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Google’s Matt Cutts has made a surprise appearance here today in the SEO Site Clinic at SES San Jose 2009 along with Web Guerilla’s Greg Boser and . SEO Site Clinic’s are basically free open forums here at SES where site owners and businesses can receive free feedback from these SEO experts and ESPECIALLY Matt Cutts.
By the way, Matt is sporting a new harido this week, a shaved head AND missing goat tee. I hear there is a funny story behind it, and hopefully we’ll have more info on that to come.
I’ve stepped in while the team is reviewing chúng tôi picking apart their homepage mission statement, or atleast the text that they use to define their homepage and entire website. “Are people searching for these terms?”
Matt Cutts recommends putting together little focus groups of relevant users and customers and asking them about what terms and words they use to define your service. Those words should be used to define your site, and can then be used as the foundation of building out a keyword research and SEO implementation strategy.
Next Site : CheapAirportParking.ORG
Matt says look into rebranding with a more brandable domain name which may be more improtant for the long haul … distinguishing yourself from the “scuzzy underbelly” of sites which try to position themselves as spam or even pose as a real airport site.
Note : Is this a foreshadowing of the way Google treats brands vs. “search term” oriented domains?
Note : Don’t use NoFollow to PageRank sculpt, Google wants content, feed it to them.
The conversation then turns to usability issues then the aspect of backlinks is brought up.
“Buying links is bad”
Now the conversation heats up. “How do you feel if Google does not penalize link buying.”
Matt says “If you are buying links, we can dig into it in a lot of ways. There are many ways to get links without buying them.”
Greg says the best way to get quality links is to have Matt Cutts bust you, then he links to you and you get all of his juice. Matt Cutts counters with something like “I have developed ways for those links not to carry value”.
Conversation Turns to Domaining
Domaining and IP Tip : Cutts says that you can have a large number of domains, but it makes much more sense to have less, and build them up. Therefore, they are more powerful.
If you’re going to spam with multiple sites, don’t do it with obvious domains or sites … like hyphenated domains or “dot infos”.
Cutts says it’s fine to have multiple domains … just register them and then 301 redirect them to your main domain.
Note : If the site you acquire or build has equity, that site’s equity will redirect as well with the 301.
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Weebly is a website builder you can use to create your site, blog, or even an online store. Founded in 2007, it was acquired by Square in 2023 and is now the basis for over 50 million websites worldwide.
Builders like Weebly are great for people who need a site but don’t have much (or any) knowledge about HTML, CSS, and other coding languages.
With drag-and-drop functionality, templates, and other useful tools, building websites with Weebly is user-friendly and doesn’t require any specialized knowledge.
But just having a website isn’t enough – it also needs to be found by visitors.
So just how useful is Weebly for SEO?
Do you have control over where your website will rank in search listings?
Is it even possible to show up on the first page of Google with a Weebly domain?How Good Is Weebly For SEO?
The question isn’t “Can you use Weebly for SEO?” – Of course, you can.
The real question is “How well do SEO tactics and strategies work with Weebly sites?”
This, like most things SEO, is a bit more complex.
In short, if you’re wondering if a Weebly website can rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs), the answer is yes.
It comes down to what you put into it.
Factors like keywords, site content, and links all play a role.
And among website platforms, Weebly is one of the better choices, as some SEO functionality is built right into the platform.
Read on to learn some strategies you can implement to optimize your Weebly site and drive more traffic.Who Uses Weebly?
They can create a professional-looking website without spending thousands of dollars with a web development agency.
It’s a budget-friendly way for small and medium-sized businesses to establish a presence on the internet.
For professionals like artists, graphic designers, and copywriters, who primarily use their website as a portfolio showcase or place to send visitors, it’s extremely useful.
If you’re seeking to use your site to attract new customers or sales and grow your business, it’s generally less effective than other platforms.
But that’s not to say it can’t be used for that purpose.How Do I Optimize My Weebly Site?
To understand what it takes to optimize SEO for your Weebly site, it’s first necessary to understand how search engines work.
Search engines determine rankings using four main factors:
Crawling and indexing.
Crawling and indexing are performed by crawlers (also known as spiders), that follow links from one site to the next.
