American scientists warn that diminished federal funding threatens the future of science in the United States, according to a report being issued today by the nation's largest science organization.
A survey of 250 top scientists at 50 universities found that fewer students are pursuing academic research careers, older scientists are dropping out and laboratories are becoming antiquated because of chronic funding shortages.
The report "raises serious questions about the very future of science in the United States," said physicist Leon M. Lederman, a Nobel laureate and president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an organization of 130,000 scientists and educators.
Lederman was to meet with top policy makers today at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington to discuss possible solutions to this problem, including special government bonds dedicated to funding research.
Albert Teich, director of science and policy programs at AAAS, said federal expenditures for scientific research at universities had increased only slightly over the last 23 years when inflation was taken into account. Competing federal priorities and the growth in the federal deficit have prevented the expansion of research funding.
Alan F. Horwitz, a biologist at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said, "Our senior faculty are demoralized and our junior faculty are jumping ship. Undergraduate and graduate students are turning away from science at a time when we need them most."