Unlimited Potential, Vanishing Opportunity highlights the data gathered from a survey of over 3,700 scientists from all fields of research. The survey was conducted by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and 15 partner organizations during the summer. This report chronicles the effects of federal budget cuts on the American research enterprise from the perspective of the individual scientist. The release of the report is also the subject of a story by Sam Stein in the Huffington Post.
In a news release, ASBMB Public Affairs Director Benjamin Corb said, “For the first time, we are able to definitively tell the story of the federally funded scientist. The data show that deep cuts to federal investments in research are tearing at the fabric of the nation’s scientific enterprise while having a minimal impact on overcoming our national debt and deficit problems.”
The data paint a grim picture for scientists conducting federally funded research. 80 percent of survey respondents report spending more time writing grants now than in 2010, but 67 percent of respondents are receiving less grant money than in 2010. Nearly half of all respondents have laid off researchers or expect to soon, while 55 percent have a colleague who has lost his/her job or will soon.
The report also features some poignant quotes from scientists discussing how federally funded research produces technological benefits, creates high-paying jobs, protects federal investments and maintains U.S. global research leadership. From physicists talking about job losses and geophysicists talking about missed education opportunities to biologists concerned about finding funding to further crucial disease research, scientists from all fields shared their concerns about the future of American science under tight funding conditions.
“This damage won’t be measured just in the number of scientists laid off from labs today, but in the wait for breakthroughs in alternative energy, technology development and cures for disease,” said Corb. “Our report paints a clear picture of the importance of scientific research to American society, and why Congress should act now to overturn sequestration and return to a policy of a strong, sustained investment in science.”
However, the outlook is not entirely bleak. Despite the adversity confronting scientists, only 5 percent of respondents indicated they were considering abandoning science careers. This indicates that, despite the adversity confronting scientists, 95 percent are enthusiastic about continuing careers in science.
Survey respondents hailed from every state in the nation, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. Nearly every scientific field was represented including biology, chemistry, physics, geosciences, engineering, mathematics, economics, computer science, education, political science and social and behavioral sciences. An electronic version of Unlimited Potential, Vanishing Opportunity can be found on the ASBMB website. For a hard copy, contact Benjamin Corb by email or by calling 240.283.6625.