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Environment

Impact Of Research

March 19, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 12

The broader impacts of a given piece of work as conventionally defined by grant agencies may miss the real, long-term societal impact of the funding (C&EN, Jan. 16, page 7). It seems to me that the major benefits from most scientific research do not necessarily come from the research results themselves. Instead, they may well come from the production of scientists, former Ph.D. and postdoctoral coworkers trained under agency sponsorship who then go out and do remarkable things during their careers.

I expect that most principal investigators could name an extended series of their former coworkers who have had major impacts in terms of their subsequent work in industry, in the national labs, in medical institutions, and in academia or government.

By Bob Crabtree
New Haven, Conn.

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