Government shutdown slows down UT research projects

Government shutdown slows down UT research projects

Posted:
Some UT students are worried their graduation will be pushed back after the government shutdown led to funding cuts for research projects. Some UT students are worried their graduation will be pushed back after the government shutdown led to funding cuts for research projects.
"If the shutdown continues for a long time, I could potentially graduate a semester later because of that," said Ph.D student Nicole Lunning. "If the shutdown continues for a long time, I could potentially graduate a semester later because of that," said Ph.D student Nicole Lunning.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The government shutdown continues to have ripple effects across the country, including hampering research efforts by students at the University of Tennessee.      

Many students are worried their graduations might be pushed back if they cannot finish their federally funded research projects.      

Nicole Lunning, a Ph.D student at UT who is studying meteorites, says she is getting concerned about the shutdown.

"If the shutdown continues for a long time, I could potentially graduate a semester later because of that," she said.

Lunning says most of her research has ties to federal programs.

"I have collaborators who work in the division of meteorites at the Smithsonian, and they are not working because of the shutdown. And so, all of my research projects with them can't go forward," said Lunning.

Lunning also says she is no longer being sent samples she normally receives from NASA and the Smithsonian because of the shutdown.

A majority of the research done by students at UT have some kind of federal dollars attached to it.     

Taylor Eighmy, UT's vice chancellor for research and engagement, released this statement:

"Based on the communication we've received from the office of management and budget we are hopeful that the impact will be minimal provided the shutdown doesn't last long. Grants and contracts funded in FY 2013 or earlier should be funded as expected."    

Even though money is not an issue now, other problems continue to pop up.

"I am part of a nuclear security research group and it has affected a lot of our research," said freshmen nuclear engineering major James Ghawaly, "Not in the funding, but in the fact a lot of our information comes from government websites that were shut down."    

Ghawaly is keeping a close eye on the shutdown.

"If it lasts a long time, then it could certainly have an effect on how long our research takes," he said.    

University officials said Monday that there have already been seven stop work orders for projects that use federal dollars. Three of those involved projects with paid personnel.

Eighmy says they were able to find alternative funding to continue to support those positions.

University officials also say submittals for new grants has slowed due the electronic portals to submit to the agencies are not open. They say those will be submitted as soon as the shutdown ends.

They are monitoring the situation closely. 

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