Posts Tagged ‘research funding’

New Study: Funding Science is Good for the US Economy

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-04-2014

University research is a key component of the US economic ecosystem, returning the investment through enormous public value and impact on employment, business, and manufacturing nationwide.

Using new data available to examine the short-term economic activity generated by science funding, researchers have for the first time been able to illuminate the breadth of the scientific workforce and the national impact of the research supply chain that is funded by federal grants.

Most of the workers supported by federal research funding are not university faculty members. In fact, fewer than one in five workers supported by federal funding are faculty researchers. The study, published this week in the journal Science, provides the first detailed information about the short-term economic impacts of federal research spending, the researchers said.

Using a new data set, the researchers also found that each university that receives funding spends those dollars throughout the United States – about 70 percent spent outside their home states – supporting companies both large and small.

The researchers conclude that federal funding has a wider impact than is often assumed. “The process of scientific research supports organizations and jobs in many of the high skill sectors of our economy,” the researchers wrote in Science.

The study was conducted by researchers from the American Institute of Research, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, University of Michigan, University of Chicago, and the Ohio State University. The data came from the STAR METRICS project, which is a partnership between federal science agencies and research institutions to document the outcomes of science investments to the public.

In this study, the researchers examined STAR METRICS data from nine universities – Michigan, Wisconsin-Madison, Minnesota, Ohio State, Northwestern, Purdue, Michigan State, Chicago and Indiana (all members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation consortium).

The universities in this study received about $7 billion in total research and development funding in 2012, and about 56 percent of that came from the federal government.

One key insight from the study was whose jobs were supported by federal funding. “Workers with many different skill levels are employed, and these are not primarily faculty,” the authors said.

Faculty members accounted for fewer than 20 percent of the people supported by federal funding. About one in three workers is either a graduate student or an undergraduate. One in three is either research staff or a staff scientist, and about one in ten is a post-doctoral fellow.

The study also sheds light on where universities spend the federal funding they receive. In 2012, almost $1 billion of research expenditures were spent with U.S. vendors and subcontractors.

Of those expenditures, 15 percent went to vendors in the university’s home county, 15 percent in the rest of the home state and the balance to vendors across the United States.

The researchers noted that universities bought goods and services from a wide range of contractors in a variety of industries: everything from test tubes to telescopes and microscopes to gene sequencing machines.

Many of the purchases came from large U.S companies. But as the researchers examined the websites of some of the tens of thousands of vendors, “we were struck by how many are small, niche, high-technology companies…” they wrote.

Noting the scope of the impact of scientific work being done across universities, co-author Roy Weiss, Deputy Provost for Research at the University of Chicago, said, “Research universities are dedicated to the discovery of new knowledge. This study reports the first cooperative endeavor by multiple universities to evaluate the benefit of government investment in research. In addition to making the world a better place by virtue of these discoveries, we now have data to support the overall benefits to society.”

“The main purpose of science funding isn’t as a jobs or stimulus program, but this study shows there are also major short-term economic benefits to science funding,” said Bruce Weinberg, co-author and professor of economics at Ohio State.

As Julia Lane, Senior Managing Economist at the American Institutes for Research and a lead researcher on the project, summarized, “This study provides evidence that while science is complicated, it is not magic. It is productive work. Scientific endeavors employ people. They use capital inputs. Related economic activity occurs immediately. Policy makers need to have an understanding of how science is produced when making resource allocation decisions, and this study provides that information in a reliable and current fashion.”

Thanks to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation for contributing this story.

Ten commandments for becoming a successful scientist

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 07-25-2013

In previous posts we covered 8 metrics to define scientific success and a full length video of Darren Griffin’s ten commandments for becoming a successful scientist. In the post below, we’ve written out these comandments for those readers who may not have 54 minutes to spare watching the full talk.

  1. There is only one way to do good research: get on with it!
  2. When opportunity knocks, open the door
  3. Build a team of people that are better than you are
  4. It’s not about your knowledge. It’s about your imagination, ideas and talented friends
  5. Always bring something to the party when collaborating (don’t forget it’s “give and take”)
  6. It’s not the size of your gun-it’s when you shoot. Timing is everything.
  7. If the systen doesn’t work for you-change it, do something else, or don’t complain! Nobody likes a winer
  8. Don’t ask why. Ask why not. How can you improve? Don’t take no for an answer right away when your grant or paper is rejected. Every no is one step closer to a yes! Learn how to turn rejection into an opportunity.
  9. The journey is often far more rewarding than the destination.
  10. Be nice to people! What goes around comes around.

What are your thoughts about Griffin’s commandments?

Don’t Judge Me-I’m a Scientist!

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 07-10-2013

Everyone wants to be successful. Whether it is in school, in our relationships or in our career, success is a key motivator of personal behavior. In order to define success, one must be judged. After all, how is it possible to measure one’s level of success without passing judgement.

As scientists, success, and therefore evaluation and judgement form the cornerstone of our careers. Levels of funding and promotion are often based on measurements of success as well as professional respect and the feeling of self worth. For example, several weeks ago we wrote about the problems associated with the infamous journal impact factor. The JIF, as it is affectionately known, ranks journals by their importance and publications in high impact journals are often used as a method of evaluating the performance of individual scientist. One reader commented that the JIF had been used to promote a colleague who, on the surface, seemed less promotion-worthy than his better-funded peer based on the misuse of the JIF as a metric of success.

How the American scientific community defines success, will definitely determine the future of scientific America. Everyone wants to be successful. Tell me what the definition of success is and I will do everything in my power to acheive it. That is what’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So how do we define success? How do we want to be judged? Below is a list of ideas that I heard from a recent talk given by a scientist from the world of chemistry.

Scientists are judged based on their:

  • Money
  • Publication
  • Successful completion of graduate students
  • Industrial Links
  • Scientific Impact (think JIF or citations)
  • Student Reviews
  • Administrative Leadership
  • Academic Ranking (i.e. professor versus associate)

While this is not an exhaustive list, it is certainly a good start. If we want a strong scientific America, we need noble metrics of scientific success.

How do you define scientific success? What are your career goals?

Is a financial crisis in the cards for American scientists?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-23-2011

GenomeWeb Daily News is reporting that a dozen Congressional leaders tasked with striking a bipartisan agreement to cut the federal deficit said yesterday that they have failed to reach a deal, and that failure would now trigger a plan that would, if enacted, cut research funding across the government by nearly 8 percent.

What impact do you believe this might have on your research activities?

Click here to read more.

Sure to be BEST science film of all time!

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 09-06-2011

I am very psyched for the PHD movie! Does that make me a huge nerd or nostalgic for my days as a graduate student? The trailer has definitely captured my attention. Are you attending a screening. First round of showings are next week!

Checkout PHDcomics.com/movie for show times.

PHD Movie Trailer from PHD Comics on Vimeo.