Research Decisions Get Fresh Scrutiny; Scientists Subject to Effects of Sequesters

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 12, 2013 | Go to article overview

Research Decisions Get Fresh Scrutiny; Scientists Subject to Effects of Sequesters


Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Some of the toughest sequester spending decisions involve taxpayer-financed research, where funding today can produce huge benefits tomorrow - but can the government really afford to spend $227,437 to study pictures of animals in National Geographic magazines?

That is one of the 164 grants the National Science Foundation approved last week as it sought to balance its research mission with less funding that means the independent agency will award about 1,000 fewer projects with taxpayer money this year.

The federal government is a major source of financial backing, including $140 billion for research and development alone this year, spread across everything from astrophysics at NASA and defense technology from the Pentagon, to political science from NSF and the latest biomedical research from the National Institutes of Health.

But now, many of those on the receiving end are preparing for cutbacks, and those who do the

spending are trying to figure out where to trim.

I worry deeply about this. I worry deeply that we are putting an entire generation of scientists at risk by the very significant difficulty they see in obtaining support, Dr. Francis S. Collins, NIH director, told reporters in the run-up to the sequesters. A number of our most talented young scientists will basically desire to do something else, or perhaps to do it somewhere else.

Like most government programs subject to the sequesters, there will be plenty of second-guessing about what gets spared and what gets cut from the government's research budget.

The 164 grants NSF approved last week amounted to more than $43 million in new funding this year. The number is actually higher than the pre-sequester average, when NSF approved about 140 grants a week in the current year.

For most taxpayers, the list of projects funded is way beyond their comprehension: Linking Foraging Behaviors to Demography to understand Albatrosses Population Responses to Climate Change, at $605,543; How to Fall from Trees: Biomechanics and Ecology of Gliding Flight in Arthropods, at $28,526; or Geodesy Revealing the Earth in Action, which at $2.4 million was the highest-dollar grant last week.

Some projects, though, do seem understandable - such as Picturing Animals in National Geographic, 1888-2008, which is designed to look at how the esteemed magazine has used animal photos.

The evolving visual depiction of animals will be interpreted, taking into account scientific changes, natural history, environmental history, and the new aesthetic sensibilities provided by the history of landscape and environmental photography and by situating the magazine and its photographers, editors and photographic conventions in their broader historical, cultural and political contexts, chief investigator Linda Kalof said in the abstract for the two-year project, which this week was awarded $227,437.

Ms. Kalof, a professor at Michigan State University, was on jury duty this week and unable to answer questions about the award.

An NSF spokeswoman said all projects go through a peer review panel and those scores are used to determine what gets funded, though she said she couldn't provide the review.

For now, the agency has said it won't rescind money for existing grants.

That doesn't go over well with Sen. Tom Coburn, the top waste-watcher in Congress, who last week posted a Twitter message about one project he had criticized that included building a robotic squirrel and testing under what conditions a rattlesnake would strike at it. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Research Decisions Get Fresh Scrutiny; Scientists Subject to Effects of Sequesters
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.