To the editor,
As it happens, David Penny (Public Forum, June 11) has reasserted his blanket condemnation of publicly funded research just as I am preparing my annual report to the National Science Foundation. Those of us fortunate enough to get public funds for our research are required to justify every dollar we spend and explain how it fulfills a public need. In my case most of the funds were spent directly supporting the training of students at the undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral and even high school levels. The research and teaching missions of Kansas University are not separate but are intertwined. The big advantage students have in attending a research university like KU is that they can engage in cutting edge research and by so doing learn important real-world skills and learn how to develop and evaluate new knowledge.
If anyone wants to know how public research dollars coming to KU have been spent, it is pretty easy to look up the grants on the funding agency websites. And, speaking of the web, the basic hardware and software that formed the basis of the internet were created through publicly funded research. I think that industry and the public got a pretty good return on that investment.