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IBRCS Overview Focus on NEON News Events Working Group Reports

September 21, 2004: NEON Design Consortium Announced

NEON enters a final planning phase before it will be ready to be implemented in 2006.  NSF announced today that a team of scientists, engineers, program managers and consultants affiliated with the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) will create a NEON Design Consortium and Project Office responsible for developing the science, education and design plans for NEON over the next two years.  To accomplish this, a series of meetings will be held in which nominated members of the consortium will determine what NEON’s high-priority research questions and associated design requirements will be.  Nominations for committee chairs and members are being accepted now at the new NEON website,  There you will find project updates and you will be able to access the NDC proposal.

July 15, 2004: AIBS hosts a NEON Summer Workshop Series to begin designing NEON's science and infrastructure plans

The previous two years of NEON-related activity have revealed several steps that the scientific community must take along the path to the creation of NEON. A critical prerequisite for NEON will be the development of a detailed description of the physical design of the network [i.e., a description of the infrastructure to comprise NEON, where it will be located (or how it will travel), and how it will be connected and incorporated into a functioning network]. Furthermore, a prerequisite to that physical design is a definition of the scientific objectives and targets of NEON. A National Research Council Committee on NEON recently recommended six grand challenge areas that require a national platform for research and education, and AIBS is now helping the community further define NEON science objectives and network design in the context of those challenge areas through a series of workshops. By conducting workshops in partnership with experts from the prospective NEON community, these workshops will provide venues for discussing, developing and prioritizing NEON's science objectives. The goal of the workshops is to (1) identify the key scientific questions and hypotheses related to the challenge area that can be best addressed by a distributed and integrated ecological research facility, such as NEON and (2) suggest infrastructure design needs for NEON, based on the technological and scientific requirements associated with those questions and hypotheses.

The recommendations arising from this workshop series will constitute a head start on activities requested by NSF and the results of the workshops have the potential to be a significant contribution to subsequent NEON planning activities.

February 5, 2004: Information is now available on the March 18th NEON workshop entitled, "Designing NEON initiatives for invasive species"

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is intended to be a continent-wide research platform, composed of networked state-of-the-art analytical and communication technologies. As part of the development process it is important to describe to the network's scientific, technological, and financial requirements to the intended research community and targeted funding agencies. This workshop, convened by AIBS as part of the IBRCS project, is an effort to describe those requirements for the invasive species component of NEON. The workshop will be held at the Westin Grand Hotel, 2350 M St. NW, Washington DC, 20037, (202) 429-0100. For more information contact Rina Aviram () and see

January 27, 2004: NSF releases NEON program solicitation for proposals to develop NEON Coordinating Consortium and Project Office

The National Science Foundation requests proposals for the establishment of a NEON Coordinating Consortium and NEON Project Office. The consortium will provide scientific leadership, administration, community participation, and overall governance of NEON and will include a project office, which will plan and coordinate activities for NEON. The solicitation (NSF 04-549) is titled National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON): Development of NEON Coordinating Consortium (NCC) and Project Office. Letter of intent are required and are due March 8, 2004. Full proposals are due April 26, 2004.

January 8, 2004: Now available — IBRCS white paper: A Plan for Developing and Governing the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)

Results of the two-part NEON Coordination and Implementation Conference are now available in the IBRCS white paper: A Plan for Developing and Governing the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The 23-page report is also available in hardcopy by contacting Jeffrey Goldman (, Director, IBRCS Program.

December 4, 2003: Congress directs NSF to continue refining NEON plan — see discussion in BioScience.

A House Senate Conference Committee report, expected to be adopted in the coming weeks, directs NSF to continue refining the NEON plan with funding from the Research and Related Activities account. NSF had sought $6M in that account to fund NEON activities. NSF also had sought funding for implementation of NEON from the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account, but the committee declined that request without prejudice, instead requesting further development of NEON in light of a recent report from the National Academy of Science, Neon: Addressing the Nation's Environmental Challenges. That report endorsed the NEON concept but suggested that certain aspects of the implementation plan need improvement. An IBRCS White Paper on the coordination and implementation of NEON, which will be released this month, will provide guidance on a process for continued planning.

For more information see "Third Time a Charm for NSF's National Ecological Observatory Network?" in the December 2003 BioScience  

December 4, 2003: Coming Soon — IBRCS White Paper on developing and governing NEON.

Following the two-part NEON Coordination and Implementation Conference, AIBS will publish a white paper this month on the development and governance of NEON. This report provides timely guidance for NSF and the NEON community in the wake of a recent congressional directive to refine the NEON plan. The report will be available for download from this website.


November 4, 2003: IBRCS Working Group supports NRC NEON report in open letter to NSF.

Dear Dr. Blood:

The Infrastructure for Biology at Regional to Continental Scales (IBRCS) Working Group supports the findings and recommendations of the National Research Council's Committee on the National Ecological Observatory Network as articulated in the report, NEON: Addressing the Nation's Environmental Challenges. We welcome the committee's unequivocal endorsement of the NEON concept and the need to develop integrated biological research infrastructure to confront the nation's environmental challenges. With this report, the NRC has added its voice to numerous calls for support of the next-generation environmental research.

Read the full letter (pdf).


October 15, 2003: Public Comment period begins for Draft Report from NEON Coordination and Implementation Conference.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) seeks your feedback on a draft report on the Coordination and Implementation of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The report is a synthesis of discussions that took place during a conference at the National Museum of Natural History on September 4-6, 2003 and describes a both an organizational framework and a process for implementation. The report, tentatively titled Coordination and Implementation of NEON, is the second white paper about NEON issued in association with the IBRCS project — an effort to foster development of next-generation biological research infrastructure. More information about the conference is available.

We seek feedback on the report in one or more of the following ways:

  • Submit written comments about the report via an online form. Comments must be received by November 7, 2003.
  • Attend the open session of a follow-up conference in Washington, DC.
  • Participate in the open session of the follow-up conference via teleconference.

Teleconference and Webcast details:

To participate in the teleconference, dial (800) 817-8874 and connect to the "AIBS Conference".

For the Webcast, you may listen directly, or visit for more information. (Windows Media Player version 7.0 or greater recommended.)

Questions and other correspondence should be directed to me at or 202-628-1500 ext. 225.


September 17, 2003: NRC NEON study released.

The ad hoc Committee on the National Ecological Observatory Network established by the National Research Council has released its findings in a report, titled "NEON: Addressing the Nation's Environmental Challenges." A prepublication version of the report can be read online. The Committee has also released a one page summary of their study.


July 22, 2003: Reports section updated.

Links to two reports have been added to this website. One, the Facilities Management and Oversight Guide, is of particular relevance because it provides an overview of the roles, responsibilities, and requirements on the part of NSF and awardee institutions regarding management and oversight of large facility projects, like NEON, throughout their lifecycle. Although somewhat older, the other report proposes a national framework for integrating environmental monitoring and related research on the Nation's ecological systems and resources.


July 16, 2003: House signals support for NEON in subcommittee appropriations bill.

On Thursday, July 15, 2003, the House VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies (including NSF) Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its FY 04 bill, which includes $12 million for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). This is an early sign of support for NEON, however, the bill must still be debated and voted on by the full Appropriations Committee, the full House of Representatives, and then reconciled with the Senate version of the same bill, which has not yet been drafted.

The bill also provided NSF a 6.2% increase over 2003 funding levels. The Biological Sciences Directorate received just under $587 million, a 2.8% increase over 2003 levels and 4.4% increase over the President's request.


June 30, 2003: Dr. Elizabeth Blood new NSF Program Director for Research Resources responsible for NEON.

Dr. Liz Blood joined the staff of National Science Foundation this month as a Program Director for Research Resources in the Division of Biological Infrastructure. Among her responsibilities is oversight of the proposed NEON program.

