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Sequester Affects OSU Research Funds

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CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University gets 60 percent of its research funding from federal government programs, but with sequestration, research programs will take a big hit.

“This is the time to lay the groundwork or the basis for your future,” said research assistant Josh Cuzzone.

PhD student Cuzzone talks about the importance of research. His project is backed by the National Science Foundation, a major federal sponsor at Oregon State University. But the sequester is forcing federal government programs to take at least a 5 percent cut to their budgets–that will result in a $10 million cut to research programs at OSU this fiscal year.

“The sequestration of $10 million could translate to 100 jobs lost here on campus,” said Rick Spinrad, OSU Vice President for Research.

Spinrad worked in Washington, D.C. for 25 years and says he’s never seen anything like this before.

“This is a truly unique situation. Therefore, we need to take it very seriously. And one of the important things that we have to do is convey to our members of Congress, our legislators in Salem, to the public in general, what the consequences of these cuts will be to the research that we do at our university,” Spinrad said.

He warns, the $10 million cut is just the beginning.

“This is just the first year of the sequestration hits. We’re going to have nine more years of similar hits,” Spinrad said.

That worries Cuzzone. His research is safe from cuts for now, but projects years down the line face uncertainty.

“I’m ok with my PhD, but in the future usually there’s a post doc afterwards, there’s more research, so the cuts are going to affect my future, and more immediately it’s affecting students that are just coming in now,” Cuzzone said.

The National Science Foundation says it will not cut existing programs but will delay or reduce the number of future programs. Other research departments are still in talks with their sponsors about where their cuts will be made.

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