April and May in Washington bring several things–cherry blossoms, intensified talk of budgets, tourists on the National Mall, and an endless stream of Congressional briefings and presentations.
In this time of shrinking budgets for research funding, researchers and funding agencies and the organizations that represent them are headed to Capitol Hill. All of these briefings and presentations occur in the context of renewed efforts by some in Congress to restrict, limit, or eliminate outright funding for research by the federal government. In particular, Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has questioned the value of NSF’s peer review process, proposing new criteria for the awarding of NSF research funding.
Joining these Capitol Hill briefings and presentations are scholars from NCA, demonstrating the importance and value of communication research and disseminating that scholarship to larger and broader audiences.
On April 25, 2013, the Coalition for National Science Funding, working with the House Research & Development Caucus, sponsored a Capitol Hill briefing on “Social Science Research on Disasters.” The event specifically focused on communication, resilience, and consequences of disaster preparedness and the research that studies disaster related issues. One of the three featured researchers at this briefing was H. Dan O’Hair, Dean of the College of Communication at the University of Kentucky and NCA’s 92nd president, who discussed “Message Strategy Research and Extreme Events.” O’Hair discussed the findings of his NSF supported research project that addressed the question “How do extreme events, media, and message strategies interact to affect human decision making?,” considering specifically the role of messages and media in the context of hurricane forecasting and warning systems. O’Hair’s presentation slides are posted and available here.
On May 7, 2013, the Coalition for National Science Funding hosted a Capitol Hill Exhibition for scores of researchers to display the results of their NSF funded research projects. NCA member Brian Spitzberg from San Diego State University journeyed to Washington to present a poster of his research project examining the question “Can cyberspace map onto human activities occurring in (geographic) real space?” (see below-click on the image to enlarge). Spitzberg discussed his research with congressional staffers, researchers from across the nation, as well as Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL, 11), Cora Marrett, the acting director of NSF (with Spitzberg, right), and Philip Rubin from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy.