*June 24 Update: Due to the continued uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, ORD has decided to postpone the October 2020 ROCS-Net event to the spring/summer of 2021. ORD’s ROCS-Net planning team will work with the Regional Science Liaisons to reach out to regional, state and tribal participants and others who are directly involved with the program to inform them about the postponement and coordinate some interim virtual interactions this fall and winter to frame preliminary discussions on the science topics identified by each region.*
This week, U.S. EPA announced the call for applications for its Office of Research and Development’s (ORD) 2020 Regional/ORD Community of Science Networking (ROCS-Net) Program to the EPA Regions. The program provides an opportunity for region, state and tribal scientists and engineers to visit an ORD research facility for discussions with ORD scientists about collaborative research opportunities, regional and state priorities and cross-cutting issues. This year, the ROCS-Net event will be held during the week of October 19, 2020, at the EPA facility in Cincinnati, OH, and will focus on research related to water quality, land remediation, homeland security and materials management.
ROCS-Net is designed as an orientation program for scientists who have had limited engagement with ORD and would benefit from a greater understanding of ORD capabilities and expertise. An important goal of the program is to develop a community of science between ORD and its partners and strengthen science across the Agency and beyond by establishing new connections and providing a path to future collaborative opportunities (see attached program overview). To further enhance this goal, this year 11 tribal scientists (one per region plus one from Alaskan Native Villages) will be invited to join 20 state scientists (two per region) and 10 regional scientists (one per region) in the ROCS-Net Program.
To optimize the application and selection process and ensure consistency among the regions, ORD has asked that the EPA Regions first identify their regional participant and science issue. Once regional participants and their science issues have been identified, EPA’s Deputy Regional Administrators will work with states in their region to identify the process for selecting the two state participants. Concurrently with the state outreach, each Regional Science Liaison (RSL) will work together with regional tribal contacts to select a tribal participant for their region. Each EPA Region is asked to ensure that the regional, state and tribal participants have similar or complementary science interests. Once selected, regional, state and tribal participants will work together to develop an issue paper on the selected science issue and provide that paper to ORD in advance of the ROCS-Net event. The deadline for submitting selected regional, state and tribal candidates to ORD is April 6, 2020.