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US Science Laureate bill derailed

You may not be aware of it, but the US has an official poet. Named by the Librarian of Congress, the Poet Laureate is meant to increase the public’s appreciation of poetry and the arts in general. Inspired by this example, a bipartisan group of Representatives introduced a bill that would create a Science Laureate to indicate to the US public the value placed on science. Unfortunately, that plan has…

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More cuts loom for US science

Laura Niedernhofer is counting her pennies. The mid-career molecular biologist moved last year to the Scripps Research Institute’s campus in Jupiter, Florida — a risky decision that saw her building a new laboratory group at a time when the US government was cutting its support for science. In June, Niedernhofer abandoned one of her main lines of research — reducing the toxicity of cancer drugs — after the National Institutes…

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Pure hype of pure research helps no one

What do you get when you cross science hype with conservative politics? The answer is the High Quality Research Act, a draft bill that would require the director of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to certify the quality of every science project that the agency funds with its roughly US$5.6-billion research budget. The proposed legislation was drawn up last month by Lamar Smith (Republican, Texas), the new chairman of…

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Rallying to the defense of political science, eventually

First, a full confession: I’ve never really been a big fan of political science. I love politics and have worked in politics, but as an undergraduate I double-majored in astronomy (i.e., real science) and history (i.e., real historical research). My recollection is that historians in particular took a pretty dim view of political science back then. While historians went to great lengths to research, investigate, and write carefully and thoughtfully…

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