Colleges across the country have hundreds of shovel- and beaker-ready projects in the sciences that could collectively cost tens of billions of dollars and begin within weeks, reports the New York Times. "We’re grateful for the money, but it’s not such a large number that anybody’s going to have to look very hard for good projects to fund," said Leslie Tolbert, the vice president for research at the University of Arizona. When President Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus measure last week, one of the law’s most surprising provisions was a 36 percent increase in the budget for the National Institutes of Health. The law gives the health institutes $10.4 billion in addition to its annual budget of $29 billion, and the new money must be allocated by September 2010 on grants and other projects that can extend no more than two years. The law gives the National Science Foundation $2 billion in stimulus financing for research grants, and the foundation also has until September 2010 to spend the money. But the foundation will act much faster, pushing nearly all of that money out to scientists within 120 days, said Jeffrey Nesbit, an NSF spokesman. The spending increase comes after six years of nearly flat research budgets at the NIH, NSF, the Department of Energy, and other agencies–and growing desperation at research universities, which depend on the agencies to underwrite much of their scientific faculty and laboratory infrastructure…

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