I’m no stranger to political action, and I went to Washington because as a scientist and a citizen, I have some grievances to redress. Cuts to scientific work is a major issue not just for our field, but for the country as a whole.
As researchers, we generate a public benefit, both for scientific knowledge and for health care. Our leadership in science and technology is one of our nation’s greatest strengths. But if we want to maintain that position, if we want to keep generating ideas and research and moving our economy forward, we’ve got to put our money where our mouth is. Grant support has been shrinking for many years, and we can’t afford to lose any more.
Funding cuts debilitate science, both immediately and in the long term. Immediately, you lose the existing scientific workforce. Long-term, you create an impoverished scientific pipeline.
It concerns me that I hear about people getting laid off, people going part-time, people leaving the field, labs shrinking and closing down. Those people are going to have to find other work. But where? Industry will not absorb us. That’s not their mission, and industry faces cuts, too. I went to the rally because as another body, I took up a little more space in the crowd. I want politicians to see that scientists—people who normally stay out of politics—are speaking up. If these cuts don’t light a fire under us, I don’t know what will.