Algorithms are a set of detailed instructions search engines use to determine what content is useful, while machine learning helps fine-tune this process.
Above all, the goal of search engines is to provide visitors with the information they’re seeking, which makes user intent paramount.
For a more in-depth explanation of how search engines work, this is a good place to start.
We’re also going to assume you’ve already set up a Google Analytics account to track web traffic.
If you don’t know how to do that, you can read more about it here.
With these basics out of the way, here are three steps you should take immediately to maximize the rankings of your Weebly site:
Optimize page titles – By far the easiest way to boost your Weebly SEO, updating your page titles with relevant keywords will help your site get found (and visited) by the right audience. Not sure what your keyword strategy should be? Keep reading, we’ll cover that a little later.
Update your URL and submit your sitemap – Google can discover your site naturally, but this can be a slow process. Instead of waiting, use your Google Search Console account to add your sitemap URL. This will speed up the discovery process and make sure all your pages are indexed. You can read more about crawling and indexing here.
Now let’s dive deeper into how you can do this and discuss other ways you can secure a high ranking.What SEO Settings Are Offered In Weebly?
One of the biggest benefits of using Weebly as a web platform for your business is its accessibility.
You don’t need to know any coding at all to get started – and this is true for SEO optimization as well.
Here you’ll be able to add Page Titles, Page Descriptions, and Meta Keywords.How Do I Add SEO Keywords To My Weebly Website?
Let’s look closer at keywords and what it takes to develop a successful strategy.
It starts with research.
You need to determine which queries your target audience will be using, then use those terms as part of your overall content strategy.
Your on-page content needs to use these keywords organically to establish your site’s usefulness.
Using your Google Analytics account or another reliable SEO tool, you can perform research to determine what keywords you should be using.
There are three main elements to consider for this:
Relevance – This is where the concept of intent comes in. High-ranking content offers the best fit when it comes to answering queries. The most valuable content will rank highest.
Authority – Google weights sources it deems more authoritative. For example, if your keywords are competing with NASA, it’s going to be more difficult to rank highly.
Volume – You want keywords people are actively searching for. Being ranked at the top for a term that gets three hits a month is not nearly as useful as being fifth for one that gets 5000.
Your goal is to find high-traffic, low competition keywords, though, with some terms, a high level of competition is inevitable.
For more information about performing keyword research, read this article.
Once you have performed your keyword research, add them into the page title, meta description, and URL structure.
Your on-page content should also be tailored with keyword-rich paragraphs.
But don’t jam in terms where they don’t fit.
This practice can get you dinged by search engines for keyword stuffing which could result in your page being demoted in rankings or even removed from results altogether.
For more information on how to optimize your on-page content, we’ve provided a handy guide here.Weebly SEO Pros
There’s a good reason why Weebly is used by 45 million users worldwide – it’s simple and affordable.
A free, albeit limited version is available, which lets you to use a Weebly subdomain (e.g., chúng tôi at no cost.
Premium versions are also very affordable, with plans starting as low as $6.00 per month, with available free custom domains.
Weebly allows both premium and free sites to be indexed.
Weebly is also probably the easiest website builder.
Drag-and-drop visual tools let even the most technically deficient users create a good-looking site that’s responsive for mobile visitors.
Adding pages is easy, so you can create child pages that are more in-depth (and keyword-rich).
And the in-page meta data editor lets you optimize it for SEO purposes by easily editing title tags and meta descriptions.
It’s also easy to add a blog to your Weebly site.
Blogs are a great way to boost SEO quality, as they position you as an authority for answering your visitor’s questions.
Quality content on your blog using a variety of on-page SEO tactics will make your site more appealing to visitors and give you more opportunities to rank in search engines.
If you’re a bit more technologically savvy, Weebly also now allows you to add schema to your website.
You can add custom tags to headers and footers and other structured data to help you rank higher.
There are several structured data generators available for free online to help you generate this code if you need it.
Embedding it on your site is as simple as cutting and pasting in the page editor.Weebly SEO Cons
Now that we’ve covered the good things about Weebly, it’s only fair that we discuss its drawbacks.
