Partial Government Shutdown’s Impact on Graduate Education and Research
    January 28, 2019

    On January 25, Congress and the White House reached agreement on a temporary, three-week funding extension to keep the federal government open through February 15. The shutdown- the longest in U.S. history- lasted for five weeks and caused certain federal agencies to suspend activities critical to education and research. CGS President Suzanne Ortega called for a solution to reopen the government, and the council maintains that it is essential that a final Fiscal Year 2019 spending deal is reached to prevent futher exacerbation of the damage already caused. CGS would like to know how the government shutdown has impacted our members. Please send stories, data, or other evidence from your campus to


    The following testimonials from CGS member institutions highlight the problems faced by students, faculty, and the programs, as well as the implications for the public who are affected by federally-funded research initiatives:


    I am a fifth year student and PhD candidate in Plant Biology. I am afraid that the shutdown will not only affect my access to credible research sources, but that it may also impact the day to day operations as we rely mostly on government grants to pay our lab technicians, purchase supplies such as microbiological media, filtration devices, pcr primers and other molecular biology supplies, DNA extraction kits, etc. I am unable to acquire seeds through the USDA GRIN database system to continue research at this time due to the shutdown. I use GRIN for wild type native hops seeds and live plants, with the latter only being made available to order in early January to February.  I may not be able to acquire live plants this year at all, and will have to rely on more expensive options for seed procurement. The pedigree or breeding history of the seed is very important for my project. There are also disease resistance traits that vary between cultivars, so properly documented seed source is necessary component of my research. I worry about the accessibility and maintenance of National Institutes of Health resources such as BLAST databases during the prolonged shutdown as well. This could impact research other than my own, like cancer research, which could potentially be set back years.” -Fifth year PhD candidate


    “Two ways by which the work of my one remaining graduate student is impacted by the government shutdown are: a.) Communications with our United States Geological Survey government collaborators is turned off as they have no access to their e-mail accounts.  My student is in the process of submitting abstracts to several national and international conferences- all have deadlines for submission that need formal USGS review and approval.  b.) Submission of applications for support from various government agencies is halted and communication with program directors regarding existing awards, as is the case with the student, is blocked.”  -Microbiology faculty member


    “I know my colleague and I are approaching critical situations about getting supplements to keep postdocs working for us. One student’s National Science Foundation supplement was approved but not yet "out the door," whereas mine was viewed favorably but needs all the paperwork and approvals to be done, once the government reopens. We have a month until the postdoc is unemployed.” -Physics faculty member


    “I am a professor in the sociology department. Six months ago, I applied for a Fulbright research fellowship to Poland. I have now been officially notified that I am indeed a recipient of a 9-month research fellowship- a great honor. However, since Fulbright is a federal grant though the State Department, we won't know the amount of the fellowship. That means I am, at the moment, unable to bring this matter to the dean's office, delaying all arrangements to the unforeseeable future. The shutdown will have a number of other adverse consequences , especially with respect to our graduate student population, particularly foreign nationals accepted into our programs, who will likely face delays in the visa issuance process if the shutdown continues.” -Sociology faculty member 


    “You can mark me down as somebody whose research is suffering because of the shutdown.  More particularly, if I am to meet the deadlines on my federal grants, I currently need data or data technical support from two federal agencies: National Agricultural Statistics Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service. In each case, the shutdown is slowing my progress on research being performed under a USDA grant. In addition, I have a small supplementary grant proposal pending at USDA.  Because of the shutdown and my lack of this money, the budgeting is about to get very complicated. It would not surprise me if I wound up losing this money just because of the nature of the calendar and the very unexpected fact of the shutdown.” -Agricultural Economics faculty member


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