The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, February 04, 1991, Page 6, Image 6

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    UNL scientists say cash needed to compete
By Cindy Kimbrough
Staff Reporter
To keep up with countries like Germany and
Japan, the United States should increase its
spending for research, some University of
Nebraska-Lincoln scientists said.
Responding toa report released by theprcsi
dent of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, Anthony Starace,
chairman of UNL’s Department of Physics and
Astronomy, said spending for research should
be increased in the near future.
“Even though you have reasonable increases
of 5 to 10 percent in the overall budget,” he
said, “we are trying to do so much more and the
number of scientists has increased as well.”
The report, released by Leon Lederman.
stated that the level of research funding hasn’t
been adequate since 1968, science’s “golden
According to the report, funding has risen
only 20 percent since that time and is no longer
adequate because the cost of doing research has
increased. Lederman indicated that the budget
would need to be doubled, although S10 billion
would be needed to reach the goal.
Lederman suggested two remedies for re
searchers: to tighten their belts like everyone
else or to fight for more financial support from
Starace, who also is chairman of the Ameri
can Physical Society, said Congress should be
willing to give more money to research.
“Ten billion seems like a lot, but in the
context of the federal budget it is not,” he said.
“It is something the country has to decide,
whether it is a priority or not.”
Starace said the amount of scientific re
search has increased and people are discover
ing things that have to be followed up but they
don’t have enough funds.
One example, he said, was fusion research.
It is “the energy source of the future” because
it is clean and the only waste from itjs water, he
“Progress has been slow. We’ve worked on
it for a generation,” Starace said. “Progress has
been made but it is expensive.”
But now, he said, the annual budget for
fusion research has been cut because the prog
ress was not fast enough. Europe and Japan are
going ahead full steam, he said.
“The economy has grown, but the spending
on scientific research has not,” he said, “and
that means we are putting less of our economic
output back into what would make it grow.”
Starace said that if soending for scientific
research docs not increase, the United States
could keep things the way they are and muddle
through, finance only the top priority projects
or form a commission to look for private sources
for support.
Sarny Elias, associate dean for the Engi
neering Research Centers at UNL, said in
creasing the research budget would “definitely
be the right move,’’because the United Stales is
behind many Western countries in the amount
of research and development that is spent on
new products.
“I think research is and will continue to be
the foundation of civilization and the founda
tion of growth,” he said.
Elias said many things developed for the
space program are used every day and taken for
“If you look at what is happening in Japan,”
he said, “they have passed us many times over
in the amount of funds they allocate for re
search and development compared to what we
do in this country.”
Elias said many of the advantages society
has today can be traced back to invention that
came as a result of research and development.
The United States doesn’t have the same level
of research and development today, he said.
The quest to double funding is reasonable,
he said, but within the federal budget con
straints, it probably is not going to happen at
once. He said the government should have a
short-range plan over five years to get back to
a competitive level with Germany, France and
Darrell Nelson, dean and director of the
Agricultural Research Division at UNL, said
federal funding for agriculture has not kept up
with the cost of living in the last decade and
agricultural researchers currently are engaged
in a major effort to increase funding.
Nelson said agricultural research nation
wide must be competitive in the world econ
omy and maintain profitability for producers to
stay on top.
The 1990 farm bill, he said, placed agricul
tural research in its first year of a new grant
program called the National Initiative for Re
search on Food, Agriculture and the Environ
ment, which has increased its budget $30 mil
lion from last year.
The grant program will add $500 million to
the research budget over the next five years, he
Nelson said he was confident the program
will help agricultural research because now
there will be more funds for schools like UNL
to compete for.
He said he feels good about 1991, but efforts
need to continue to get back where U NL was in
buying power in 1980.
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Official wary of research limits
By Alan Phelps
Staff Reporter _
Any effort by Congress to limit
research links between American
universities arid foreign companies
would be easier said than done, a
University of Nebraska-Lincoln offi
cial said.
Bill Splinter, interim vice chan
cellor for research at UNL, said at
tempts at such protectionist legisla
tion would “get bogged down in trying
lo define what an American company
As cooperation between Ameri
can universities and foreign compa
nies becomes more common, law
makers are becoming more concerned
that pieces of state-of-the-art infor
mauon gathered in part with federal
grants are being given to foreign
competitors a: prices below true value.
Some members of Congress have
expressed interest in legislation re
quiring universities to look for Ameri
can clients before selling information
to foreigners.
Splinter said laws !o restrict such
activity would be difficult to imple
“The problem arises when these
companies are either fully or partially
owned in the international arena,”
Splinter said. “For insiance, Sony has
no plants here, so they’re clearly
Japanese. But Honda’s got a big plant
in Kentucky. Would you call them
American or Japanese?”
Splinter said UNL currently has a
patent deal with a Japanese company
that bought out an American com
pany the university previously had an
agreement with.
“There’s nothing you can do in
that case,” he said.
If legislation were to pass, Splinter
said, it would have little effect on
“A very small piece of the action
here is with foreign companies. We
have some modest projects, like a
small one with Kawasaki,” he said.
“The number that would be directly
international is small, very small —
three or four.”
Splinter said the small amount of
foreign projects at UNL would make
it easy for the university to comply
with any regulations Congress might
He said lawmakers are more con
cerned about research institutions like
the Massachusetts Institute of Tech
nology because of the large volume
of work they do for international
However, Spl inter said he doubted
such legislation ever would pass.
“I’m sure Congress will find it
extremely difficult to draw a line
because most (of the companies in
question) are big international com
panies,” he said. “The international
trade process is so transparent across
borders now.”
Ruling goes beyond teaching rights
By Kathy Wiemers
Staff Reporter
University professors have rights
beyond teaching, according to a
summary judgment in a U.S. District
Court case involving the University
of Ncbraska-Lincoln and a professor.
Attorney Thom Cope said it is the
first time a judge has decided that
professors have rights to areas of their
jobs other than leaching.
Cope represents Bruce Erlich, a
UNL associate professor of English
and modem languages and literatures
who is suing the NU Board of Re
David Buntain, an attorney repre
senting the university, said he wouldn’t
confirm that it was the first time that
such a decision has been made.
Cope said a professor’s rights, such
as voting or holding an office or a
committee seat, cannot be taken away
without prior notice, a hearing and an
opportunity to respond.
UNL had taken away Erlich’s rights
to vote within the department and his
committee scat, according to Cope.
Erlich lost his rights when the modern
languages and literatures department
voted to require a professor to have a
half-time appointment to vote and be
on committees within the department,
Cope said.
Erlich’s leaching commitment was
divided, with a one-third time ap
pointment in the modem languages
department and a two-thirds lime
appointment in the English depart
Since the complaint was filed,
Helmut F. Pfanner, former chairman
of the modem languages department,
has left UNL and has been given
immunity from the lawsuit, Cope said.
Pfanner is now at Vanderbilt Univer
sity in Nashville, Tenn.
The final trial in the lawsuit is
expected to be in May, Cope said, on
the issue of whether Erlich got a proper
notice, a hearing and an opportunity
to respond before his rights allegedly
were taken away.
Cope said the trial is significant
because the outcome will affect all
tenured professors.
Buntain disagreed with Cope’s
“For one thing, it’s a preliminary
decision. Until the case is finally
decided, 1 don’t think we can assess it
(the the summary judgment) that way.’’
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