US Science gets that CA$H Money

During the holiday hoopla here in the States, an exciting outcome came from Congress. The National Science Foundation, NASA, and other government research budgets were mostly unscathed. Many of us in academia grabbed an extra libation to celebrate once President Obama signed off on the bill.

Agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) all received small increases. Despite NASA’s budget being cut severely resulting from the discontinuance of the space shuttle program, many of its other initiatives are being properly funded with this bill including the James Webb Space Telescope.

The NSF budget saw an unexpected increase of $200 million dollars bringing the total to slightly over $7 billion. The agency will still have to be cautious, but expects to be able to fund many of its existing research commitments. Also, they do not expect to significantly alter the grant acceptance rate.

While this outcome is an unanticipated, small victory for research science in the US. We must remain cautious about the future, especially due to the upcoming election year.

Also, let me ask the Skepchick science community: How is the research funding situation in other countries? Have you seen drawbacks or increases?

Nature 479, 455–456 (24 November 2011)


Jacqueline, a true Floridian, wandered up to the tundra of Athens, Georgia to receive her PhD in computational quantum chemistry. Returning to her roots, she is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in Tampa in the field of computational biochemistry investigating the wonders of penicillin-like drugs. When she is not slaving over the computer, her varied interests include international travel, Brazilian jiu jitsu, kickboxing, fancy food, (American) football, and Belgian quadrupels. She is also the founder of, a football blog with an exclusive female writing staff. Check out her sports ramblings there or follow her on Twitter @jhargis9.

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  1. Recently some cuts to the Aussie budget were announced – cuts to the federal public service, but not research as such AFAIK.

    Just as well cos govt research funding is minimal to start with. One oft quoted factoid is that the new parliament house cost more than the whole National Health and Medical Research Council budget – in the whole 50 years of its existence!

    Sport, OTOH, is a sacred cow!

  2. The situation in Canada seems to be poor, but not quite bad. New government funding hasn’t been coming since a brief surge during the recession, but existing sources haven’t been going away. Of course, inflation means that the current sources will gradually become worth less, but it’s more of a slow decline.

    Though I’ll add the caveat that I work in astrophysics, which has a lot more international cooperation than other fields (mostly due to the need for special locations for telescopes). Other fields may be feeling the cuts more acutely, so anyone with experience there, feel free to chime in and correct me if need be.

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