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Government Roundup

July 23, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 30

NIST is launching a research consortium to focus on manufacturing soft materials, ranging from detergents to chocolate bars to flexible electronics and solar cells. The effort’s goals are to optimize properties of soft materials and maximize production yields. The first meeting is set for Aug. 14.

The Obama Administration has committed $100 million this year to create a Master Teacher Corps for K–12 education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Selected master teachers will receive $20,000 over their base salary in exchange for mentoring other science teachers and modeling best practices.

The Energy Department last week announced grants totaling more than $40 million. These include $11 million for 13 nuclear energy R&D projects; $1.6 million in university-related nuclear training grants; and $30 million for 13 research projects to support expansion of natural gas fuel use in cars and trucks through DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program.

The U.S. should take steps to improve its manufacturing competitiveness and encourage U.S. investment, according to a report from industry heads and academic leaders reviewing the issue for the President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology. The report lays out actions needed to enable innovation, secure the talent pipeline, and improve the business climate.

FDA, CDC, UC Davis, and instrument firm Agilent Technologies have partnered to create a database of 100,000 food-borne pathogen genomes. The five-year effort, dubbed the 100K Genome Project, aims to speed up identification of food-borne pathogens from about one week to days or hours.

Current and former state lawmakers are asking the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee to investigate what they call “unethical chemical industry activities” against states’ attempts to regulate flame retardants. The request stems from a recent Chicago Tribune series on flame retardants.



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