Friday, February 1, 2013

Long term federal funding and career development for young scientists.

An interesting article in C&EN News discusses attempts to secure multi-year funding for science as opposed to the current system of annual congressional appropriations. This has been a dream of many scientists for years, and such stability would no doubt enhance scientific productivity in the US. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology (PCAST) has now come out strongly in favor of the multi-year approach, but whether this will influence Congress to relax its hold on the purse strings is in doubt. One aspect of this that isn’t much discussed is the potential impact on the careers of young scientists. One of the most difficult aspects of career development in research institutions is the enormous uncertainty about grant funding. When NIH or NSF funding levels wobble a few percentage points from year to year it can be a career breaker for early stage scientists. While multi-year funding wont reduce the intense competition for grants, at least it would make the process more predictable and allow better career planning.  

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