The first, and most obvious shortcoming is that it doesn’t allow you to go beyond H2 headers.
You may not be able to subdivide your content the way you want and your copy won’t be as scannable as you might like.
As you build, implement and optimize your website, the other issue you’ll encounter is control restrictions.
Even with a premium plan, Weebly doesn’t allow you to install any software on their site.
This means if you’re using Weebly to build a platform for your business, you can’t integrate content management services.
You may have to rethink your SEO content strategy and find a way to provide the same quality information, without using other services you may currently rely on.
You may also find Weebly’s blog functionality is not up to your standards.
You can’t migrate blog content from another platform, and the layout is fixed.
Forum options are also very limited.
The previously mentioned third-party restrictions mean you can’t use an element like chúng tôi on your Weebly site.
Weebly’s forum functionality limits sub-forums to five, with only the 15 most recent topics displayed and topics limited to a maximum of 200 replies.
And because hosting communities on your website allows your visitors to organically create the type of relevant content search engines value, this could be a lost opportunity.
The way Weebly backs up sites is also potentially problematic.
You can download your entire site as a zip file, but if you lose your content or your site is deleted, you’ll be stuck rebuilding it from scratch, including your top-performing pages.Other Weebly SEO FAQs Should You Host Your Website On Weebly Or Pick An Alternative?
Still not sure if Weebly will work for your SEO needs?
At the end of the day, it comes down to your budget and resources.
If you’re looking for simple and affordable, or you’re a one-person marketing team, Weebly might be just the thing.
You’ll be able to create a nice-looking website that can be optimized to attract web traffic, without spending a lot of time or money.
You can get started in Weebly for free and set up your site in just 60 seconds, even as a complete beginner.
On the other hand, if you have more time, some coding knowledge (or access to developers), WordPress offers a lot more in the way of customization.Should You Hire A Weebly Expert?
If you don’t have the time to dedicate to building and optimizing your website, or you need it set up quickly, you can hire a professional.
But if you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and figuring things out on your own, Weebly is very easy-to-use.How Much Does Weebly Cost?
Weebly offers four plans, ranging from a free basic plan to a $26 per month performance plan. You can learn more about what’s included in each tier by visiting Weebly’s site.How Can I Promote My Weebly Website?
There are many ways to promote your Weebly site and attract more visitors.
One of the best ones is also important for SEO purposes – backlinks.
Alongside on-page SEO and content optimization, this is one of the most important ranking factors.
Here’s a list of strategies you can use to build links that will improve traffic.
Another great promotional tactic is using social media.
Weebly also gives users the option to use Weebly Promote, a platform for social media ad creation and management.
By integrating directly into your site, it allows you to connect your business’ Facebook page(s) so you can use social display networks for promotion.Conclusion
Like everything else, Weebly has its plusses and minuses.
Depending on your budget, it can be the perfect all-in-one website builder for your needs.
If you’re an experienced web professional, you may find it lacking, but it’s a great tool for new businesses or companies just launching websites.
There are a few less-than-ideal features, but overall, Weebly is a good platform for most people’s SEO needs.
With a bit of elbow grease and the tips included here, it’s quite possible to have your site show up on the first page of Google.
But like all SEO, it takes work, patience, and determination to reach the top.
Featured Image: Ashan Randika/Shutterstock
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
After years of development and teasers, OPPO has just launched its first commercial foldable smartphone — the OPPO Find N. Unlike rival foldable products, OPPO has opted for a much more compact sub-6-inch closed size, but has it finally nailed the perfect flexible form factor?
You should check out our announcement article for all the specifications and other ins and outs. Here, I want to talk about my first impressions of OPPO’s new foldable after spending a few hours with it. As a side note, this is also my first hands-on experience with any foldable smartphone. I’d like to think of myself as unjaded by the teething pains of early prototypes and I have high hopes that this phone feels like a finished product. Let’s jump right in.OPPO Find N: From prototype to prime time
OPPO has worked on six generations of foldable smartphones over the past four years but this is the first to make it past the prototype state. The company states that it didn’t feel these products were quite ready for mass-market as the timing and tech weren’t quite right. Well, that extra time has clearly been well spent — the Find N is immaculately designed and feels every bit a phone built for daily use.
