Some Underfunded U.S. Scientists Give Up, Research Abroad Instead

For decades, the United States has been at the forefront of scientific discovery. Unfortunately, however, the nation looks poised to lose its status as one of the world’s best innovators. As RawStory reports, not only has funding for the sciences taken a major dive, but now, nearly 20% of American scientists admit they are considering moving to another nation that could cover their research expenses.

Scientific research is of immeasurable importance, allowing us to make informed decisions about health, energy and the environment. Nonetheless, the United States is the only major power to have decreased its percentage of spending on science. Shamefully, it looks like we might lose some of the country’s most brilliant minds simply because we no longer prioritize funding them.

The survey of 3,700 American scientists finds that the economy has greatly impacted their field. Over half of the respondents said that either they or a colleague has lost their job due to a lack of finances. For many scientists, moving would be less of a choice and more of a necessity in order to continue researching.

When people cry for a smaller government and that the private sector will take care of our needs, they’re obviously not considering scientific research. Most scientific research in this country is reliant on federal money, and after many budgetary slashes, that money is dwindling.

In fact, most major government agencies that award money to researchers have had their own budgets decrease by 20-30%. As a result, NASA, the Department of Energy, the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation can no longer fund as many grants as they once did.

The deficit has left American scientists scrambling. 80% of them acknowledge that they now write more grants than they did in recent years, though the results are not as fruitful. In the end, two-thirds of the researchers also say they are receiving less money than they did previously even with the increased grant writing.

Young scientists are also getting shafted. More than half of scientists say they’ve had to turn down “promising” young researchers due to budgetary restrictions, leaving these recent grads out of the laboratories altogether. In many cases, the government has invested $200,000+ in these young adults in the form of college scholarships with the idea that they will give back to the country with their scientific pursuits after graduating. Ultimately, however, without jobs or facilities for these emerging scientific minds to work, that investment goes wasted.

It’s no secret that science has come under attack in Congress. Be it global warming, evolution or matters of women’s health, some politicians aren’t interested in allowing scientific evidence to stand in the way of their unsubstantiated beliefs. Still, just because scientific discovery is “controversial” to some, that’s no reason to abandon it altogether.

This nation will need scientific inquiry to battle the next life-threatening disease, help handle the impending energy crisis and better understand how to take care of our planet. Allowing our researchers to go jobless or even move away could prove to be way more costly than if we funded their efforts currently.

94 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven15 days ago

thanks for the article.

Ellen Gaston
Ellen Gaston2 years ago

It is well-known that animals are systematically and unnecessarily tortured and abused for the sole purpose of keeping grant money flowing in. It is a sham. Tax dollars being wasted so a junk scientist industry can be artificially propped up is not going to improve our status as scientific groundbreakers. But hey, if blaming Republicans makes you and your choir feel better...

Margaret Goodman
Margaret Goodman2 years ago

Someone wrote that science is messy.

Basic research is especially messy. It often leads to dead ends. That's why private corporations are not interested in it.

But basic research is necessary. It leads to our learning how the universe works.

From what I've observed, the 1968 election of Richard Nixon started the process of taking the United States to the status of a third world country. Scientists started complaining at about that time that basic research was being underfunded.

The Ronald Reagan revolution hastened the process, and the George W. Bush years have moved us so fast in the wrong dirction that it will be very difficult to reverse the trend. And now we see that even applied research is being cut.

Europe and the UK used to complain about their "brain drain" to us. My guess is that they're getting some of their "brains" back, thanks to our mindless behavior of cutting taxes on the rich and of spending cuts.

Cathleen K.
Cathleen K.2 years ago

This is what is meant by the phrase "eating your seed corn". On the bright side, as we continue to defund research, the right wingers are going to have to come up with another line of reasoning as to why science has formed a consensus on climate change - it becomes difficult to charge that scientists are claiming that human influenced climate change is going to be bad to keep that sweet grant money flowing when you've already turned off the tap.

Donna Ferguson
Donna F.2 years ago

this science and medical brain drain that leaves the U.S. and sets up shop in other country--very terrible! these other countries get the benefit of the medical research and discoveries, as well as other scientific research and discoveries. very terrible!

janice b.
jan b.2 years ago

Bit by bit the GOP ---low or no taxes for the rich and their corporations are destroying our countries prospect for progress due to not having enough money to FUND the things even vital to our well being.
We have remained stale in wages, stale in education, jobs..... and gone backwards in many many instances.

Heidi R.
Past Member 2 years ago

80% of them acknowledge that they now write more grants than they did in recent years, though the results are not as fruitful. In the end, two-thirds of the researchers also say they are receiving less money than they did previously even with the increased grant writing.

So where is the money going? And which countries are these scientists going to? I couldn't seem to find this information.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Tim A V.
Tim A V.2 years ago

The funny part to this (Dark/Black Humor) is that the programs getting funding cut are the ones that tend to develop the new technologies that big business emulates and reproduces for profit in the public sector.

So Scientists go to work for another country, that country owns the patent on these new developments, country sells rights to a native company for mass productions and American businesses lose money to foreign company with Ex-Pat American know how.