Image by Pia Christensen
Why did the chicken cross the road? We’ve never known, but we may soon find out thanks to a United Kingdom project that aims to study human-chicken interactions.
It’s no joke, and it’s caused quite a flap across the pond because it’s costing taxpayers there £1.95 million, or roughly $3.1 million. Not everybody thinks it’s a crazy idea. Nature recently ran an editorial defending the research. The journal editors write:
We know surprisingly little about the history of human–chicken relations, such as how chickens first came to Britain.
Reading about that project got me thinking … in this era of sequestration cuts, what research projects have wrangled scarce public dollars in this country, and how much are we paying for them?
You can search government grants for research in a few places. Grants awarded by the federal department of Health and Human Services can be searched using the TAGGS tool, for Tracking Accountability in Government Grants.
A quick advanced search on the keyword “chicken” turned up four studies of chickens, but no foul play. Two studies deal with chicken genes, one is using chickens as a model for human disease, and the last is researching how chickens become colonized with bacteria that gives humans food poisoning.
You can also search grants by state, institution, and the name of the investigator.
The NIH has a different grant searching tool called RePORTER (Research Online Grant Reporting Tools). Using the advanced search there, the term “chicken” turned up 132 results, mostly because it also pulled up studies of chickenpox.
In addition to the keyword search you can search by funding category, location, and the names of investigators.
Have you used these tools to enterprise stories? Tell us about it in the comments section below. Don’t forget to include a link to your story.