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Data and Research to Improve the U.S. Food Availability System and Estimates of Food Loss: A Workshop Report (2015)

February 14, 2015 Comments off

Data and Research to Improve the U.S. Food Availability System and Estimates of Food Loss: A Workshop Report (2015)
Source: National Research Council

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Economic Research Service’s (ERS) Food Availability Data System includes three distinct but related data series on food and nutrient availability for consumption. The data serve as popular proxies for actual consumption at the national level for over 200 commodities (e.g., fresh spinach, beef, and eggs). The core Food Availability (FA) data series provides data on the amount of food available, per capita, for human consumption in the United States with data back to 1909 for many commodities. The Loss-Adjusted Food Availability (LAFA) data series is derived from the FA data series by adjusting for food spoilage, plate waste, and other losses to more closely approximate 4 actual intake. The LAFA data provide daily estimates of the per capita availability amounts adjusted for loss (e.g., in pounds, ounces, grams, and gallons as appropriate), calories, and food pattern equivalents (i.e., “servings”) of the five major food groups (fruit, vegetables, grains, meat, and dairy) available for consumption plus the amounts of added sugars and sweeteners and added fats and oils available for consumption. This fiscal year, as part of its initiative to systematically review all of its major data series, ERS decided to review the FADS data system. One of the goals of this review is to advance the knowledge and understanding of the measurement and technical aspects of the data supporting FADS so the data can be maintained and improved.

Data and Research to Improve the U.S. Food Availability System and Estimates of Food Loss is the summary of a workshop convened by the Committee on National Statistics of the National Research Council and the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine to advance knowledge and understanding of the measurement and technical aspects of the data supporting the LAFA data series so that these data series and subsequent food availability and food loss estimates can be maintained and improved. The workshop considered such issues as the effects of termination of selected Census Bureau and USDA data series on estimates for affected food groups and commodities; the potential for using other data sources, such as scanner data, to improve estimates of food availability; and possible ways to improve the data on food loss at the farm and retail levels and at restaurants. This report considers knowledge gaps, data sources that may be available or could be generated to fill gaps, what can be learned from other countries and international organizations, ways to ensure consistency of treatment of commodities across series, and the most promising opportunities for new data for the various food availability series.

Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness

February 12, 2015 Comments off

Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness
Source: Institute of Medicine

Between 836,000 and 2.5 million Americans suffer from myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome—commonly referred to as ME/ CFS. This disease is characterized by profound fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, sleep abnormalities, autonomic manifestations, pain, and other symptoms that are made worse by exertion of any sort. ME/CFS can severely impair patients’ ability to conduct their normal lives.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Insti­tutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Social Security Administration asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to convene an expert committee to examine the evidence base for ME/CFS. In Beyond Myal­gic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness, the com­mittee proposes new diagnostic criteria that will facilitate timely diagnosis and care and enhance understanding among health care providers and the public.

Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults

February 5, 2015 Comments off

Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults
Source: Institute of Medicine, National Research Council

Young adulthood—ages approximately 18 to 26—is a critical period of development with long-lasting implications for a person’s economic security, health, and well-being.

Recognizing the need for a special focus on young adulthood, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the Department of Health and Human Services, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Department of Defense commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) to convene a committee of experts to review what is known about the health, safety, and well-being of young adults and to offer recommendations for policy and research.

The resulting report, Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults, offers federal, state, and local policy makers and program leaders, as well as employers, nonprofit organizations, and other community partners’ guidance in developing and enhancing policies and programs to improve young adults’ health, safety, and well-being. In addition, the report suggests priorities for research to inform policies and programs for young adults.

Airport Cooperative Research Program: Annual Report of Progress

February 3, 2015 Comments off

Airport Cooperative Research Program: Annual Report of Progress (PDF)
Source: Transportation Research Board

Today’s airport practitioners need easy access to the tools that will keep their facilities open and thriving. In this era of uncertainty, the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) serves as a source of unbiased, accurate research to assist the industry. ACRP is an applied research program managed by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies and sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration. Together with public- and private-sector industry experts, ACRP produces reports, syntheses, and digests that cover a diverse set of research fields: safety, policy, planning, airport design, construction, legal issues, maintenance, operations, and administration.

