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OccupyScience: More evidence that the bottom is falling out of research

 

Brandy Cross, brain the size of a small planet, no job in sight

Lambert and ralphb pointed me to a blog post, Hungry for Jobs and Change, Scientists Join the Occupy Movement in Scientific American reporting on the growing number of scientists at occupy events.  We’re always the ones that fly under the radar of the politicians and policy wonks so it is significant that we’re finally becoming visible.  Here are some of the money quotes:

Brandie Cross held the sign. She is in the 5th year of a PhD program in biochemistry at The Johns Hopkins University. Her specialty is breast cancer, a traditionally well-funded specialty. But she’s sure her job prospects are dim. “I’d like to start my own biotech company. I have tons of inventions, and I want to be funded by NIH. But there’s no money.”

I also spoke with Dr. Troy Rubin, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins who also showed up at the protest, and I heard a different angle; Rubin was more worried about the long-term future of America. I asked him why he was participating and he said, “We live in a society where wisdom is less appreciated than money. An economically driven society is fundamentally unsustainable.”

And scientists have certainly had much cause to protest during the last decade. With the sidelining of the American Competes act, the failure of Congress to pass climate change legislation, and the nationwide crisis afflicting science, technology and math (STEM) education, many of us are feeling helpless and angry, not just Cross and Rubin.

As one of the people in the accompanying video says, it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have, we don’t fund science in this country anymore.  Too true.  Well, there’s just no immediate profit in it.  Just ask any Wall Street analyst.  If you can’t get your research to pay off in the next quarter, what good are you??  If you are a labrat going to an occupy event, wear your labcoat and goggles so we can recognize each other.

The video that accompanies the post starts with “Scientists aren’t mad, we’re PISSED!”.  That is an understatement.  Unfortunately, the video ends with a plug for a book.  That kind of dilutes the message.  Just sayin’.