Although the US government is funded again and back open, the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester are still in place and are still hampering scientific research, reports NPR's Geoff Brumfiel.
On All Things Considered, Brumfiel says that, for example, the budget for Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee — home to the supercomputer Titan — is down some 7 percent, or $100 million. Titan, Brumfiel notes, enables a variety of research from the geological to the medical. For example, Sally Ellingson, a University of Tennessee graduate student, is using the supercomputer to screen for drugs.
Ellingson has also recently applied for a grant to continue those studies, but as Brumfiel adds, grant funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health have also experienced cuts, making funding more and more difficult to come by.
While Ellingson's boss Jeremy Smith says that she'll find a job, he worries that it might not be in research because of such funding difficulties. "She'll have no problem getting a job, but the risk has increased now that [the job she gets] will not be inventing the new medicines and products that will drive the economy in the future," Smith tells Brumfiel.