By Laura Morrison, April 2014
Funding plays an integral role in much of the research students conduct over the course of their doctoral studies. This is especially true of individuals who plan to work in scientific fields after finishing graduate school. Unfortunately, money for research is not always readably available, which can put potential breakthroughs on hold.
As the U.S. is deeply in debt, government officials are constantly searching for ways to cut costs. This often extends to the amount of money put toward research. For this reason, Americans - and especially those who have their sights set on conducting research in graduate school - may want to be more mindful of the men and women they send to Washington, D.C. The wrong candidate could be endangering their future.
Do your research
When you vote, how aware are you of candidates' positions on key issues? New data from Research!America reveals that while many Americans value studies, not a lot of them are as informed about politicians' views on funding them.
Poll data revealed that 66 percent of Americans believe it's important for political candidates to make medical research a high priority. Despite this high percentage, only 12 percent of respondents said they are aware of their senators' and representatives' level of support for medical and scientific research.
"Candidates must do a better job articulating their vision for medical progress, clarifying what level of priority they assign to research as a way to assure improved health, well-being and economic security of all Americans," said Mary Woolley, Research!America's president and CEO. "Voters need to know whether their candidates view lifesaving medical research as an imperative or an afterthought."
Research!America's poll also revealed that 75 percent of Americans believe that directing funding toward research plays a role in the economic recovery and job creation.
If government funding for graduate school research is important to you, voting isn't the only way you can share your views. You can take action similar to that of a group of graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania.
According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, the Science Policy Group, which is comprised of students from different fields, recently visited Capitol Hill to lobby for the passage of a bill designed to increase funding for the National Institute of Health.
"I have witnessed how flat funding of the NIH has been impacting the labs here," student Shaun O'Brien told the news source. "I've seen labs that are struggling in terms of the ability to keep staff."
Rather than standing by while these types of changes take place, O'Brien and his fellow graduate students are doing what they can to turn things around. Of course, the first step toward action is being more informed.