Bad funding news for future and current graduate students pursuing science and engineering research.
In a Chronicle of Higher Education survey of over 11,000 scientists who had received grant funding from either the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF), due to lack of funding more than half of the respondents had abandoned an area of investigation central to their lab's mission and more than three-quarters had reduced their recruitment of graduate students and research fellows.
In the article, "Strapped Scientists Abandon Research and Students," Paul Basken and Paul Voosen report that based on the Chronicle survey "for better or worse, the nation’s scientists have embarked on an unequivocal downsizing of their capability to perform basic investigative research."
It's not only research and students that are affected, but full-time research positions have been reduced as well. According to the National Science Board (the NSF’s governing authority), fewer than 75 percent of people holding science and engineering doctorate degrees are being employed in academia in full-time faculty positions. This is down from 90 percent in the 1970s.
However, there is hope. Michael S. Teitelbaum, in his new book "Falling Behind? Boom, Bust, and the Global Race for Scientific Talent," argues that the current downturn in science funding is merely the fifth alarm-boom-bust cycle since the late 1940s. Such downturns eventually lead to fears of shortages, which lead to interventions in the forms of money and visas, which is later followed by another bust as interest wanes.
For more on the survey and how reduced funding is affecting research, read Basken and Voosen's full article.