Monday, October 7, 2013

Impacts of the Government Shutdown

Thus far, the federal government shutdown has yet to have a major impact on the operations of my research group.  We've experienced some minor inconveniences, such as not being able to access some datasets, but a few days of delay is not the end of the world.  

Other scientists, however, are experiencing real pain and are potentially looking at a substantial blow to their research efforts.  Last week, an article appeared in Nature discussing how the shutdown could force the evacuation of US research stations in Antarctica and a shutdown of the austral summer research season. 

South Pole Station.  Peter Rejcek, National Science Foundation
Antarctic research is supported primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  During the shutdown, NSF is essentially closed, with 98.5% of its employees ordered to stay at home.  NSF provides 20% of all federal research support to US colleges and universities, and this vital component of our R&D pipeline is clogged.  Proposals are not being reviewed, funding is not being processed, and, if this shutdown drags on, this is going to trickle down to gaps in staff and graduate student support at universities.

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