSF Research

The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) held an exhibition and reception on Capitol Hill, March 21, to draw attention to research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). As a member of CNSF, APA helped to organize the event and also had its own exhibit at the reception. In addition to psychology, the exhibition featured NSF-supported research in chemistry, anthropology, engineering, education, and supercomputing.

Joseph Hellige, PhD, Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, represented the behavioral research supported through NSF's Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate. APA's exhibit showcased Dr. Hellige's research on hemispheric asymmetry and differences in the left and right sides of the brain. This included a demonstration on dichotomous hearing, in which people wearing headphones were asked to recall what they thought they heard in their left and right ears.

Dr. Hellige spent the day visiting the offices of his representatives, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Julian Dixon (D-CA), and he also spoke with staff in Rep. Jerry Lewis's office (Chair of the House VA-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, which covers NSF). Dr. Hellige advocated on behalf of congressional support for NSF and the NSF initiative on Research on Learning, also known as the intelligent systems initiative.

The CNSF-sponsored event was designed to educate members of Congress and their staffs about NSF and the research it supports. Staff from NSF■s authorizing and appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate attended the event, as well as staff from the personal offices of members.

Greenwood Leaves OSTP

M.R.C. Greenwood, PhD, Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced that she was leaving OSTP effective May 1. Although she indicated it was a difficult decision to make, Dr. Greenwood needed to attend to urgent personal matters. Those who work with Dr. Greenwood, including APA's OSTP Fellow, Karen Kovacs, PhD, will miss her leadership.

After being named the Associate Director for Science, Dr. Greenwood created the position of Assistant Director for Social and Behavioral Science. Joyce Justus, PhD, an anthropologist from the University of California, has served in this important role since the fall of 1994. Dr. Greenwood has been a strong supporter of the behavioral and social sciences, ensuring that their concerns and issues were represented in the federal policy process.

APA Testifies on OTA

Robert J. Resnick, PhD, APA President, testified before the House Legislative Appropriations Subcommittee on February 23 in support of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). Earlier this year, the Senate Republican Conference proposed eliminating OTA as part of an effort to cut government spending and trim the deficit.

OTA, created in 1972, provides unbiased assessments of emerging technologies and the technical expertise to evaluate complex legislation on science and technology issues. It has enjoyed bipartisan support over the years, but unfortunately, its supporters in Congress are few, because most members are not familiar with OTA reports, which are produced at the request of committee chairs.

Although OTA's work is well-known in the research and engineering communities, it is not a highly visible agency and had few champions during the hearings held in February. Subsequent reports from the subcommittees in the House and Senate indicate that OTA may very well be eliminated through the appropriations process--Congress will simply not fund it in FY 1996.

Psychologist Named Presidential Faculty Fellow

Curt Burgess, PhD, of the University of California, Riverside, one of the 1994 Presidential Faculty Fellows (PFF), was in Washington in late February for a series of meetings and ceremonies to honor the Fellows. The PFF awards are given by the President through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and carry a $500,000 NSF grant. Dr. Burgess, an APA Member, was one of only 30 engineers and scientists honored with the award--and the only psychologist.

The PFF awards are designed to allow Fellows to "undertake self-designed, innovative research and teaching projects, to establish research and teaching programs, and to pursue other academic-related activities." Dr. Burgess, who was cited for his work in cognitive psychology, has indicated an interest in several education projects he would like to pursue with his award money.

Judy Auerbach Joins OAR as Chief Behavioral Scientist

Behavioral scientists involved in AIDS research now have an ally in the Office of AIDS Research (OAR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In mid-February, Judy Auerbach, PhD, became Chair of the Social and Behavioral Research Coordinating Committee at OAR, ending a lengthy search conducted by NIH. Dr. Auerbach oversees activities related to the development of scientific and budgetary priorities for AIDS research in the social and behavioral sciences across NIH.

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Auerbach was a Senior Program Director for the Institute of Medicine■s Committee on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in AIDS Research. She co-edited that committee's 1994 report, AIDS and Behavior: An Integrated Approach (National Academy Press). Previously, Dr. Auerbach was Associate Director for Government Affairs at the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA). At COSSA, she was involved in educational and advocacy activities directed at the inclusion of social science perspectives in the health research enterprise of the federal government. Dr. Auerbach was instrumental in efforts to end prohibitions on sexual behavior studies, to focus on social and behavioral research on AIDS, and to enhance attention to women's health issues.

Dr. Auerbach began her policy work in Washington in 1988 as a Congressional Science Fellow, sponsored by the Society for Research in Child Development. She worked on child, family, and health policy issues in the office of Rep. Pat Schroeder (D-CO). Dr. Auerbach received her PhD in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1986.


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