This blog post from Nature News tells the story of Siddharth Hegde, a German postgraduate student whose trip to NASA has been brutally cut short by the US government shutdown, potentially ruining his research.
Siddharth studies extremophiles – organisms which thrive in extreme environments. These have been cultured in the NASA Ames lab in California, and are now dying within anyone to take care of them. If all of the extremophiles die, they will have to be regrown, and with Siddharth only having a 3 month visa to the US, time is something he really can’t afford to waste.
Siddharth explains that astrobiology is extremely popular right now, and there is a serious concern that if he misses out on this great opportunity, someone elsewhere could undertake similar work and snap up the credit.
The situation is even worse for some other students at the facility, who have been told to leave their dormitories and find accommodation elsewhere in an unfamiliar city.
This is an example of how the government shutdown is already starting to have real damaging effects on the research being undertaken there. This work really matters to these individuals, and if the shutdown isn’t resolved it could be devastating for PhDs and even careers.