NSF cancels all grant allocations

In a surprise announcement yesterday, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released its grant schedule for the 2011 fiscal year. The agency normally allocates $4 billion to distribute to researchers around the country, and many Carnegie Mellon professors commonly apply for NSF grants. “The NSF is one of our primary sources of project funding. Most of our operating budget, and my stipend, come from the NSF,” said James Fisher, a graduate student in chemistry, before the announcement.

To Fisher and many others’ dismay, the NSF announced that it would not be allowing applications for any grants for 2011. “After lengthy deliberations, we decided it was just really hard to give out all that money,” NSF Director Arden Bement Jr. said. Instead, all $4 billion will be used to buy Fiji, which will be renamed “Utopia.” Utopia will be “a paradise of science, with the laws of thermodynamics as a basis for the judiciary,” according to Bement.

Though Utopia may be a haven for antisocial scientists worldwide, some in the academic community are not pleased. Carnegie Mellon Vice President for Research Richard McCullough criticized the NSF, claiming, “This decision will put America behind in science and technology.” He added that this was because “all the scientists would leave America.”

While many scientists we talked to were concerned about the absence of NSF grants in their continued quest for tenure, others were excited about the opportunities in Utopia. Candace McMaster, a Utopia-invited cellular biologist, said, “The research equipment they showed in the presentation today does seem to be the highest quality in the world; however, I am not sure who will staff the local Starbucks.”

Senior researcher Madeline Huhtamok had even higher expectations for Utopia, letting The Tartan know she hoped “it is going to turn out just like that movie with the blue people, except not the part where they log the whole thing and try to kill everyone. That movie was great.”