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Sequestration Tally

Research programs at US universities are feeling the pinch of the sequestration of federal agencies' budgets, according to a new survey.

Now more than half a year into the policy that slashed federal agency budgets and research funding by around 5 percent, public and private universities have seen trimmed-down grants begin to slow down their research programs, ScienceInsider says.

The sequestration has reduced federal grants and delayed research at 70 percent of a group of 74 respondents to the survey of 171 members of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public Land-grant Universities.

Around 24 percent of these respondents say they have seen a decline in the number of postdoctoral fellows, while 22 percent say they have had to reduce the number of their permanent staff members. Thirty-one percent of the respondents have been able to support fewer student positions, and 30 percent have had to reduce temporary or part-time staff posts.

"The survey shows that sequestration is already eroding America's research capabilities at universities across the country," say the AAU, APLU, and The Science Coalition, a group that advocates for research funding.

Huffington Post's Sam Stein, who has regularly chronicled the sequestration's impact on research, covered the release of the study from a press conference this week in Washington, DC, which generated some gory details on the kinds of cuts some major US universities have seen.

For example, UCLA has estimated that it has lost $50 million, mostly due to uncertainty or cuts in multi-year grants, the school's Chancellor, Gene Block says. One of his big concerns about the anemic funding environment is brain drain.

"We are beginning to see China advertising," Block says. "We are hearing stories from investigators over there bragging about the facilities they are building."

A small group of lawmakers is working now to try to hammer out some a budget deal for the next year, and potentially a way to get rid of, or at least mitigate the impact of, the sequestration cuts, Stein notes, but what happens if they fail or reach a deal that keeps the cuts in place long-term?

"So if you ask what is the long-term effect? .... Literally labs close and people end up on the street. That's the danger," Block says.