Scientists Take Their Concerns to Capitol Hill

June 18, 2013

by Paula Skedsvold  

A group of Maryland-based scientists visited Capitol Hill on Friday, June 14th to talk about the impact of diminished federal funding for science, sequestration’s additional blows to scientific advances, and the continued threats to SBE sciences. The goal was to share their concerns with one of their elected officials, Senator Barbara Mikulski, the Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The scientists met with appropriations staff about the difficult funding climate for science, the resulting “brain drain” in key areas of science, the challenges for senior investigators and those just entering science careers, and the importance of respecting the peer review process for identifying the best science. 

All of the scientists launched their careers with fundamental (basic) science funding through the SBE Directorate at NSF. Now, years later, the research is leading to potential clinical health applications and uses in intelligence analysis, defense, and the private sector. The scientists highlighted their areas of research that are now addressing health and national security challenges, the interplay between basic and applied research, and the range of federal agencies interested in their programs of research.  

One participant, decision scientist Tom Wallsten, commented: “As scientists, we need to educate ourselves about what is happening on Capitol Hill and express ourselves on the issues. The momentum is toward more cuts and more scrutiny for individual grants, broad fields of science, including ours, and accountability in using science funds. We need to educate Congress and the public on the many ways in which our research benefits society and the nation.”

Please let your elected federal officials know of your concerns. Tell them to:

  • Support adequate appropriations for advancing science, and find a balanced approach to deficit reduction that protects funding for science;
  • Support the peer review process as the best way to identify the most meritorious research proposals;
  • Oppose efforts to eliminate funding for entire areas of science; shift funding from particular disciplines or entire areas of research; or place restrictions on research such that immediate applications are required for basic science research.