The Trump administration’s plan to cut billions of dollars in research spending by eliminating indirect cost reimbursements would devastate university science, especially at public institutions, experts warned.
The U.S. secretary for health and human services, Tom Price, told Congress this week that the idea is to save taxpayers money while giving them the same amount of research activity. Indirect cost payments are funds spent on "something other than the research that’s being done," Dr. Price told a House of Representatives subcommittee on health appropriations on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, just a short walk from the White House, Richard M. Shiffrin led dozens of his academic colleagues through a three-day examination of the trustworthiness of science.
He’s not totally sure it was a good idea.
The colloquium that Mr. Shiffrin and two colleagues organized at the National Academy of Sciences headquarters was planned long before Donald J. Trump took up residence in the nearby executive mansion, capping a campaign that repeatedly challenged science and facts as basic tools of understanding.
For the first time in the post–World War II era, the federal government no longer funds a majority of the basic research carried out in the United States. Data from ongoing surveys by the National Science Foundation (NSF) show that federal agencies provided only 44% of the $86 billion spent on basic research in 2015. The federal share, which topped 70% throughout the 1960s and ’70s, stood at 61% as recently as 2004 before falling below 50% in 2013.
The sharp drop in recent years is the result of two contrasting trends—a flattening of federal spending on basic research over the past decade and a significant rise in corporate funding of fundamental science since 2012. The first is a familiar story to most academic scientists, who face stiffening competition for federal grants.
Seven research projects led by scientists, historians, economists, and public health experts from five Harvard Schools will share about $1 million in the third round of grants awarded by the Climate Change Solutions Fund. This initiative, which was launched by Harvard President Drew Faust, encourages multidisciplinary research that seeks creative solutions to climate change.
“Universities have a uniquely important role to play in the battle against climate change, and Harvard must continue to be at the forefront of efforts to bring disciplines together, deepen awareness of the issue, and speed progress,” said Faust. “This year’s Climate Change Solutions Fund awards will help experts from engineering, medicine, chemistry, public health, public policy, and the arts confront the challenges facing our society and our planet at a moment when the dire consequences of inaction are becoming increasingly apparent.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education Robbert Dijkgraaf
March 2, 2017 On April 30, 1939, under the gathering storm clouds of war, the New York World’s Fair opened in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Its theme wasThe World of Tomorrow. Over the next 18 months, nearly 45 million visitors would be given a peek into a future shaped by newly emerging technologies. Some of the displayed innovations were truly visionary. The fair featured the first automatic dishwasher, air conditioner, and fax machine. The live broadcast of President Franklin Roosevelt’s opening speech introduced America to television. Newsreels showed Elektro the Moto-Man, a seven-foot tall, awkwardly moving aluminum robot that could speak by playing 78-r.p.m. records, smoke a cigarette, and play with his robot dog Sparko. Other attractions, such as a pageant featuring magnificent steam-powered locomotives, could be better characterized as the last gasps of the world of yesterday.
Albert Einstein, honorary chair of the fair’s science advisory committee, presided over the official illumination ceremony, also broadcast live on television. He spoke to a huge crowd on the topic of cosmic rays, highly energetic subatomic particles bombarding the Earth from outer space. But two scientific discoveries that would soon dominate the world were absent at the fair: nuclear energy and electronic computers.