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Shutdown Slowing Penn State Research

Two weeks into the shutdown and it's starting to take its toll on some classes and research projects at Penn State.
PENN STATE, UNIVERSITY PARK - Two weeks into the shutdown and it's starting to take its toll on some classes and research projects at Penn State.

During a news conference Tuesday, President Obama repeated his appeal for a vote in the house on a Senate-passed measure to reopen the federal government.

He says he's willing to talk, but not if it comes with threats.

The president is also calling for swift action on raising the debt ceiling so the government can pay its bills.

With many of the government websites down, data used for research and other projects at universities across the nation aren't available. Now, students and teachers at Penn State are feeling the burden.

"It's frustrating for them," Director of the Population Research Institute at Penn State, Jennifer Van Hook, said.

She's had it up to here with the government shutdown.

"I have to say to students, I'm sorry, but you can't do part of this assignment, you're going to have to put that off and do the other part instead," she said.

Van Hook's students say now, doing projects are even more of a headache since sites like the Census Bureau are shutdown.

"We use that information to make comparisons across groups so we can see how unequal everybody is, in terms of life expectancy," she said. "It's a problem for them."

She's not the only one.

"It's extremely inconvenient," Sophomore research student, Devon McCrossin, said. "I wish I could use the models and learn more. Hopefully the government will start back up soon so I can, or else I will probably have to postpone my project to next semester."

McCrossin is looking forward to a research conference in March to share her research on locating threatened coral species, but isn't sure she'll be able to meet her early deadlines, something her adviser doesn't want to see happen.

"It really is quite frustrating because here we have some really bright, young scholars who are passionate about what they do," Associate Professor, Iliana Baums, said. "They're being delayed and like all of us, they're on a deadline."

It's a problem Van Hook sees across the university and worries what will happen if the shutdown isn't over soon.

"A lot of our staffing is funded by the grants we receive from the government, that trickles down," she said. "It doesn't just affect our researchers, it affects the students they employ, it affects the science we're producing, it slows everything down."
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