The shift in the airport industry—from predictable traffic and passenger levels to economic instability, capacity constraints, and congestion—has required airport practitioners to respond with creative problem solving. ACRP has been offering practical, hands-on software guidance, modeling tools, sample planning documents, best practices, worksheets, checklists, and more since 2006. Critical to ACRP’s success has been its ability to establish and engage with a growing network of airport practitioners. Over the past nine years, industry experts representing all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have contributed to the program’s research and helped ensure that ACRP’s work is relevant and meaningful to its audience.

Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Science

January 29, 2015 Comments off

Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Science
Source: National Research Council

Ocean science connects a global community of scientists in many disciplines – physics, chemistry, biology, geology and geophysics. New observational and computational technologies are transforming the ability of scientists to study the global ocean with a more integrated and dynamic approach. This enhanced understanding of the ocean is becoming ever more important in an economically and geopolitically connected world, and contributes vital information to policy and decision makers charged with addressing societal interests in the ocean.

Science provides the knowledge necessary to realize the benefits and manage the risks of the ocean. Comprehensive understanding of the global ocean is fundamental to forecasting and managing risks from severe storms, adapting to the impacts of climate change, and managing ocean resources. In the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is the primary funder of the basic research which underlies advances in our understanding of the ocean. Sea Change addresses the strategic investments necessary at NSF to ensure a robust ocean scientific enterprise over the next decade. This survey provides guidance from the ocean sciences community on research and facilities priorities for the coming decade and makes recommendations for funding priorities.

Reaching Students: What Research Says About Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineering (2015)

January 21, 2015 Comments off

Reaching Students: What Research Says About Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineering (2015)
Source: National Research Council

The undergraduate years are a turning point in producing scientifically literate citizens and future scientists and engineers. Evidence from research about how students learn science and engineering shows that teaching strategies that motivate and engage students will improve their learning. So how do students best learn science and engineering? Are there ways of thinking that hinder or help their learning process? Which teaching strategies are most effective in developing their knowledge and skills? And how can practitioners apply these strategies to their own courses or suggest new approaches within their departments or institutions? Reaching Students strives to answer these questions.

Reaching Students presents the best thinking to date on teaching and learning undergraduate science and engineering. Focusing on the disciplines of astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, geosciences, and physics, this book is an introduction to strategies to try in your classroom or institution. Concrete examples and case studies illustrate how experienced instructors and leaders have applied evidence-based approaches to address student needs, encouraged the use of effective techniques within a department or an institution, and addressed the challenges that arose along the way.

The research-based strategies in Reaching Students can be adopted or adapted by instructors and leaders in all types of public or private higher education institutions. They are designed to work in introductory and upper-level courses, small and large classes, lectures and labs, and courses for majors and non-majors. And these approaches are feasible for practitioners of all experience levels who are open to incorporating ideas from research and reflecting on their teaching practices. This book is an essential resource for enriching instruction and better educating students.

New Report Says No Technological Replacement Exists for Bulk Data Collection; Software Can Enhance Targeted Collection and Automate Control of Data Usage to Protect Privacy

January 16, 2015 Comments off

New Report Says No Technological Replacement Exists for Bulk Data Collection; Software Can Enhance Targeted Collection and Automate Control of Data Usage to Protect Privacy
Source: National Research Council

No software-based technique can fully replace the bulk collection of signals intelligence, but methods can be developed to more effectively conduct targeted collection and to control the usage of collected data, says a new report from the National Research Council. Automated systems for isolating collected data, restricting queries that can be made against those data, and auditing usage of the data can help to enforce privacy protections and allay some civil liberty concerns, the unclassified report says.

The study was a result of an activity called for in Presidential Policy Directive 28, issued by President Obama in January 2014, to evaluate U.S. signals intelligence practices. The directive instructed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to produce a report within one year “assessing the feasibility of creating software that would allow the intelligence community more easily to conduct targeted information acquisition rather than bulk collection.” ODNI asked the Research Council — the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering — to conduct a study, which began in June 2014, to assist in preparing a response to the President. Over the ensuing months, a committee of experts appointed by the Research Council produced the report.

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