The scientists talked about their concerns, goals, and priorities for the coming year, among other topics. In a nutshell, all are worried about funding shortfalls. They also say 1991 will bring the U.S. face-to-face with critical choices about science education and the country's overall research efforts.

As the federal government pumps millions of research dollars into a handful of megaprograms, hundreds of smaller, more important research initiatives are falling by the wayside, they say. Should this trend continue, many of the country's brightest young people will continue to spurn careers in scientific research for more stable and lucrative professions. Meanwhile, those students who do choose science will be forced to pursue an ever-narrowing scope of research problems deemed bankable by funding agencies.

But the picture isn't totally bleak. Despite scientists' gloom over funding shortfalls and their nearly unanimous disenchantment with big science, most say there has never been a more...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!