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US news roundup: 14-20 October


This week: a warning on R&D spending, the salary picture for chemists, and communication awards

In depth: A paper from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has explored challenges in preventing sexual harassment on United States campuses and found that more research is needed to find ways to systematically tackle the problem.

Full story: Academies paper aims to help stem harassment in academia

Also this week from Research Professional News

Report shares strategies to curb faculty burnout—American Council on Education report makes recommendations including limiting out-of-hours communication

Artistic differences—US arts and humanities researchers get warm words but little cold, hard cash

Here is the rest of the US news this week… 

NSF spending urged to realise chips potential

Research advocates have urged Congress to increase funding for the National Science Foundation, in particular its new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnership, to ensure that the United States reaps the full benefits of its recent Chips and Science Act. The act authorised a major increase in the NSF’s budget, but Congress has yet to appropriate the funds. Writing in The Hill, Dan Reed and Dario Gil, current board chair and member of the National Science Board respectively, urged Congress to take action. “An underfunded NSF holds the nation back,” they wrote. “When the US underinvests in discoveries, talent and translation, we erode America’s ability to invent the future and risk both our economic competitiveness and national security.”

Survey reports record-low unemployment for chemists

The latest edition of an annual survey by the American Chemical Society has revealed a record-low unemployment level of 0.6 per cent among US chemists. The survey, which garnered responses from 5,411 ACS members, found that median salaries have increased this year for chemists across government, academia and industry. Overall, the reported median salary for chemists in 2022 was $105,000, up from $98,000 in 2021. Adjusted for inflation, however, US chemists’ salaries have remained largely flat since the mid-1980s, according to the report. Men continue to earn more than their female or non-binary colleagues, and chemical engineers continue to earn significantly more than chemists. Respondents of South Asian descent reported higher salaries than other racial, ethnic or regional demographics.

Academies announce first recipients of communication awards

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine announced the first-ever winners of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communication. The awards, supported by Schmidt Futures, recognise science journalists and scientists who have published creative works that advance public understanding of research. The 24 recipients include 12 researchers and 12 journalists, with one top prize of $40,000 and three awards of $20,000. “The exemplary work that these award winners are doing to accurately and engagingly communicate about science to the public has never been more important,” said National Academy of Sciences president Marcia McNutt. “In an often complicated, murky and distorted information environment, these superb communicators are shining a light on critical truths, facts and evidence that people need to make informed decisions about their lives.”