Politics and Funding

Being as I am, for the time being, self funded, the delights of writing proposals and trying to acquire funding is one particular quagmire I have yet to dip my toes into. Frankly, it makes me a little uneasy with all of the nonsense that’s been going on with the research councils recently.

Not wanting to rant about the situation, but as a new postgraduate researcher, I think I’m allowed to. Short of getting a collaborator from America, Canada, Australia or any of the other countries still funding them, I’m probably never going to get to use the Gemini telescopes. At least not while I’m working in this country. Sickeningly, the STFC, in trying to save their precious £80 million have effectively wasted the £70 million already invested in Gemini. Seriously, that’s ridiculous.

I’ve been thinking about this lately. This started as a reply to a comment, but I thought it was worth upgrading into a proper entry. Prior to the STFC forming last year, PPARC (the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council) had no financial problems, and while they were concerned about meeting their expected budget there were no major gaps forseen. Then PPARC merged with CCLRC (the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils). To be honest I don’t know much about what the CCLRC used to do. Some space stuff, laser technology and biomolecular science, amongst others I think. Curiously, since then a mysterious £80 million budget hole appeared and the new council have decided to make all of the cuts in projects formerly managed by PPARC. Curiouser and curiouser, I’m sure you’ll agree…

I know it’s been said that had PPARC forseen these events, they would never have agreed to the merge. The conspiracy theorist in me almost wonders if they even had a choice? Frankly, it almost seems like someone staged a coup!

Still, comfortingly, all isn’t lost for me, at least career wise. One of my office mates mentioned the other day that he’s actually funded by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council). The benefits of being an astrochemist, funding wise, seem all too apparent as an astrochemist is still a chemist. Thank the universe for interdisciplinary fields!

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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