STILLWATER — When researchers at major universities need funding for a project, they typically turn to federal grants or private foundations.
But Oklahoma State University researcher Kristopher Bradley is looking for funding from a less traditional source — anyone who's interested and has a few dollars to spare.
A researcher in OSU's psychology department, Bradley is looking at the psychological processes that are at play in cases where police mistakenly shoot unarmed black men. He is one of a growing number of researchers to seek funding from the public, a few dollars at a time.
Bradley listed his project proposal on Microryza, a crowdfunding site geared toward academic researchers. The site allows donors to give money to research projects that interest them. Bradley's project, titled “Unintended Consequences of Racial Profiling and the Jury's Response,” has a goal amount of $15,000.
Until a few weeks ago, Bradley had never heard of Microryza, he said. Then he received an email from the company. It seemed like a novel idea, he said, and he liked the fact that the public would be involved in the project.
A number of research fundraising sites have launched over the past two years using the crowdsourcing model, including Petridish.org and FundaGeek. Sites such as these offer researchers an alternate avenue to fund their work at a time when more traditional funding is becoming scarce.
Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation announced its budget would be reduced by $356 million due to federal budget sequestration. Foundation officials said that cut would mean fewer grants for researchers nationwide.
The National Institutes of Health also predicted 700 fewer competitive research grants after the agency saw its budget slashed by $1.55 billion due to sequestration.