Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

Science funding these days

This article on science funding was on NPR yesterday, and there was also a radio segment today that has not been written up yet. This is a very alarming issue to me, and I'm glad to see it getting some press.

What I thought was interesting to note is that part of the reason for all these problems is the research institutions making a fairly classic financial mistake - spending instead of saving a windfall. However, I don't know the nitty-gritty of those decisions; those grants have to be "spent down," and when they're huge, building a bunch of new lab space and hiring a ton of people makes sense if the money is "use it or lose it." Maybe someone else can shed light on this.


The situation in other fields is even more dire - if the people working on cancer treatments have trouble getting money, more basic research fields are even worse off.

I wonder which jobs they're cutting; it talks about UVA cutting 300 jobs, which I presume must be technicians and such. You can't get rid of tenured faculty, you can't just lay off associate faculty (as far as I know), and I hope you can't just kick out grad students. But I do wonder what happens to grad students and postdocs if the funds dry up. Associate professors will lose their jobs if they repeatedly can't get funding.

Today's segment, which doesn't have a text article up yet, mentioned that this problem is causing a lot of researchers to focus on short term problems that they can get a quick paper with sexy results out of, not the kind of basic research that yields breakthroughs years down the line.

This is all very bad news for science, both in solving immediate problems and increasing our general knowledge.


Finally, I've witnessed a lot of these struggles by academics firsthand, and the money scramble is brutal, not to mention the job hunt has been made much more difficult by this. Can't help feeling like I dodged a bullet by not being talented enough to go into it!

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