Dr. Blood came to NSF from the J.W. Jones Ecological Research Center, where she was an ecologist and an adjunct graduate professor at UGA's Institute of Ecology. She has published books and scientific articles on a variety of water-related topics, including freshwater sustainability, regional water management, water resource policy, wetlands, watershed modeling, estuary conditions, agricultural water consumption, and nutrient cycling. Dr. Blood helps to organize and conduct state and regional workshops, conferences, and symposia related to water resource management and conservation, and gives frequent presentations on these topics. In recent years, she has been involved in state and regional water resource policy initiatives. She was appointed to the committee responsible for developing Georgia's first water resource planning and management framework. Other examples include the Georgia Drought Management Planning Committee, the Southwest Georgia Agribusiness Association, and a founding member and co-chair of the Southwest Georgia Water Resources Task Force and Southwest Georgia Water Resource and Health Initiative. She has received state and national recognition for these efforts.

Dr. Elizabeth Blood
Program Director for Research Resources
Division of Biological Infrastructure, Room 615
National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230 USA
Phone: 703-292-8470
Fax: 703-292-9063


June 19, 2003: Streaming audio archive of NRC NEON meeting available online.

A streaming audio archive of the June 10, 2003 workshop held by the National Research Council committee on NEON is now available online.


May 19, 2003: NRC to study NEON; Input sought through web forum and June 10 public meeting/webcast.

As announced in a 'Dear Colleague' letter, the National Research Council is beginning a study on the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The study committee will structure their investigation around the following four questions.

  1. What are the important issues in ecology and environmental biology that can only be addressed on a regional or continental scale? Are any of these issues of national concern?
  2. Is a national network of field and laboratory research infrastructure (e.g. environmental sensor arrays, remotely operated gas and ion analyzers, biodiversity monitoring instrumentation) needed to address these questions?
  3. Will NEON, as conceptualized in the series of six community workshops, be able to provide infrastructure and logistical support to address ecological and environmental questions of national concern?
  4. What impact will NEON have on the scientific community and the next generation of scientists?

Web forum
The committee will host a web forum to solicit suggestions and comments from the ecological community and the wider scientific community regarding the issues listed above from June 2 to June 16. Please navigate to [Note: site not available until 5/30/03] for more information on NEON and to join in the discussion.

Public Meeting
In addition to the web forum, the committee will be holding its first meeting on June 10, 2003 at the National Academy of Sciences Building, which will be open to public between 1:30 - 4:30 p.m. EDT. See the event listing for details.

If you cannot attend, you may participate in the meeting by listening to a live audio webcast and submitting questions using an e-mail form at

For further details see the 'Dear Colleague' letter.


May 15, 2003: Now available online: Video recording of AIBS national roundtable Sensing the Environment: The Future of Environmental Observatory Networks
National Press Club, Washington DC
March 25, 2003

The roundtable accompanied the release of the IBRCS white paper, Rationale, Blueprint, and Expectations for the National Ecological Observatory Network. The program included talks by Kent Holsinger, Jim Reichman, Cindy Kolar, and John Aber and discussion with the audience. The Organization of Biological Field Stations, the Ecological Society of America, and the Association of Ecosystem Research Centers cosponsored the event.

The online media presentation includes streaming audio and video display of the speakers, synchronized display of accompanying slides, a crawling transcript, and a convenient method of navigation between slides and talks. 1h 49m (including follow-up discussion). Windows Media Player and free login required.


May 02, 2003: Now online, the NEON video. Development with AIBS coordinated by the Ecological Society of America.


April 25, 2003: May 2003 BioScience article: "NEON: Planning for a New Frontier in Biology" [788k pdf].


March 25, 2003: IBRCS White Paper released online and at Press Club roundtable.

AIBS cosponsored a roundtable at the National Press Club titled: Sensing the Environment: The Future of Environmental Observatory Networks. Kent Holsinger, Chair of the IBRCS Working Group, described the IBRCS White Paper: Rationale, Blueprint, and Expectations for the National Ecological Observatory Network to an audience of about 50 people from universities, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. The program also included talks by Jim Reichman, Cindy Kolar, and John Aber.

The Scientist and Environment News Service reported on the event.