There’s a metal frame running around both the display and the camera housing, accompanied by a plush soft anti-fingerprint back. It’s incredibly stylish for a smartphone, let alone a foldable. This definitely isn’t a prototype, at least aesthetically. My only gripe about the design is the inner bezels are a little thick and cheaper-looking than the outside of the phone.
The OPPO Find N is incredibly stylish for a smartphone, let alone a foldable.
Importantly, for a foldable, the hinge feels robust. OPPO sent its hinge for assessment with TÜV which says it’s built to last at least 200,000 folds. That’s enough to open and close the display more than 100 times a day, every day for the next five years. There’s a wide metal spine that’s the correct width to avoid adding a gap between the displays when closed. Everything is nice and flush with no obvious gaps for dirt and dust to find their way in on the display side. Although there is a small gap between the spine and panels to allow for movement. Unlike the Galaxy Z Fold 3, however, there’s no official water resistance on offer, though OPPO has suggested it’ll survive splashes of water.
The front and back panels of the phone wrap around this center spine with a satisfying snap when fully open. There’s a slight spring-loaded action when the display is almost fully open, which is a bit of a nuisance if you don’t want the phone quite fully open. Although the display will hold its position firmly between 50-120 degrees. I don’t recommend using the phone in a folded fashion though, as the display takes on a notable tint that impacts visibility.
The 5.48-inch 60Hz outer display is definitely not as swanky as the inner panel but it’s perfectly serviceable and far more traditional than, say, the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s awkwardly tall and thin front-facing display.
The Find N feels every bit as good in the hand as any of the premium smartphones I’ve used this year.
I actually wasn’t convinced about the phone’s small size at first. Having become accustomed to 6.5-inch panels, it’s not a display I’d personally want to spend much time browsing the web on. But that’s what the inner panel is for. The OPPO Find N’s compact front display is perfect for checking email and sending messages, exactly the sort of thing you’ll need the phone to do when you quickly pull it out of your pocket.
Overall, I’m impressed with the built quality and design of the OPPO Find N. It’s every bit as good in the hand as the many, many other premium smartphones I’ve used this year.
Software for a new form factor
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
I’m still experimenting with the Find N’s software but I’m not quite convinced OPPO has nailed this part of the formula quite as well. It doesn’t help that some features and apps haven’t been translated from Chinese, although this is the launch market so we’ll overlook that for now.
The OPPO Find N runs a standard version of Color OS 11 (based on Android 11) with a few foldable-specific tweaks. The most useful is Dual Window, which splits the display in half to use two apps side by side with a simple dual-finger swipe down the middle of the screen. This works very well and although there’s a slight delay when entering this mode performance feels solid. App support is mostly very good, although a few of OPPO’s own apps, such as the camera and phone app, don’t work with this feature. You also can’t position the windows on top of one another when turning the display, which would be a nice feature for watching video and doing something else at once.
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
Floating Window is another handy way to multitask if you still want to use the larger display to its full potential. You can quickly pinch an app down to a smaller size using four or five fingers. Sadly, once again, not every app works in this mode which limits its usefulness and makes me less inclined to experiment with it. You also can’t enter Dual Window when there’s a floating window present, which is somewhat annoying, and you can only store one app to use as a floating window at once. So it’s not as powerful a setup as Samsung’s Edge Panel.
One particularly neat feature is the option to show a camera preview on the front display, allowing your friends and family to get themselves in the frame and pose as they wish. A few of OPPO’s apps, such as contacts and messages, also leverage the larger screen size by positioning options side by side to make better use of the space. Sadly features like notifications aren’t organized in the same way. As such, the overall experience still feels like a traditional smartphone with big-screen features bolted on, rather than a completely seamless experience.
The form factor feels like it would really benefit from Android12L.
We asked OPPO about the possibility of Android 12L coming to the Find N but, since the software isn’t commercially available yet, OPPO isn’t sure if it will support Google’s big-screen OS implementation. This is unfortunate, as the phone would definitely benefit from some of the more seamless large-screen features heading our way with L. What we do know is that the phone will receive an update to Android 12 in the not too distant future.
