Stimulus: science

The University expects a slice of the roughly $20 billion allocated for research and development.

The stimulus bill contains more than $20 billion for research and development, and the University expects to see some of that money, which will be funneled through federal agencies. Those agencies, like the National Institutes of Health , which will get $10.4 billion, the National Science Foundation ($3 billion), the Department of Energy ($2 billion) and NASA ($1 billion), have yet to announce exactly how theyâÄôre going to spend the money. University administrators say they expect some stimulus money to fund existing grant proposals and are waiting for agencies to issue requests for stimulus money proposals. The bill also allocates money specifically for research infrastructure. Institute of Technology Associate Dean for Research and Planning Mostafa Kaveh said the $3 billion allocation for NSF impacts colleges like IT âÄúin a big way.âÄù He said he hopes it will fund more of the proposals researchers have already submitted. In the recent past, the funding success rates at the NSF and NIH have been low, he said, which means high-quality proposals were not being funded. âÄúThis presumably makes the success rate much more favorable,âÄù he said, at least in the short term. Physics professor Marvin Marshak has submitted two proposals he hopes the stimulus can help fund. One is a DOE proposal for a neutrino project that aims to build a new lab in northern Minnesota. The project is already getting DOE funding, but Marshak said it will be expedited if it gets the $30 million to $40 million worth of stimulus money heâÄôs hoping for. NASAâÄôs share of the money is to be used for science, aeronautics and exploration. The University, especially the physics and aerospace department, already received money from NASAâÄôs science and aeronautics areas, aerospace professor Bill Garrard said. The stimulus money is most likely to affect the University by increasing the amount of grant money available in science and aeronautics, he said. But heâÄôs also hoping NASA chooses to use some of the money on the Minnesota Space Grant, a NASA-funded program that supports aerospace education. Academic Health Center Vice President for Research Mark Paller said the center is also likely to benefit from the NIHâÄôs $10.4 billion allocation. Although it hasnâÄôt said how it will award stimulus money, Paller said the NIH does want researchers to spend it within two years. NIH grants normally fund three to five years of research. In a teleconference Wednesday, NIH acting director Raynard Kington described some general aspects of how the money will be used, according to a memo by Vice President for Research Tim Mulcahy posted on his officeâÄôs website. It states NIH research money will be divided into three broad categories: proposals already submitted, a new grant program and projects to speed up currently supported research. It notes that no funds will be used to restore cuts to existing programs. When it does solicit new proposals for stimulus money, Paller said he expects the application and decision processes to be faster than usual. Though a boon to research in the short term, Paller said the stimulus isnâÄôt a long-term solution for research funding shortages. âÄúThis is one-time money and it doesnâÄôt affect the recurring budget of the NIH,âÄù he said.