Government shutdown affects research

Ashley DeWolf

The government shutdown came and went, leaving the bitter taste of uncertainty on Dr. Julie Richmond’s tongue.

Richmond, a marine biology professor at UNF, was scheduled to go to the Antarctic in Nov. to study Weddell seals and their newborn pups.  Because of the government shutdown, the National Science Foundation had to pull funding for her project.

“I was supposed to go to McMurdo station, in Antarctica, but they shut down McMurdo Station to caretaker status.” Richmond said.

Several hundred support personnel who go to McMurdo to prep the facility for the scientists had to be evacuated when the station was changed to caretaker status. Only a skeleton crew remained to take care of the buildings.

While the 16-day shutdown ended Oct. 16 and the National Science Foundation was able to reopen McMurdo Station, Richardson may not be able to go to Antarctica until next year.

Richmond’s research project was supposed to be a three-year study, but if they miss a year the National Science Foundation may cut their funding.

“If we can’t collect data for this year, we have no idea whats going to happen in terms of funding,” Richmond said.

Funding isn’t the only thing that will be affected if her team is unable to collect data this year.  According to Richmond, many UNF students were depending on analyzing samples of this data for learning opportunities.

Email Ashley DeWolf at [email protected]