Republican businessman and reality-television star Donald Trump will be the United States’ next president. Although science played only a bit part in this year’s dramatic, hard-fought campaign, many researchers expressed fear and disbelief as Trump defeated former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on 8 November. “Trump will be the first anti-science president we have ever had,” says Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in Washington DC. “The consequences are going to be very, very severe.” Trump has questioned the science underlying climate change — at one point suggesting that it was a Chinese hoax — and pledged to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. Although he has offered few details on policies for biomedical research, Trump said last year that he has heard “terrible” things about the US National Institutes of Health; he has also derided NASA as a “logistics agency for low-Earth orbit activity“, and said he would expand the role of the commercial space industry in the US space programme.
Trump’s hard-line positions on immigration — including a pledge to bar Muslims from entering the United States, and a plan to build a wall along the US border with Mexico — have worried research advocates who say such stances could dissuade talented foreign scientists from working or studying at US institutions. “I think at the very least it would put a chilling effect on the interest of scientists from other countries in coming here,” says Kevin Wilson, director of public policy and media relations at the American Society for Cell Biology in Bethesda, Maryland. Some researchers are already thinking about leaving the United States in the wake of the election. “As a Canadian working at a US university, a move back to Canada will be something I'll be looking into,” tweeted Murray Rudd, who studies environmental economics and policy at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. (Read more reaction from scientists.)