It is no surprise to any STEM researcher that grant funding from the US government has changed and, in some fields, has become increasingly difficult to obtain*. Many researchers feel that the only solution in the current environment is to write more grants. But that doesn’t change the finite amount of money allocated to spend on research. One perspective, which was presented during a recent webinar, is that “the best way to increase the grant success rate is to increase the NIH and NSF budgets.”
The webinar, titled “How Federal Funding Affects your Science”, was presented by the Society of Neuroscience. The speakers presented some enlightening information on the current and historical state of federal funding for STEM research (webinar slides). There were several key messages that were emphasized. First, members of the STEM community should interact with their legislators and convey the importance of funding STEM research at higher levels.
- Write a letter or email
- Participate in a visit to Capitol Hill
- Host a laboratory visit by a lawmaker
Another key message was to educate STEM colleagues (faculty, students, industry partners) about advocating for increased STEM funding from the US government. Insert a slide into your talks or organize a discussion around STEM funding. Become involved in an organization that supports STEM advocacy. The Society for Neuroscience has an advocacy arm and there are organizations that exist solely for STEM advocacy, such as Research!America. Any small action is a positive one to raise awareness and keep the conversation going.
*Here are recent articles by NBC and The Huffington Post that discuss STEM funding. NIH has posted its own analysis of how the recent federal budget sequestration has impacted research funding. Many state and local governments, as well as individual institutions, have released public information about the impact of funding cuts to research.