> WASHINGTON- (AP) The leader of the United States Department of
> Agriculture’s National Institute for Food Research, Dr. Roger Beachy,
> admitted that the release of last week’s request for proposals (RFP)
> from scientific researchers was “simply a gag to lighten the research
> funding environment” and that the real one will be released this week.
> “Researchers are too stressed out; it seems that all they do is write
> grants. The request for proposals to address extremely finite subject
> areas would alienate 95% of them and give them all an opportunity to
> take a weekend off and not think about grant writing. With that clean
> mental slate they will more actively attack the real RFP when it is
> released,” said Beachy in a Friday phone interview.
> The national agricultural research community depends upon the USDA to
> fund a substantial part of its research. USDA support has dramatically
> assisted in increasing the food supply by funding a vast array of
> competitive basic and applied discovery research topics. By narrowing
> focus into non-traditional pigeonholes relevant to climate change and
> childhood obesity the broad sentiment in the plant research community
> is that they have been left out of funding opportunities.
> “I figured I’d just take the year off and do something novel. Maybe
> I’ll teach students or get that surgery I’ve been postponing, ” said
> Dr. Gordon Howe, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at
> Dartmouth College. “There ain’t a damn thing I can do unless I want
> to research on fat kids, and I have two of my own at home and sure
> don’t want to look at someone else’s.”
> Others viewed the faux AFRI’s request for proposals as a good thing.
> “I was ready to meet biofuels and childhood obesity all at once by
> liposuctioning kids and rendering their adipose tissue to power cars,”
> said MIT researcher Garrett Mellinia. “Not only does it solve two
> problems, the air around our highways and byways takes on a pleasant
> porky smell. now that the proposal slate has been recalled its back to
> the drawing board and actual plant science that affects people now.”
> While some are critical of the “prank RFP” others see the humor.
> University of California Davis researcher Johanna Munns laughed, “I
> figured it had to be a joke. After a decade of no substantial
> increases in the science budget, then dissolution of biology funding
> with NASA, the ultra-competitive environment at NSF and the cuts at
> NIH, it had to be a gag- glad to see I was right.”
> The actual RFP will be released on Monday, March 29th.
Hat Tip to Bruce Kirkpatrick for forwarding this email to me.
Writer unknown- please send clues.
Update: The actual RFP adresses extremely finite subject areas and excludes studies of plant disease resistance to bacterial, viral and fungal pathogens. Guess I will get that surgery that I have been postponing after all…