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US news roundup: 8-14 January


This week: ‘secret science’, diversity in STEM, particle accelerators and more

In depth: Academic and science advocacy groups have backed a move by Democratic politicians to remove US president Donald Trump from office ahead of the end of his term, following his part in the events that led to the US Capitol being stormed by a mob earlier this month—an incident in which several people died.

Full storyResearchers back Trump’s removal over storming of Capitol 

Also this week from Research Professional News

Covid-19 costing US research billions of dollars, study estimates—Call for swift action from lawmakers to prevent ‘irreparable’ damage as NIH rations financial support


Here is the rest of the US news this week…

Biden urged to reverse ‘secret science’ rule

President-elect Joe Biden has been urged, on the first day of his presidency, to overturn a controversial rule recently finalised by the Environmental Protection Agency. The so-called ‘secret science’ rule, which restricts the studies that can be used to shape environmental regulations to those with publicly available data, has been opposed by the scientific community. Writing to Biden, the chair of the House science committee Eddie Bernice Johnson said the rule “will undermine your environmental agenda for as long as it is allowed to remain in place”.

Bill to increase diversity in STEM

Legislation designed to increase diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies and research careers has been introduced by members of both parties on the House science committee. Among other measures, the bill would require better data collection on researchers winning grants from federal research agencies, and would require the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to provide guidance for research institutions on identifying barriers to women, minorities and other underrepresented groups.

Darpa seeks portable particle accelerator

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a military innovation body, has announced a programme to develop a portable electron accelerator “for tactical applications”. The agency wants proposals for a linear accelerator “that could be transported by truck”, said programme lead Dan Javorsek. Darpa said such a machine could offer many non-offensive battlefield applications, like scanning shipping containers, blowing up bombs and specialist treatment in field hospitals.

Nasa renews cooperation with science, aviation agencies

Nasa has signed fresh memoranda of understanding with the National Science Foundation and the Federal Aviation Administration—the US agencies for basic research and civilian flight. All parts of Nasa’s mission, ranging from extra-terrestrial data collection to high-end engineering, touch on the work of the NSF, said Nasa head Jim Bridenstine. The FAA deal means private companies can continue to ferry crew and cargo into orbit, with Nasa informing a suitable regulatory framework for such work.