OPPO Find N: First impressions
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
I’ve only spent a short while with the OPPO Find N but can definitely see the phone’s potential. OPPO seems to have solved most of the hardware issues that we’ve come to associate with early foldables, such as display creases and dubious hinges. However, after my albeit short first outing with a foldable, I’m still not convinced the form factor offers a big enough departure from traditional smartphones to justify the steep investment and lingering issues just yet. At least not until software comes along to streamline the app experience.
OPPO has convinced me about foldable hardware but I’m still not 100% on the software experience.
Of course, there’s the matter of availability too. The phone is launching exclusively in China and although OPPO has its eye on a potential European release it has given no firm commitments or timeframe for if or when this might happen. And at 7,699 yuan (~$1,210) up to 8,999 yuan (~$1,414), I’m still not sold on the value proposition of the Find N. Especially now that Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 3 costs $999, putting foldables firmly into mainstream flagship territory.
What do you think, is the OPPO Find N hot or not?
The dust is settling on Microsoft’s big Windows 8 launch event, but Microsoft isn’t the only company with news today. Box also had some details to share about its new Windows 8 app.
While Windows 8 is a bold shift for the venerable desktop operating system, the big unveiling was less than impressive. The Microsoft presenters often seemed more nervous and flustered than excited and confident, and the whole thing came off like Microsoft was hosting a QVC infomercial for a plethora of third-party OEM hardware options.
Overall, there wasn’t really anything new unveiled by Microsoft today, especially not in the area that most people seem to be most concerned about—apps. The significance and success of the Windows 8 Start screen—the Modern UI—seems to hinge largely on the apps that are available to provide value.
The Box app integrates smoothly with Windows 8 to give you access to your cloud data.
That’s where Box comes in. Obscured by the Microsoft Windows 8 launch event, Box today officially launched its new Windows 8 app. The Box app is precisely the sort of thing that Windows 8 needs, and arguably should have been spotlighted by Microsoft at the event, along with Skype, Evernote, Netflix, Kindle, and other key apps from major players that have invested the time and effort to embrace the new Windows 8.
Why is the Box app important? Well, it’s important for Microsoft and Windows 8 because many businesses rely on Box for storing and sharing data. The SkyDrive integration in Windows 8 is nice, but companies aren’t going to just abandon Box and migrate their data over to SkyDrive, so it’s important from a productivity standpoint that users are able to access data from Box from within Windows 8 as well.
It’s important to Box, because embracing Windows 8—which is both a desktop OS and a mobile platform depending on your perspective—is a final piece in the puzzle that delivers on the vision of Box. According to the chúng tôi website, “Box was founded on a simple, powerful idea: people should be able to access and share their content from anywhere.”
As with Facebook and Twitter—two services I recently noted are glaringly absent from Windows 8 so far—you could simply log in to chúng tôi using the Web browser. The lack of a native app doesn’t completely preclude someone from using a Web-based service like Box. But, for a touchscreen environment like a Surface RT tablet, a native app designed with touching and swiping in mind makes a huge difference.
The Box app gives seamless access to content stored on Box in a way that’s simple and intuitive from Windows 8—especially using a touchscreen interface like a tablet. For example, when viewing a folder with tons of files and folders, you can pinch-to-zoom and Box transforms to show information in a more organized fashion that helps you more easily find what you’re looking for.
The Box app can be added to the Windows 8 Start screen as a live tile that keeps you updated on activity related to the Box account. You can also pin individual files or folders to the Start screen.
If you’re considering Windows 8, you should check out the Box app. If you plan to use a Windows 8 tablet, you should definitely look more closely at the Box app. Even if you don’t currently use Box, the Box app is a great example of what you should expect from Windows 8 apps, and how a Windows 8 app can provide more functionality and a better experience than using the same service through the Web.
Technology & Cyberlaw Clinic Serves BU and MIT Students LAW offers pro bono help for cutting-edge entrepreneurs
Andrew Sellars, a School of Law clinical instructor and director of the Technology & Cyberlaw Clinic. Photos by Cydney Scott
In a School of Law seminar room, Andrew Sellars makes an object lesson of three MIT students who hacked MBTA computers back in 2008.
