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Texas Scientists Fear DEI Bill Could Cost Research Dollars

Federal research agencies are committed to DEI, but a Senate bill is trying to dismantle it from Texas campuses. Will scientists pay the price?

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When neuroscientist Andrea C. Gore received a perfect score in her latest research grant application, she felt honored.

Only four scientists every other year are awarded the $7.5 million grant by the National Institutes of Health. Gore will spend the next eight years conducting research on how chemicals in food, personal care products and other items that are part of our daily lives affect early life brain development.

She’s also incredibly grateful that she applied last year because she and many other researchers say they are concerned that similar funding will soon be out of reach if a Senate bill lawmakers are discussing is approved.

The bill aims to dismantle all diversity, equity and inclusion programs, or DEI as they have become known, in higher education.

“In all likelihood, if I didn’t have a good DEI component, I would not have scored nearly as well and very likely would not have been in contention for funding,” she said.

Most federal agencies have built DEI into grant applications, Gore said. And some applications explicitly require applicants to write about their plans to incorporate DEI into their projects.

Gore joins thousands of Texas faculty who rely on grants to conduct scientific research for their universities. Without these grants, laboratories can’t keep their lights on, graduate students aren’t paid, new researchers don’t relocate to Texas and science doesn’t happen.

Through federal funding, Texas researchers over the years have innovated in disciplines ranging from artificial intelligence to water sustainability, including research that was foundational to the development of Covid-19 vaccines.

These grants have yielded big dollars for Texas universities and the state’s economy. In 2022, all Texas universities combined spent $6.9 billion in research. The largest grants come from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

The Senate bill, authored by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, comes in a wave of anti-DEI bills across the country. In 19 states with Republican-led legislatures, 34 bills targeting DEI have been introduced this year alone. As of now, only a North Dakota bill has been signed into law.

To read the full article visit our partners at the Dallas Morning News.

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