Like the rest of the US, scientists are looking to see what piece of the stimulus package we’ll get. Under recent administration policies science funding has stagnated. When Obama mentioned science in his inaugural address scientists across the US cheered. Now that the new HUGE stimulus package is appearing, what does it really mean for science? Until a bill passes not much, but here’s what may be coming.
Two of the major sources of grant funding for academia, the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) could each be receiving around $3 billion. The Department of Energy and the Department of Defense (Biodefense) may receive $40 billion and $900 million, respectively. Other science related agencies may also receive additional funding.
So what does it all mean? Well, first the bill will have to be passed. After that happens, hopefully we’ll begin to see the funding distributed. Additional funding means more scientists and more discoveries. This will benefit the general public in a number of ways. Some of the effects will be immediate, like more jobs generated, both for scientists, and for those people that build equipment and consumables that scientists use. Some discoveries will have an effect over the next few years, like those associated with green technology. Other benefits will not be felt for years to come, since the drug discovery process takes years. Other effects will be less tangible but no less important. More money will hopefully encourage more Americans to become scientists, which will help America maintain her place as a world leader in science and innovation.
No matter what happens with the stimulus, more money for science benefits everyone.
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Photo provided by Steve Wampler.