The sequester is going to destroy America's science research
Reason number 47 why the Sequester is awful policy.
That is: the sequester wreaks its havoc by striking hardest at particular points in the life cycle of a university researcher. New tenure-line faculty are actually somewhat insulated from the very worst of the pressure. "Every agency has set aside money for young investigators," he says,"some from private foundations, and a lot from the feds." Cuts in budget strike those dependent on other people's grants -- graduate students, post docs and soft-money research scientists -- but a new faculty hire has somewhat better prospects than most for the first few years. The rubber hits the road, though, at tenure. MIT, like other leading research universities, generally tenures faculty at around the seven year mark.
Researchers achieve tenure on the basis of strong performance in those first years and then after promotion are expected to advance their program through what should be the heart of their productive lives. The tricky part is that it is already enormously difficult to do so. Once tenured, the researcher competes for grants against the entire population, Nobel laureates, National Academicians and all. There's a reason that the average age for winning your first R0-1 grant is 42 -- that's up by more than five years since 1980. Add the sequester's cut on top of that existing semi (or more than)-crisis, and you have a circumstance where early-mid career scientists could become even more at risk to career-blasting loss of research funding.