Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sequestering the Future of Young Scientists

A recent editorial in NATURE described the many negative effects of the sequester and other budget cuts on the state of US science.  Among the immediate public effects are reductions in NOAA weather monitoring just prior to hurricane season and in USGS monitoring of snowpack (and thus water supply) in the west.

However, in the long term, the most damaging aspect of the recent science budget cuts may be their effect on career choices by talented young people. Discouraging prospects for research funding and for career advancement will lead bright, internet savvy young folks away from science and technology and into other fields. Even among those who choose to go to graduate school in a science field, many young people are now projecting non-research careers in industry rather than considering academic research. This country has already suffered immensely by having some of its brightest minds seduced by the high payoffs of non-productive financial hocus-pocus on Wall Street rather than pursuing jobs in science, engineering or medicine. The current budget restraints will just compound this trend. 

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