• Question: How much money do you need for your science research?

    Asked by bairdcp01 to Amelia, Jim, Liz, Prateek, Richard on 13 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Jim Caryl

      Jim Caryl answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      Well this is an interesting question!

      Different areas of science, even within the biological sciences, can have massively different costs. In our lab we have machines that vary in cost between £2000 and £20,000, but these only really need to be bought infrequently as we make them last a long time. The main costs in science are consumables – the things we use up on a daily basis – and research staff.

      The first grant I helped to write (a grant being a request for money to do research) was £196,000 for three years research, so this is about £65,000 per year; but remember, MOST of this was to pay for equipment, and to pay the university for lighting/heating/water and for consumables (all the chemicals we needed). There was also some money there to pay my salary (as we need to find the money for our own salaries too), but that wasn’t very much!

      Sometimes we just need to ask for money to cover the costs of a small study, where we only really need to cover the costs of the materials we need, and this can be as little as £13,000 for the year. Our research area does not cost a large amount of money, the most expensive thing we need to purchase are the antibiotic medicine we work with, that is pretty expensive!

    • Photo: Richard Badge

      Richard Badge answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      Hi bairdcp01

      Jim has this one pretty much covered… in my field one researcher needs about £15,000 – £20,000 a year in consumables and salaries are always the main components of grants – talented people are the only way science goes forward.

      Equipment can be a lot more expensive… I just got back from a meeting where were discussing doing an experiment on a machine that cost £300,000. Just the computer that runs it is £30,000! I am glad that I won’t actually have to work on the machine, in case I break it….

    • Photo: Lizzard O'Day

      Lizzard O'Day answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      Science is expensive. A lot of my work focuses on using one machine- a “Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer” there can be all different types but the one I use the most costs $16 million dollars. That’s just for the machine- not the sample, the maintenance and everything else! This can seem crazy but using this machine is one of the best ways to figure out what things look like in a cell- so I’d say it’s worth every penny. However, not everyone has a cool $16 million lying around and that’s why I’m such a huge fan of people supporting science research. And it’s also why I work so hard- I don’t take for granted I get a chance to work (and play) on these instruments.

    • Photo: Amelia Markey

      Amelia Markey answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      I think the answers pretty much cover it. Big machines are very expensive but even the costs of everyday lab stuff like tubes and things for reactions add up. My device thankfully was pretty cheap to make and we can use it again and again although I’m sure the machine that made it costs a fair bit.