Report Ties The American Dream To Research Funding

Dec 8, 2014

The United States has long been known as a leader in technology and innovation.   But a new report warns that won’t continue if cuts to federal research funding continue. 

An operator runs a mining car on the 4850 level during construction of the Sanford Lab at Homestake. Scientists say it's not just large projects like the Sanford Lab that need sustained federal funding for research.

Dr. Neil Lane is an author of the report and the former Director of the National Science Foundation.  He says industry is good at researching the kinds of questions that may lead to new products and profits.   But he says industry is reluctant to fund more basic research–on topics that don’t have a direct economic benefit.   He points to the internet as one example of a technology that came from federal investment into basic research made years ago.

“That whole information technology revolution would not have been there without fundamental investment by the federal government in early ideas of computing and fiber optics and everything else that has been so important,” says Lane.

Lane says basic research funding is needed for all fields, from astrophysics, to engineering and environmental science.  He adds that the United States is falling behind not only in research funding–but also science and math education.

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