Jan-Feb 2014 ASCB Newsletter - page 48-49

ASCB Speaks Up for U.S.
Government Researchers
The ASCB is working to thwart efforts to limit
travel to scientific meetings by federal scientists.
In the closing hours of the 2013 session of
Congress, the congressional to-do list remained
as long as your arm. The budget for the federal
government was still in flux, the House of
Representatives had yet to vote on changes to
U.S. immigration policy, and the Senate still had
not acted on a long list of President Obama’s
nominees to the federal judiciary.
Instead of addressing many of these hot-
button issues, the House of Representatives
passed the Digital Accountability and
Transparency Act of 2013 and sent it to the
Senate for its action. Included in the 32-page
bill designed to increase accountability and
transparency in federal spending was a small
provision that, if passed by both houses of
Congress and signed into law by the president,
would carve into legal stone significant
restrictions on the participation of federal
scientists in scientific meetings.
In response, ASCB’s Executive Director
Stefano Bertuzzi sent letters to Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sens. Thomas
Carper (D-DE), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and
Tom Harkin (D-IA). In his letter, Bertuzzi
said, “If this language were to become law, the
ability of federal scientists to attend important
scientific meetings connected to their area
In FY14 Federal Budget Congress
Does All It Can for the NIH
The U.S. Congress has reached agreement on a
federal budget for FY14. The budget includes
$1 billion (3.5%) more than in FY13 for the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a $288
million (4.2%) increase for the National Science
Foundation. The Congressional Budget Office,
the keeper of the keys to sequestration, has
determined that the FY14 budget also removes
the need for another round of sequestration this
The increase slotted for the NIH does not
completely restore the $1.5 billion lost last
year to sequestration or the $200 million lost
last year in transfers to other programs, but
it is a big step forward. The budget blueprint
hammered out in late December provided
appropriators with only $22 billion more for
domestic programs this year than would have
been allocated if sequestration were triggered
again. While appropriators had only a small
amount of additional funding to work with, the
budget deal allowed them to pick and choose
where it would be spent. That is unlike the
scenario under sequestration, which would have
required across-the-board cuts had a deal not
been reached.
A review of the increases for federal science
programs highlights that the NIH alone received
about one-third of the additional spending for
federal science programs included in the FY14
final budget. The size of the increase for the
NIH is a clear indication that the members of
appropriations committees in both the House
and Senate are trying to do all they can for the
The House Committee on Appropriations’
press release announcing the FY14 budget
includes a picture of Senate Appropriations
Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-
MD) shaking hands with House Appropriations
Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY).
That photo didn’t take place by accident. It was
meant to send a message that the two leaders are
working together for the good of the country.
If “regular order” can be restored to the work of
Congress, it should be possible to restore the rest
of the damage sequestration has done and then
move on.
—Kevin M. Wilson
candidates. The cover letter is your opportunity
to present in clear and concise terms your
interest in a given position. As with other job
application documents, the format
of a cover letter will vary based on
institution type: An application
to a research university demands a
cover letter that summarizes your
proposed line of research before
mentioning teaching activity of
any sort, while cover letters to
teaching-oriented schools will
reverse the order of these sections.
In all cases, though, it is
important to be concise in your
cover letter. Within the first
two lines, it should be clear to
the reader what your primary
interests and broad career goals
are and how the particular job for
which you are applying will help
you meet those goals. If you are
applying to a teaching-oriented
institution, the bulk of the cover
letter should emphasize your
previous teaching experiences and
how you will bring your particular
teaching philosophy to the institution, including
an emphasis on how your research can promote
student participation. If possible, keep your
cover letter to a single page: The more concise
you are, the likelier that the thoughts in your
cover letter will be completely considered and
processed by the search committee.
Do Your Homework and Adapt
As you can see from the above suggestions, there
is no one right path to take in the preparation
for a career in college teaching. Each institution
is a unique environment with its own particular
picture of what an ideal faculty member looks
like. The strongest piece of advice we can offer
is to adapt your application package to the
interests of each prospective employer. Take the
time to look over the website of each institution
to see what it advertises to the general public
as its mission and strengths. If the institution
is teaching-focused but also heavily emphasizes
Within the first two
lines [of your cover
letter], it should
be clear to the
reader what your
primary interests
and broad career
goals are and
how the particular
job for which you
are applying will
help you meet
those goals.
research productivity, your application should
talk about how your teaching and research can
be integrated to the benefit of both yourself and
your students. If the institution
is a small liberal arts college,
then the search committee
is not likely to care about
how you would use graduate
students in the development
of a research program. By
showing an understanding of
the prospective institution,
you will impress the search
committee with your potential
dedication to the open
College teaching is a
rewarding career opportunity
at any level. Although the
job application process is
never easy, with careful
consideration and preparation
you can position yourself to
be competitive for academic
positions in which your skills
will be used to prepare the next
generation of cell biologists.
—Michael J. Wolyniak, Hampden-Sydney
College and Jennifer A. Roecklein-Canfield,
Simmons College
Volunteer to Review CVs
We are always looking for more volunteers to help review cover letters, CVs, and resumes online for young ASCB scientists. If
you can help, please contact Thea Clarke at
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