Evolutionary Biology Major? No Smart Grant for You

Via The Panda’s Thumb comes this astonishing news:

The awards in question — known as Smart Grants, for the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent program — were created by Congress this year, with strong support from the president. The grants are worth up to $4,000 and are awarded in addition to Pell grants.
Recipients must be college juniors or seniors enrolled in one of the technical fields of study that the Department of Education has deemed eligible for funds. Many different topics, as varied as astronomy and Arabic, qualify.
But evolutionary biology is absent.
The department has an index of classification numbers — referred to as “CIP codes,” for the Classification of Instructional Programs — for all academic areas of instruction,
Under that classification scheme, there is a heading for “Ecology, Evolution, Systematics and Population Biology,” under which 10 biological fields are defined. For instance, ecology is 26.1301, and evolutionary biology is 26.1303.
But on a list that defines majors eligible for the grants, issued by the department in May, one of those 10 is missing. On that list, the classification numbers rise in order from 26.1301 to 26.1309 — with the exception of a blank line where 26.1303, or evolutionary biology, would fall.

Weird. I guess if you can’t produce evidence you make sure no one else can either…
Added later: The last line in the The Chronicle of Higher Education article:

For unknown reasons, “behavioral sciences” and “exercise psychology” are also absent.

And then there is this. The Hutchison amendment to S. 2802 (the “American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2006”) excludes funding, via NSF research grants, of behavioral and social sciences. As far as I know the Hutchison amendment failed. Still, one has to wonder if the exclusion of behavioral sciences by the DOE is a coincidence, and by extension the exclusion of evolutionary studies?

4 Responses

  1. They must be afraid that giving money to evolutionary biologists-in-training would result in a generation of Nazis! No Nazi-retention for us, thank you very much.

  2. And I see that, as usual, my area of interest at the moment (industrial and environmental microbiology) only exists on the list if you count it as one of the generic “Microbiology, General” (or “Other”) subgenres.

  3. The only thing that gives me pause is this factoid near the bottom of the story: “For instance, paleontology and genetics, both of which draw on evolutionary theories, list ‘evolution’ as a potential area of focus for students in those subjects.”
    Somehow I doubt any anti-evolutionist crusader would have missed those sciences, especially paleontology, so at the moment I’m willing to buy the “it’s an error” story. Still, with this white house, who knows?

  4. Get this: If your major is Forensics Biology at West Virginia University, you cannot get the SMART grant either. Forensic Biology is listed under Forensic & Investigative Science which is CIP 43.0106, a criminal justice classification. Even though the difference between the Forensic Biology and Biology majors is 2 classes, Ecology & Evolution and the Capstone Biology course, the CIP is not included on the list and the Financial Aid office refuses to listen past the CIP is not on the list.

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