Seed World

Why the Brexit Vote Result has UK Scientists Terrified

Brexit — the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union — is raising urgent questions for the future of the UK.

Among the many communities gobsmacked by Thursday night’s voting results is UK scientists — who depend heavily on EU membership for research funding, collaboration, and recruitment of top talent. Their access to Europe’s large pool of research funding is now at stake, as is their ability to share knowledge across borders.

Some of the most dramatic recent advances in science in Europe depend on international collaboration. And so the Brexit is also a huge morale blow. It could mean there will be fewer opportunities for sharing ideas and more limited means for Britons to join the most important projects happening in their fields.

As the Economist points out, the UK represents just 1 percent of the world’s population but is home to 4 percent of all scientific researchers. Those scientists produce 16 percent of the most highly cited research papers in the world. The UK punches heavily above its weight when it comes to science.

But EU membership helps fuel that UK powerhouse, both by providing funding for research projects and by enabling an international science culture, which hastens the flow of people and ideas to the country.

So the 52 percent vote in favor of Brexit Thursday night shocked many British researchers who were hoping to remain in the EU.

Read more over at Vox: