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Episode 126 - The Facts and Misconceptions Behind Funding in Science, with Dr. Pamela Gay

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Recap: The issue of funding in science is near and dear to my heart ... or, perhaps to my grocery, rent, and utility bills. Most people who are not in science do not know - and have many misconceptions about - how research scientists get funding and what they do with it. In this episode, I interview and discuss with Dr. Pamela Gay this significant issue and why it is a larger issue than many realize.

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Episode Summary

Dr. Pamela Gay is a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She is an astronomer, writer, and most people listening to this probably know her best as a podcaster through her incredibly popular podcast, AstronomyCast, which she cohosts with Frasier Cain. Pamela’s focus for the past several years has been to develop new ways with “new media” to engage people in science and technology. Her most recent large endeavor into that is through CosmoQuest.org, for which she is the director, which presents forums, blogs, classes, and citizen science projects where YOU become the scientist gathering real data. Since I've often billed my own podcast as though it were the love child of Skeptoid and AstronomyCast, it’s a real honor to have Pamela join us today to talk about a particular topic that’s been on her mind lately - and on the minds of other scientists in the field: Funding.

There is no transcript as this was an interview episode. Below is an outline of the topics and questions that we discussed.

  • What are the main ways that scientists get funding today?
  • Is this a recent development? How has it changed with time?
  • Listener-submitted question: What do you think the difference is between industry-funded science versus government-funded in terms of trustworthiness, ease of funding, etc.?
  • How are donations different or similar to more traditional forms of funding?
  • What does the money go to?
  • What is the short-short process for how scientists get funding, and what is the success rate [of each]?
  • What are some common misconceptions that you think people have with regards to how we're funded?
  • Listener-submitted question: In your opinion, if we were to discover life elsewhere in the solar system, what do you think it would do to NASA’s budget? Follow-up based on response: So you don’t think it makes any sense for NASA to "hide" evidence of ET life?

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Comments to date: 1. Page 1 of 1. Average Rating:

Torsten Pihl (ThorGoLucky)   Corvallis, Oregon, USA

8:27pm on Friday, March 6th, 2015 

Thanks for exposing the unfortunate realities of funding for real science research in 'mer'ka. Cue the cranks to take what you said out of context. Mew.

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