News & AnalysisEcology

Pioneering Center Ponders Future as NSF Pulls Out

Science  20 May 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6032, pp. 905
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6032.905

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Summary

Part think tank, part conference and computing facility, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) has fostered collaborations that have gathered rich data sets, yielding some of the most widely cited work in the field. But the future of NCEAS is in question as it faces the end of its core funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). The support was always time-limited—NSF-funded centers are expected to support themselves or close, regardless of their success—but supporters say the policy is a mistake in this case. NCEAS continues to look for new money, but in the current financial squeeze, the center post-NSF will likely be a smaller, different place, with an emphasis more on applied problems than fundamental ecological questions.