Sunday, April 6, 2014

So Science, Much Funding

Okay, I'll admit it. I browse Reddit. Well maybe BROWSE is a weak term for my interaction with Reddit. Let's just leave it at the fact that I have a vested interested in Reddit and I make sure to keep my investments to the site current and frequently substantiated.


But I'm not on there just whiling away the hours looking at cat pictures. I can assure you of this. I spent a lot of time on /r/scotch, /r/pipetobaccco, /r/cigars, /r/cocktails, /r/cigarettes (shush, that's another topic for later), and a bevy of other subreddits that cater to my whims. If you look hard enough (okay, not really hard), you can find me. I enjoy being on there and meeting people from all across the world that share my common interests.

As part and parcel of being on Reddit, I have run into Ben Eisenkop. He is a man larger than life, a demi-god of crows and eagles and pineapples and Minecraft. He is the man behind Unidan. Unidan is a behemoth of all things science and awkwardly funny. He actively engages Reddit, providing scientific explanations of biological and ornithological quandaries. And he does it with aplomb and good-natured cheer. Recently, I learned that Ben is actually a PhD student at my father's alma mater, Binghamton University. Even MORE recently, he did a TEDx talk at Binghamton University on a subject near and dear to my heart. Here it is, in full.

Yeah, it's pretty nerdy. Yes, it contains doge. And cryptocurrency. But it is about a problem that I have long tried to think through and surmount. Funding for research.

As you can guess (hopefully) by now, I am a man with a scientific mind. I enjoy the pursuit of knowledge and will generally stop at very few things in my course to solve mysteries. One of the things that stops me is money. Research costs money; from lab usage and testing to equipment to consultants. It's not free. And, as Ben talks about, it is difficult for scientists with narrow or limited scope topics to get funding for research. And let's be honest, if Ben can't get funding on any government or "official" level for something that could very well impact the way biology is thought about in some small manner...what chance does a man looking to research the effects wood has on an active poison have?

There are many topics that rattle around in my head that I'd love to research but would cost a fortune to do. Well, not a fortune, but a significant chunk of money (which, at the moment, is greater than $1000 to me). There are things that I'd love to run through GC-MS, to agar plate and grow, to consult with others about that would potentially affect the beverage industry. But is there funding for it? None that I can find. Perhaps there are avenues that I haven't considered or grants that I've never heard of but in my research I haven't really found anyone that would be willing to pay for the stuff I'd like to do.

So maybe, just maybe, if I can get my stuff together...I'll turn to the crowd. Because maybe if it's a question I've thought about, someone else has thought about it too.

And maybe they've got money.

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