Research funding cut at UD
Published: Monday, March 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
Kelvin Lee of Delaware Biotechnology Institution works with his research team on projects pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease and medical and environmental issues and receives a large portion of his funding from the government.
“We’re fortunate to have support from federal funds, industrial sources and foundations,” Lee said. “A significant fraction is from federal sources.”
However, that funding may be in jeopardy, as the budget sequestration would force cuts on federal programs for companies like Lee’s as well as research universities. The university itself faces an expected loss of about $5.5 to 6 million in funding, Vice Provost for Research Charles Riordan said.
Support from the federal government and the state provides much funding for research at the university, Riordan said, and last year those agencies committed $170 million. The expected cuts could hurt university research across the country, and result in hindrance of technological advancement, Riordan said.
“All research projects receiving federal funding will be at risk,” Riordan said. “It will devastate research that leads to innovative discoveries addressing the most challenging problems to our society.”
The decrease will affect researchers and their graduate students alike. That means less money for their work and travel expenses to places to conduct research, Riordan said.
Adriana Aristizabal is a postdoctoral student of the chemical engineering department who said she is unsure about the effects of sequestration on her work but acknowledges her professors are worried.
“The Department of Energy funds us,” Aristizabal said. “Government cuts wouldn’t be good.”
The university also receives National Institutes of Health grants, Riordan said, so the sequestration means a reduction in funding already in place, as the NIH will see a 5.1 percent cut over the course of the next seven months.
Lee said he expects his work will have a more difficult time securing funding. Less money means fewer resources for education and training of the next generation of scientists, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels, said Lee, who along with Riordan, said he believes that investment in the future of science and technology is vital to the health of the economy.
A good part of economic prosperity and quality of life comes from the investments in science, such as medicine and Global Positioning Systems, Lee said. According to Lee, the sequestration is expected to be a 10-year period and the long-term impact could be felt by everyone in the country.
Despite the apparent drawbacks of the sequestration, Lee said he remains optimistic and hopes resources for him and other researchers will still be available post sequestration.
Funding cuts would mean having to find diverse methods in getting research done. Lee said, so the cuts will put more pressure on scientists to be more creative in getting the monetary support necessary for their research.
Riordan said he is worried the sequestration will slow the progress the university has made in research, leaving the school at risk to lose its competitive advantages. With every university taking funding cuts, the research playing field will be leveled, Riordan said.
“No one will be spared,” he said.