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Scientists Uncertain After Brexit Vote

With voters in the UK deciding to leave the European Union, British researchers are left wondering how this outcome will affect science there, the Verge writes. In a tight campaign, some 52 percent of voters opted to leave the EU and 48 percent voted to remain in the EU.

UK scientists were largely against the so-called 'Brexit.' A poll conducted by Nature in March found that 83 percent of UK researchers said Britain should remain in the EU.

While exactly what a Brexit will mean for UK science isn't yet fully clear, researchers are worried about a loss of funding, collaborations, and opportunities.

According to the Verge, the EU has a €120 billion budget for 2014 to 2020 to go toward research projects and the UK generally gets more back in grants than it pays in — Britain paid €5.4 billion into the EU research budget between 2007 and 2013, but received €8.8 billion back in grants.

"On the research funding side, we're a net beneficiary. One very immediate question [is] how will our participation in research continue?" James Wilsdon, a professor of research policy at the University of Sheffield, tells Buzzfeed. "And if there's a shortfall in funding, will the UK government pick it up, as they promised?"

Stephen Curry, a structural biologist at Imperial College London, adds that the UK scientists may no longer be seen as trusted research partners. Others, like Patrick Round, a doctor who performs clinical trials for a biotech startup, say that collaborations will likely continue. He notes that UK researchers currently collaborate with investigators in the US, Japan, and Canada.

In a statement, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory says that the vote "has no direct consequences" on the UK's membership in EMBL. It says it is an intergovernmental organization that is not formally linked to the EU and that not all of its 22 member states are part of the EU.

In addition, EMBL says that "[a]ll member state and non-member state citizens can work for EMBL across its sites and this will not change, thanks to the host-site agreements in place with all of EMBL's host countries."

That there might be changes in mobility and in opportunity is another element disquieting UK researchers. According to the Verge, about a third of researchers at the University of Cambridge are from outside the UK and 23 percent are from other EU countries.

"But I think the bigger questions are over mobility, what this will do to the attractiveness of the UK as a destination for the best and brightest from across Europe, who will now — quite rightly — think twice about coming to pursue their careers in British universities," Wilsdon adds at Buzzfeed.

Finally, Philip Moriarty, a physicist at the University of Nottingham, says at Buzzfeed that his reaction this morning upon seeing the news was: "Oh, bollocks."

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