January 2010 Issue • Volume 38 • Issue 1

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Science Policy

NIH basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Research
(b-BSSR) to expand

In November 2009, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins announced the launch of the Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet), a trans-NIH initiative to expand the agency's funding of basic behavioral and social sciences research (b-BSSR). Basic BSSR furthers our understanding of fundamental mechanisms and patterns of behavioral and social as they interact with each other, with biology, and the environment, and such research leads to new approaches for reducing risky behaviors and improving health. ASA has actively supported the establishment of OppNet since its initial conceptualization a few years ago and alerts relevant ASA Sections to OppNet funding announcements. All NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) share the mission of supporting b-BSSR. OppNet will develop a plan for focused multi-year programs across ICs to advance priority topics within b-BSSR. Ten million dollars in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds will support the first year of OppNet, which will focus on short-term activities to develop existing programs' capacities for b-BSSR, and by 2011 OppNet will be supported through NIH's pool of common funds shared among the ICs. For more information, visit oppnet.nih.gov.

The U.S. Census kicks off 2010 campaign

On January 4, the Census Bureau kicked off its $300-million campaign to prod, coax, and cajole the nation's more than 300 million residents to complete their once-a-decade census forms. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Census Bureau Director and sociologist Robert Groves launched the 2010 Census Road Tour with an appearance on MSNBC's Today show. The 2010.census.gov website is the Census Bureau's online destination for information about the 2010 Census. There one can find key dates, the Census Road Tour, rich multimedia, and the latest in social media like the Director's Blog and connections to 224 social media sites.

And speaking of the U.S. Census...

Young children are surprisingly the age group that is most often missed in the census, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation report, Why Are Young Children Missed So Often in the Census?, by William O. Hare. Data from the Census Bureau's Demographic Analysis indicate that there was a net undercount of four percent for children under age 5 in the 2000 Census, which amounts to about 750,000 young children. Potential explanations vary from their living in hard-to-count neighborhoods to the fact that the census form only has space for complete demographic information on six household members. Other key findings include: Minority children are missed most often; children are over-represented in hard-to-count neighborhoods; and the undercount of children results in reduced funding for needy families. Trends suggest that getting an accurate count of young children will be more difficult in 2010 than it was in 2000. For more information, visit www.aecf.org

Criminologist is sworn in as U.S. Assistant Attorney General

Laurie O. Robinson was sworn in as Assistant Attorney General on November 9, 2009. Robinson served as Acting Assistant Attorney General and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) from January 2009 until nominated by President Obama in September 2009. Robinson previously served as Assistant Attorney General at the OJP from 1993 to 2000. During that time, she oversaw the largest increase in federal spending on criminal justice research in the nation's history, and under her leadership the annual appropriations for OJP grew. At the same time, she spearheaded initiatives in areas ranging from comprehensive community-based crime control to violence against women, law enforcement technology, drug abuse and corrections. From 2004 until January 2009, Robinson served as director of the Master of Science Program in the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Criminology. logo_small

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