congress and science funding

In the latest battle in the war on science, the Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology has asked the NSF to explain the peer review process that lead to five grant applications being funded.

This time the attack hits a little closer to home for sociologists. Although the focus seems to be cultural anthropology, as four of the five grants received at least part of their funding from that program, two of the five PIs are sociologists. The Directory of the NSF is being asked to defend awards given to Michael Macy (Cornell) and Linda Kalof (Michigan State).

The lead Democrat on the committee, Representative Johnson, has penned a pretty militant letter in favor of NSF autonomy, and is asking Representative Smith to withdraw his request. (h/t to @howardaldrich for the two letters.)


  1. Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Macy just gave a talk at NU last week. Seems like of various things NSF could be asked to defend, that kind of network research would be a relatively straightforward sell. That said, it looks like one of the projects they went after for having a bad-optics-title and the other four are because their relevance to the US could be questioned.


    • Posted May 6, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Looking quickly at the grants, I agree completely with your assesment. I can’t figure out why they Smith is going after the Macy grant.

      Even at a quick glance, it looks like broadly relevant and interesting work by a well published and respected academic.


  2. Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Yikes and double-yikes! That is chilling. Let’s write some letters.


  3. Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    If his LinkedIn page is accurate, one of the Congressional staffers responsible for this letter is a computational biologist who is the author of the NIH funded paper, “Multiscale complexity in the mammalian circadian clock.” Perhaps he was already familiar with Michael Macy from his paper in Science on circadian rhythms.


    • Posted April 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Talk about stifling the scientific process. I do not like your conclusions, I will go after you with the power of a Congressional committee. (To be fair, I don’t know if it is academic rivalry that led to this.)



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