“They discovered a vulnerability in the Charlie Ticket system,” says Sellars, a clinical instructor and director of the School of Law’s new BU/MIT Technology & Cyberlaw Clinic. “If you knew how to edit the magnetic information on the ticket, which computer science people do, you could change the value to be whatever you wanted it to be. ‘I’d like this ticket to be $1,000, thank you.’”
The MIT students considered themselves honorable white-hat hackers, helping to find weaknesses in the system, but they also planned to share their findings at a major hackers’ conference in Las Vegas, promoting the event online with the provocative come-on, “Want free subway rides for life?”
“They were not talking to the BU/MIT Cyberlaw Clinic,” someone mutters, to laughter from the rest of the class.
The new clinic joins the year-old Entrepreneurship & Intellectual Property Clinic, another BU and MIT partnership, which deals with topics such as partnership and shareholder agreements, tax structures, and fair-use restrictions. That clinic is run by Gerard O’Connor, a LAW clinical instructor.
As Sellars tells it, both programs were planned when MIT reached out to the School of Law after several legal cases led students there (and faculty on their behalf) to ask for more legal support. “They said, ‘You’re telling us to go out there and be creative and do interesting things, but you can’t represent us if we run into trouble.’”
Transportation officials, of course, didn’t see the hackers’ white hats. They saw trouble, and they came down hard in court, winning a last-minute injunction to cancel the high-profile conference presentation and asking for a monthslong gag order. Eventually everyone calmed down, the hackers shared their knowledge with the T, and the Charlie Ticket vulnerability was fixed. But there was Monday morning quarterbacking to do on both sides, Sellars says, especially for the students. “There was a time when they could have gone to the MBTA and said, ‘We’re willing to talk to you and share this information, so you have time to fix it before we present.’”
Sellars is there to step in when a practicing lawyer is needed. And if a case gets to court, he says, they’ll likely bring in an outside law firm that can devote the resources needed.
“The clinic does a really good job balancing intellectual pursuits with actually learning about the law and also dealing with clients,” says Irina Finkel (LAW’17). “We’re experiencing clients for the first time, they’re experiencing lawyers for the first time, and it’s kind of a nice level playing field.”
Nothing quite as dramatic as the MBTA case has yet come up, and most current clients are reluctant to talk for a variety of reasons, including protecting their proprietary ideas—and the attorney-client privilege provided by Sellars’ presence.
One client willing to speak is MIT junior Caroline Mak, a founder of chúng tôi an online voter registration platform aimed at students. The site allows users to check if they are registered to vote, and to register if they are not, and running the site requires full knowledge of election laws, as well as permission to interact with a variety of state and other websites. The founders learned about the clinic from the MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund Program, which had given the start-up $5,000.
“We were really uncertain,” says Mak. “This is the real world; it’s not like we were in an incubator or an MIT hackathon. Having someone say, ‘We will represent you if there’s an issue,’ was definitely a safeguard for us to say we can try this. And to have someone say, ‘Hey, this is OK, but maybe do this also just to be safe,’ was really reassuring.”
It was also free, saving considerable legal bills for Votemate, which helped tens of thousands of voters before registration for the November election closed.
The law students say their clinic experience will have a wide variety of future applications, given the way data issues permeate the world we live in. “Every single activity at some point is going to involve technology and cyberlaw,” says Brown. “I think if you don’t have a basis in that, you’re not going to be very successful as a counselor in the 21st century.”
Gabriella Andriulli (LAW’17) has been deeply involved in health care law. “At the beginning of law school I would have looked at this and said it’s really fascinating, but I don’t see the connection to me,” she says. “Then I began to see the tremendous overlap between data security and privacy and health care law.”
In the long run, Sellars expects more student clients from BU, including from the Questrom School of Business BUzz Lab, home to BU entrepreneurship programs, student clubs, and student and alumni start-ups, but most of the dozen they’ve worked with so far have been from MIT.
Thanks to technology, “students are now capable of synthesizing biological agents from scratch, they’re capable of sending objects into space,” he says. “They are capable of a lot, and it gets tricky to know how you navigate all these issues. It’s fun to come in, because we truly do not know what is going to come up next. What is an experiment in a dorm today could be a business tomorrow.”
