Let’s be frank. 2016 has been a rough one for many people. For me, chronic illness, home improvement (aka fixing all the deferred maintenance), and injury took time away from my consulting life. I think it is safe to say that after the election, certain areas of science funding will take a hit. The best news out of the AAAS webinar on Monday was that biomedical research is probably safe. Safe because it is something lay persons relate to because of personal experience. The other bit of good news is that existing grants represent commitments and are safe. The bad news on Monday was the unknown. Today, knowing some of the proposed agency heads, the news is much worse. Federal funding for certain basic research fields may not exist in the near future or be severely reduced.
I spent the days after the election at the Grant Professionals Association Annual Conference held in Atlanta this year. It was the best place to be after the election. My workshop entitled, “Scientific Research Grants and Their Academic Relatives: A Guide for the Curious” had no empty seats. The attendees had a great time figuring out the funded grants from the unfunded ones using only abstracts/summaries. They also had questions about these kinds of grants and working with faculty. I collected those for future blog posts and helpful documents. Another academic grant professional presented a similar workshop on helping faculty and students find grant support in the humanities and social sciences and I was the session host. Between the two of us we pretty much covered the parallel universe of academic grants. In these uncertain times, grant professionals of all types in higher education are there to support faculty and student research efforts.
The conference is always an uplifting experience, but this time a current of worry ran through it all. Attendees were genuinely worried about the future of all sources of funding and the grants profession itself. For all concerned it is always about the greater good, the unmet need, the unanswered question. Although we are worried about what the future holds for science funding and more, I am reminded that the M in STEM stands for Mathematics. Math explains everything. Math, through game theory gives us hope.
Joshua Weitz @weitzlab
CITATION: Joshua S. Weitz, Ceyhun Eksin, Keith Paarporn, Sam P. Brown and William C. Ratcliff, “An oscillating tragedy of the commons in replicator dynamics with game-environment feedback,” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016).http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/11/02/1604096113.abstract
Deb Cook PhD