NSF funding to advance research on interplay between biology and society

Scientists will find new ways of understanding the interactions of the biological sciences with society, as a result of awards from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) directorates for biological sciences and for social, behavioral, and economic sciences.

The awards are part of the Science and Society Program. They will allow researchers to address current issues, trends and questions relevant to the impacts of biology on society, and vice versa.

Topics to be studied include widely disseminating the letters and other correspondence of Charles Darwin; ways to foster scientific collaboration with Native American communities on issues of sustainability; how populations in Brazil have used scientific information to adapt water systems to climate change; and how concepts of "biodiversity" have changed over time and the impact of these changes on conservation efforts.

The goal of the Science and Society Program is to fund research that examines questions that arise in the interactions of engineering, science, technology, and society. A subset of these awards focuses specifically on the intersections of biology and society.

"Science and scientists don't operate in isolation," said Paul Farel, program director in NSF's directorate for biological sciences. "Their research can have profound implications for the wider world. This program emphasizes that science is an integral part of our social and cultural context."

"Research in biology, which includes ecology and genetics, has had a tremendous impact on society," said Fred Kronz, program director in NSF's directorate for social, behavioral and economic sciences. "There are substantial and important reciprocal impacts. These mutual influences have been growing for decades and are rapidly accelerating."

A project by the American Council for Learned Societies and led by Frederick Burkhardt will continue work on editing the correspondence of Charles Darwin. Darwi

Contact: Cheryl Dybas
National Science Foundation

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