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Brown Joins in Call to Save Research Funding Cosigns letter to congressional leaders ahead of “fiscal cliff”
BU President Robert A. Brown is among 16 Massachusetts research university and hospital leaders urging the state’s congressional delegation to save federal funding for research. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky
The automatic federal spending cuts that are scheduled for January 2 imperil vital academic research. That’s the message BU President Robert A. Brown and peers at 15 Massachusetts research universities and hospitals have sent to the state’s congressional delegation.
“These across-the-board cuts will drastically reduce the federal research funding that we depend on to deliver innovations essential to economic growth,” the group wrote in a letter dated today to Bay State congressmen and senators. “Support for federal research funding helps to ensure our nation’s health, prosperity, and international competitiveness. It has never been more important.”
The budget cuts—“sequestration” in Washington-speak—were passed last year, in case they were needed, as an alternative to a bipartisan deficit agreement. And since a special committee assigned to find $1 trillion in cuts over the next decade couldn’t reach consensus, they were needed. Republicans on the committee refused to consider tax increases in tandem with spending cuts. Economists fear that the double whammy will cripple an economy only slowly coming out of recession.
The letter says that research subsidies from an array of agencies—the National Institutes of Health, the Defense and Energy Departments, the National Science Foundation, and NASA—have been “catalyzing discovery and entrepreneurship. The federal dollars we receive have a return far beyond their initial investment, acting as a significant magnet for private sector dollars that spur job creation in Massachusetts and beyond.”
Jean Morrison, university provost and chief academic officer, urges all citizens to speak out against the cuts. “The letter that President Brown and the leaders of Massachusetts academic and medical institutions have sent to our congressional leadership in Washington makes a clear case about the need to avoid sequestration,” says Morrison. “There are many essential activities and services in Massachusetts funded by the federal government, through a variety of agencies, that have profound and widespread impact on a great number of people. If sequestration were implemented, the negative effects would be immediate and devastating. The letter makes an excellent case, but we should all—as individuals and citizens—contact our representatives, as well, and express the importance of reaching resolution and solving this challenge.”
Muhammad Zaman, a College of Engineering associate professor of biomedical engineering, fears that the across-the-board cuts would slow progress on potentially lifesaving research such as an investigation in his lab of the metastasis of cancer cells. “Most biomedical research, including mine, is supported by federal grants from the NSF and NIH,” says Zaman. “In particular, our work on finding fundamental processes regulating cancer is funded by the NIH. Automatic budget cuts would threaten the continuation of this work that is aimed at elucidating the fundamental basis of cancer metastasis, a problem that affects millions of Americans every year. Industry rarely supports these kinds of fundamental and long-range studies. Automatic cuts would stop my lab from these pursuits, which will not only affect our research, student recruitment, and research fellow jobs in the short term, but in the long term our understanding of new and evolving cancers will be poorer without these models.”
The letter cites the $2.4 billion Massachusetts received for medical research in fiscal year 2011—“second only to California”—which, the leaders say, leveraged almost $1.1 billion from venture capital firms to biotechnology companies. Those companies created more than 3,500 jobs in Massachusetts between 2004 and 2011, “more than any other state in this area over the same period,” they wrote.
The “fiscal cliff” of $110 billion in spending cuts, coupled with the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts, also has alarmed the Obama administration, which issued 394 pages in September that outlined the hits across the federal budget.
The letter argues that “federal research and development has not been a driving force behind our deficits.
“Overall spending, at both defense and non-defense agencies, has been essentially flat in constant dollars since 2003, and despite its critical role in economic growth, federal research and development as a percent of GDP has fallen by half since 1965.
“Considering the consequential decision at hand, we hope you will work together with your colleagues to adopt balanced deficit reduction strategies that view investments in research as part of the budget solution rather than simply as an expenditure.”
Cosigning the letter, which also is being sent to local and national media, with Brown were the presidents and chief officers of Harvard, Northeastern, MIT, Tufts, the University of Massachusetts, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Joslin Diabetes Center, McLean Hospital, and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
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