Scientists Take Their Concerns to Capitol Hill

L to R:Justin Halberda (Johns Hopkins), Barbara Landau (Johns Hopkins), Rochelle Newman (University of Maryland), Michael R. Dougherty (University of Maryland), Paula Skedsvold (FABBS), Joe Tidwell (University of Maryland), Thomas S. Wallsten (University of Maryland), Joseph H. Danks (University of Maryland), Howard Egeth (Johns Hopkins)

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.”

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