UW researchers concerned over federal budget cuts

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by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 12:29 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 5 at 7:55 AM

Researchers at the University of Washington expressed concern Monday over federal funding cuts, known as sequestration, and the impact on the university's large research community.

The campus gets $1.5 billion in federal grant money every year. That's more than any public university in the nation.

“What’s going to happen now is it’s going to get tighter and tighter,” said Vice Provost for Research Mary Lidstrom.

Lidstrom said only 1-in-10 grant proposals gets approved. With federal funding getting tighter, those sources of research dollars are expected to be trimmed significantly, although Lidstrom is not sure by how much, yet.

“We’re now almost halfway through the fiscal year,” said UW physics professor Dr. Henry Lubatti, “If a federal agency hasn’t planned for (sequestration) now, the budget cut will be gargantuan.”

One of Dr. Lubatti’s graduate students, Heather Russell, is trying to continue her studies in Geneva, Switzerland at the Large Hadron Collider, a project at the forefront of physics investigation. However, sequestration cuts could jeopardize her goal and her career.

“I started full well knowing that the money did not exist to support me,” Russell explained, “(Dr. Lubatti) told me we really didn’t have the money to support you.”

So, instead of focusing on universal quests, Dr. Lubatti and Russell are trying to find funds to push their studies forward. Broadly, researchers on campus said they were not sure when the full effect of sequestration would hit. However, grants are already harder to attain.

“We know that it has kicked in,” Dr. Lubatti said, “It will be some time before our funding agent decides how to deal with this."

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