Report urges cultivation of US agricultural science

Public funding should support more research on fruits and vegetables, which often receive less attention than staple grains, the report says.

Agricultural research in the US will require fresh investments and re-distribution of existing resources to address emerging challenges to the nation’s food supply, according to a report released on 7 December by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).  Read more

Visa increase for foreign scientists wins tenuous victory in US House

Just two months after rejecting a nearly identical immigration measure, members of the US House of Representatives passed a bill on 30 November to grant permanent residency for up to 55,000 foreign researchers with US degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  Read more

Lamar Smith wins nomination for top House science position

Lamar Smith wins nomination for top House science position

US Republican leaders announced on 27 November their recommendation of Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, as the new chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Smith’s nomination is expected to be ratified by the House Republican Conference on 28 November.  Read more

Fiscal cliff overshadows US Antarctic science

McMurdo Station, the main US station in Antarctica

As national science agencies brace for sweeping budget cuts in 2013, some experts warn that US research efforts in Antarctica are poised to suffer devastating damage. The 8% across-the-board reductions, set to take effect in January, would likely draw heavily from scientific research while sparing infrastructure and logistical operations that support experiments in the unforgiving polar environment.  Read more

Historic Gulf oil spill settlement to bolster US research

Deepwater Horizon disaster

Research and recovery efforts linked to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill received a welcome boost on 15 November as part of a landmark settlement by the oil-and-gas giant BP plc.  Read more

Seismic study loses air over wildlife concerns

Bruce Gibson testifies against PG&E's proposed seismic survey.

A California regulatory board has  denied a key permit on 14 November for a proposed study of undersea faults near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County. The plant’s owners, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), had designed the project to aid the state in re-evaluating earthquake risks to California’s two nuclear facilities following the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in March 2011.  Read more

Marijuana measures among those voted on in US election

Two states win joint victory.

While the contest between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney was clearly the main event in US general elections on 6 November, when the dust finally settled voters across the country had also weighed in on dozens of ballot measures. Here is a rundown of some of the votes with relevance for science, health and environment policy.  Read more

To sleep, perchance to forget fears

A Eunuch's Dream by Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouÿ, via Wikimedia Commons

Traumatic memories can be manipulated in sleeping mice to reduce their fearful responses during waking hours.  The finding, announced by  Stanford University researchers at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, suggests that sleep-based therapies could provide new options for treating conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Read more