Funding cut puts UNM specimen collection at risk

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A museum at the University of New Mexico maintains the world’s largest archive of frozen tissue samples, but a recent National Science Foundation decision put the specimens at risk.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the NSF last month indefinitely suspended a program that funds maintenance of biological research collections like the half-million specimens at UNM’s Museum of Southwestern Biology.

Scientists argue that such collections enable a wide range of research, from the impact of climate change to how species evolve. They say some specimens would be irreplaceable if lost.

NSF normally doles out between $3 million and $5 million in grants each year to organizations that maintain natural history collections. The agency announced the suspension March 16, saying it needed to keep a flat budget and review grant programs.

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