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Trends in Federal Support of Research and Graduate Education
FIGURE 4–1 Research funding by field, Department of Defense, FY 1993 vs. FY 1999.
source of support in 1993 through its agency, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. In aeronautical engineering, in which NASA is the major funder, DOD funding went from being about 7 percent less in 1997 than in 1993 to being 44 percent more in 1999. That increase helped put overall federal funding of aeronautical engineering research 21 percent higher than in 1993. DOD funding of life sciences (primarily biological and medical sciences) fell from 1993 to 1997, when it was 28 percent less than the 1993 level. But it began to increase again in 1998 (by 48 percent over 1997). In 1999, it was 14 percent more in 1999 than in 1993, and it was expected to be 43 percent more in 2000. The largest boost after 1997 was in the biological sciences, reflecting in part the growth in the congressionally mandated research programs on breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers and also increased attention to biological threats to national security.
As shares of DOD’s research budgets, the life sciences increased from 7.8 percent to 11.4 percent, computer science from 9.9 percent to 13.0 percent, and environmental sciences from 5.5 percent to 7.9 percent because of increased funding of oceanography (Annex Table 4–1). The physical sciences dropped from 14.1 percent to 9.8 percent and engineering from 51.2 percent to 47.1 percent. Thus, there was a shift in DOD’s portfolio of about 9 percentage points from the physical sciences and engineering to the life sciences (up 3.6 percentage points), computer science (up 3.1 percentage points), and oceanography (up 2.6 percentage points).
The fields that DOD favored—biological and medical sciences, computer science, oceanography, aeronautical engineering, and metallurgy/materials engineering—were fields receiving increases from other agencies. In fact, all but metallurgy/materials engineering had at least 20 percent more funding in 1999 than in 1993. Some fields cut at DOD—mathematics, astronautical and civil engineering, psychology, and social science—have ended up with increased funding overall because other agencies stepped up their support. But other fields with less DOD support—chemistry, physics, geology, and chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering—did not pick up increases from other agencies and were down compared with 1993, all but chemistry by at least 20 percent.
Trends in the number of full-time graduate students supported by the DOD are generally consistent with the changes in funding levels of research. Overall, the number of DOD-supported full-time graduate students decreased by 17.6 percent, from 1993 to 1999 (Annex Table 4–2). The decreases occurred in almost all fields. Among engineering fields with the largest decreases were civil engineering, down by 52.1 percent, aerospace engineering, down by 41.5 percent, and metallurgy and materials engineering, down by 38.2 percent. Among graduate students in the sciences, those in mathematical science decreased by 43.1 percent, those in social sciences decreased by 37.4 percent, those in earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences decreased by 34.4 percent, and those in physical sciences decreased by 25.6 percent. DOD-supported students in the health fields were down by 16.6 percent, but students in the biological science were up by 23.4 percent. Also increasing were the numbers of graduate students in electrical engineering, up by 4.4 percent, and in chemical engineering, up by 17.3 percent.
Department of Energy
Although DOE’s funding of research was 2.1 percent higher in 1999 than in 1993, the DOE research budget took a 7 percent cut from 1993 to 1994, bottomed out in 1996, and did not reach its 1993 level until 1998. Some fields were cut more than others were, and although research is growing, the allocation of funds among fields has been changed (Figure 4–2, Annex Table 4–3).
Despite increases in research funding since 1996, the physical sciences were cut by more than a quarter from 1993 to 1999 (26.8 percent, from $2.2 to $1.7 billion). As a share of the DOE research portfolio they declined from 58 percent to 42 percent. Environmental science research support also was reduced after 1997. These fields were up by 6 percent over 1993 in 1997 but down by 8 percent two years later. From 1993 to 1999, oceanography was down by 36 percent, geology by 33 percent, and atmospheric sciences by 8 percent.
Life sciences were also down (by 7 percent, from $275 to $255 million), but not as much as in 1997 when they were 17 percent less than in 1993. The big hits were in biology (down by $13 million) and n.e.c. (down $11 million). Environmental biology nearly quadrupled, but from a small base (280 percent, from $2.2 to $8.5 million).