Will private funding fill the expected shortfall in research support?
Finding the money for scientific research used to be a lot more straightforward: people got it from people they knew. In the 1870s, when Alexander Graham Bell needed money to develop his “harmonic telegraph,” he got much of it from the wealthy father of one of his students, 16-year-old Mabel Hubbard. Bell and Hubbard would eventually marry. Bell, who was at the time a professor of vocal physiology and elocution at Boston University’s School of Oratory, even borrowed money from his (famous) assistant, Thomas Watson.
Throughout the ages, science has moved forward with boosts from many well-heeled patrons, from monarchs to millionaires. Galileo’s heretical revelation that the Earth revolves around the sun would have been unlikely if not for his education at the University of Pisa, which was founded by Pope Clement VI, remembered even today as a devoted patron of the arts and learning. Four centuries after Clement, German universities adopted the notion that it was the academy’s responsibility to advance the understanding of science, a conviction that we take for granted today. We also think that the government should pay for university research—and it does pay for the vast majority of it. But since government funding flatlined several years ago, scientists at colleges and universities across the country are worried, very worried, not just about their research, but about the future of science in America.
Generally, according to a recent survey, private funding provides 38% of basic research funding. If, as has been suggested by the current administration, research support provided by federal agencies is cut by up to 40%, what sources will be able to pick up the funding deficit to insure the U. S. does not fall further behind in the need to stay at the top in scientific research. At the moment, there is no source that is likely to step into that gap when and if it occurs.
Associate Professor of Physics Xuemei Cheng has received an award of $50,104 from The National Science Foundation for her collaborative work with the University of Pennsylvania on a Science and Technology Center for Mechano-Biology.
Director of Field Education in the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research Beth Lewis was notified of an award of $10,000 from the Council on Social Work Education for her training project for “Policy Practice in Field Education”
Professor of Social Work and Social Research Julia Littell has been awarded $15,000 by the Norwegian Institute to support her collaborative efforts with them on Provision of Educational Services.