The white paper is now available for download. To request hard copies, contact Jeffrey Goldman, IBRCS Project Manager.


March 17, 2003: IBRCS White Paper: Rationale, Blueprint, and Expectations for the National Ecological Observatory Network set for release on March 25, 2003.

The IBRCS White Paper: Rationale, Blueprint, and Expectations for the National Ecological Observatory Network will be released at a public roundtable in Washington DC on March 25 titled Sensing the Environment: The Future of Environmental Observatory Networks. The white paper will be available in hard copy and as a download from this website.


February 20, 2003: FY04 budget includes NEON.

From the AIBS Public Policy Office News for 02/20/2003:

Based on its proposed budget for FY 04, the National Science Foundation (NSF) appears to have followed the advice of the National Science Board's recent draft report on infrastructure for science and engineering. The budget proposes a 20% increase over the FY03 request for the "tools" category to a total $1.3 billion, thus bumping the tools category to 25% of the total $5.481 billion requested for NSF. This represents an increase from last year's 22.3% of the budget that the National Science Board's Committee on Scientific Infrastructure stated was too low. Of the amount dedicated to "tools", $202 million, a whopping 60.2% increase over last year's request, would go to the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MRE) account. The request for MRE projects includes the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON).


November 26, 2002: AIBS announces a series of three IBRCS/NEON town meetings.

AIBS will convene a series of town meetings to hear from the scientific community about NEON. Three meetings are currently scheduled.

December 13, Washington, DC
January 17, Los Angeles, CA
February 14, Denver, CO

Additional information is available, and online registration is required.


November 16, 2002: Working group convenes for inaugural meeting.

The IBRCS working group held its first face-to-face meeting on November 15-16, 2002 at the Hilton Arlington & Towers in Arlington, VA.


November 1, 2002: AIBS appoints remaining working group members.

The IBRCS working group roster is now complete with the addition of the following members:

Deborah Estrin, Jeffrey Goldman, K. Bruce Jones, Micah Krichevsky, William Michener, Richard O'Grady, Rob Striegl, Allen Young, and AIBS Board Members, Kent Holsinger and Mary McKenna. Kent Holsinger was appointed Chair of the working group.


September 30, 2002: Working group election results announced; IBRCS mailing list initiated.

AIBS extend congratulations to Michael Allen, Madilyn Fletcher, Rebecca Gast, Janet Keough, Yiqi Luo, Emília Martins, Eric Nagy, Raymond O'Connor, Louis Pitelka, and Hillary Swain for being elected to the IBRCS working group.

A new electronic mailing list for the IBRCS project is now available. Interested parties can now sign up on this website to receive occasional project updates and discussions related to IBRCS and other biological monitoring efforts such as NEON.


September 16, 2002: Polls are open for AIBS member societies and organizations to vote for members of the IBRCS working group. Polls close 12 p.m. EDT Sept. 27, 2002.


August 26, 2002: AIBS calls on its member societies and organizations to submit nominations for IBRCS working group membership.

AIBS is seeking nominations for membership on a newly forming working group as part of the IBRCS project. Nominations are sought from leaders of AIBS member societies and organizations by September 6, 2002.

Note: Nomination period extended to 12:00 pm, Friday, September 13, 2002.


August 2002: AIBS launches the IBRCS project with support from the National Science Foundation. Jeffrey Goldman has joined the AIBS staff as IBRCS project manager.

The following are the project's goals:

  • Help the biological/scientific community — within and beyond the AIBS membership — to determine the needs and means for increased physical infrastructure and connectivity in observational platforms, data collection and analysis, and database networking in both field biology and other more general areas of biology and science
  • Provide for communications within this community and with NSF regarding the development and focus of relevant infrastructure and data-networking projects, such as NEON
  • Disseminate information about relevant infrastructure and data-networking projects to the scientific community, the public policy community, the media, and the general public in the form of brochures, reports, articles in the AIBS publication, BioScience, and this website

The AIBS/IBRCS Project is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. All Content (c) AIBS, 2000-2004