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Feb 25, 2013 8:45 PM by Nathan O'Neal

UA research teams brace for 'sequester' cuts

TUCSON - The budget clock is counting down to Friday as the deadline for nears for sequestration, the automatic cuts to essential services with widespread effects.

Congress and President Obama approved sequestration two years ago in case lawmakers couldn't come up with a budget. The deal included $83 million in across-the-board federal spending cuts with lost jobs and lost services.

"Sequestration" is a dirty word at the University of Arizona, or at least that's the case for many of the student and faculty who are bracing for the slashing of federally funded research.

Andrew Wall is a fifth year graduate student at the UA, researching and improving optics, using lasers, to better diagnose cancer.

"It's an experience that you can not get just from a classroom environment," Wall told News 4 Tucson.

Wall chose the UA because of its reputation in research opportunities.

"Having that research experience on the side is very important as you move forward in your career," Wall said.

The University relies heavily on federal funding, some $625 million just on research that spans a wide varierty of disciplines.

"The impact of sequestration is going to be devastating," said Leslie Tolbert, the Senior VP of Research at the UA.

Tolbert told News 4 Tucson that she fears the impending reduction in research positions and scaled back projects could end up hurting the University's appeal and reputation.

"We want students to want to come to our state universities. We want to keep them in state and develop their talents and skills so that they'll then stay in state and help us become the state we want to be," Tolbert said.

That's a tall order for the University, as it braces for huge cuts.

"Especially as an incoming graduate student," Wall speculated. "One of the first things that you're taught to ask is what the state of the funding is going to be throughout your graduate career."

While the hope is that Congress will take some action to prevent these cuts from taking effect on Friday, the research teams here are prepping for the worst.

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