Tennessee State University Gets $1 Million in Taxpayer Money to Study Climate Change


A Tennessee State University agriculture professor will use nearly $1 million of taxpayer money to study how local crops adapt to climate change, according to a university press release.

The federally-funded National Science Foundation recently bestowed the money on Jianwei Li, the press release went on to say.

The press release quoted Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, as saying the grant is “very timely.”

“The climate change is there, whether politically some of us believe it or not,” Reddy said.

“It is a reality.”

The NSF may have a pro-climate change bias in how it dispenses taxpayer money.

Last year, according to The Huffington Post, four Republican senators demanded officials investigate NSF grants. These senators reported accused the federal agency of “‘propagandizing’ by supporting a program to encourage TV meteorologists to report on climate change.”

Those senators, Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Jim Inhofe, also of Oklahoma, all Republicans, said the NSF was acting out bounds with its $4 million Climate Matters program.

According to the website, the program “sponsors classes and webinars for meteorologists and provides real-time data and graphics with TV stations, went beyond the scope of the National Science Foundation’s mission of funding ‘basic research.’”

“They urged the inspector general to probe whether the grants violated the 1939 Hatch Act, which bars government agencies from engaging in partisan activity,” The Huffington Post reported.

“It is unacceptable for federal agencies to support such research which attempts to convince individuals to adopt a particular viewpoint rather than conducting objective research examining a given topic,” the senators reportedly wrote in their letter.

NSF members reportedly told The Huffington Post that their grants undergo a rigorous merit review process “considered to be the ‘gold standard’ of scientific review” and said its staff receives an annual ethics training that includes the Hatch Act.

In their press release, TSU officials said they will use the NSF money to study the effects of high temperatures on microbiome, or the combined genetic material of microorganisms in a particular environment, in cropland soils in Middle Tennessee.

The grant also seeks to specifically train young minority students in global environmental change issues, including climate change, the press release said.

Li will work on the project with co-principal investigators TSU professor Dafeng Hui, TSU associate professor Jason P. de Koff, and University of California – Irvine professor Steven D. Allison, according to the press release.

According to its website, the NSF is an independent federal agency Congress tasked with promoting scientific progress.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Jianwei Li” by Tennessee State University.





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