Your Tax Dollars

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | April 14, 2010 1:16 am


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Education

Comments (5)

  1. Gus Snarp

    Not mine. When I was a grad student, very little of my stipend could be traced to taxes, given that my research was entirely funded by the University, whose tax support has become minimal. So really, it was all the undergrads’ tuition that was going to my measly stipend.

    This is still a funny strip, but in the current political climate regarding taxes, spending, and science, this isn’t exactly a view I want promoted. That grad students are lazy and tax dollars spent giving them stipends are wasted.

    In my experience, while every grad student has their off days and their less productive times (like every employee everywhere, including me right now as I type this), in general graduate researchers work very hard. My colleagues spent long nights at the computer, summers hacking through the jungle with machetes, and winters drilling ice cores in the arctic. None were wasting grant money, which they had to work very hard to earn and track every dime of (and if it was a professor’s grant, the university got their cut off the top for overhead, an amount that could not be included in the grant writing, so basically the professor had to make up that difference). In addition, some research, like mine, is university funded, and much of it is funded by private companies. The results of this research are owned by the university and/or the company, and are not necessarily shared with the public as the results of a government grant are more likely to be.

  2. William Furr

    My assistantship is funded by an NIH grant right now. Thank you US taxpayers! I promise I’ll pay you back when I finish school and start making real money.

  3. John

    Seems like the best investment we can make!

  4. Sean McCorkle

    The strip after that one puts into perspective the relative amount of research dollars in the federal budget. Took me a while to locate NSF and NOAA. (pretty small)

  5. Gus Snarp

    @Sean – Yeah, the follow up really needs to be seen with this one.


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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