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(12,265 posts)
Thu Nov 20, 2014, 12:05 PM Nov 2014

Does anyone have any thoughts about NIH and NSF funding with the Republicans in charge?

We aren't buying much this year and you can blame the Republicans for it. Since the anti science contingent won the Senate we are terrified my husband's NIH grant will not be renewed and his biomedical research will come to a screeching halt. It has been said that only research that is applicable to homeland security or the military will get funded, we hope that is a rumor, but it makes sense with the neocons in control. Without it, we do not have any summer salary, it will cost us a quarter of our income. We have heard all kinds of rumors, his NIH and NSF both are up for renewal in 2015.

The graduate students who work in his lab will not have a salary either. Not enough summer teaching next summer to make up for it. We are terrified, only spending what we have to. He is looking at some corporate and private support just in case, but it is like living on thin ice. He has written 4 grants in the last 6 months to various agencies, he works so hard, he worries about his students as much as worrying about us, I've never been so frightened.

I don't know why anyone would be an academic in a hard science these days. He loves teaching and he loves his research, he does lots of outreach to high schools but it is a challenge to pay the student loans and keep moving.

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Does anyone have any thoughts about NIH and NSF funding with the Republicans in charge? (Original Post) redstatebluegirl Nov 2014 OP
I think certain NIH programs focused on particular diseases will continue zazen Nov 2014 #1
He is a good writer. redstatebluegirl Nov 2014 #2
I never expected this level of political insanity (accelerating after SCOTUS stole election) zazen Nov 2014 #3


(2,978 posts)
1. I think certain NIH programs focused on particular diseases will continue
Thu Nov 20, 2014, 12:29 PM
Nov 2014

simply because these politicians have family members, friends, and constituents afflicted and they have obvious self-interest in continuing to "seek cures," however simply they understand it. Whether the biomedical research with any attention to public health and access will be funded--well, I doubt that. I suspect those goals need to fly well below the radar. Also, as you suggest, NSF and other basic research programs that can be explicitly tied to economic development or homeland security may be protected.

The American competitive granting system has become unsustainable over the last 20 years, related to the larger problems of neoliberal economics (generating from both parties), but I agree that the current GOP regime will become more explicit in targeting particular programs (like going after NSF's SBER funding). Because of crumbling universities and their ridiculous doubling down on going after sponsored funds in lieu of equitably redistributing resources from administration to faculty, the competition was already increasing even when funding levels remained at generous 1990s levels.

I've seen grant competitions with 30% funding rates hit about 1%. It's preposterous.

Re your personal situation, I've known so many poor academics--and many, many overpaid administrators--that I feel for you and don't see a lot of options within the current higher ed infrastructure.

If he's a decent writer, there's a real growth industry in consulting for foreign language researchers who wish to publish in English language journals. It pays 20-60 ish an hour, but if you've got a PhD in a biomedical field and strong editing skills, academic consulting companies can hire him freelance on an article by article basis. As for the grad students, well, it's probably the best pay in the academy they'll ever get and the sooner they start looking for other options (or investigating creating co-ops, barter economies, and homesteading skills), the less debt and re-skilling they'll need as things continue downward.

It's awful. I feel for you.


(12,265 posts)
2. He is a good writer.
Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:10 PM
Nov 2014

He has a doctorate in chemistry from a top 10 school. His lab has been funded through NIH and NSF since we came here from his post doctoral program. He is a very good grant writer and has been published quite often in peer reviewed journals. He is almost 50 and we still owe tons of student loans believe it or not. He has done some consulting work in China in the past few years. He might be able to do that again this year in the summer as a funding option. He should have enough left for partial summer salary this summer.

Thank you for your suggestions and for caring about our situation, when we first started going for the PhD it seemed like the right path for him, clearly we were wrong...


(2,978 posts)
3. I never expected this level of political insanity (accelerating after SCOTUS stole election)
Thu Nov 20, 2014, 02:14 PM
Nov 2014

I normally think of our economic decline as part of a larger issue with humans extracting millions of years of fossil fuels in a cosmic second and global neoliberalism's insane way of dealing with that. I tend not to think particular individuals/elections would have made that much of a difference. But had Al Gore assumed the Presidency he legally won, it's hard to imagine we'd be in such a crazy position today. At least there might have been more infrastructure in place to help people cope and mitigate the worst of the inevitable, and that would have included continued funding for higher ed.

In other words, I don't think you were wrong or short sighted when you believed in that STEM PhD. The illegal or unconstitutional behavior of a lot of bad actors have made it a lot worse than it would have otherwise been.

Re grants, a research development strategy I used to recommend to many tenure-stream clients is to get built into a lot of interdisciplinary education (NSF EHR, usually) grant proposals, although I suspect those will be cut more too (they're facing 1-3% rates and it gets crazier each year). However, education faculty usually desperately need STEM faculty as Co-PI's for credibility with reviewers, so it's a good way to pick up a summer month and you need to be on several proposals for one to hit. If he's on a research appt, that'd be tougher. Of course, if he's tenured, there's always the admin route, or going out on the market (there are a lot of privates picking up faculty from seriously underfunded state institutions).

Google journal editing and look for the company headquartered here in RTP (Durham zip, I think). They love guys like him and if he's not having to publish beyond what he cares about (meaning, he's not angling for RPT), then he could pick up a lot of bedtime editing work to knock out those monthly student loan payments.

Good luck!

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