I think I have mentioned before that my wife, Luciana is doing her doctorate at Biological Chemistry Faculty at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. What I don't think I ever mentioned is how she (and many others like her) struggle with a lousy budget, little or no materials and just some good old fashioned ideas.
I won't get into how her salary sucks, or that the government doesn't provide social security to them, I'll just stick to the "scientific" side of it.
Luciana works in a laboratory with two others scholars, a post doctorate (who started working this year) and their chief. All 5 have to run their investigations, send their material for review to specialized magazines, travel and do presentations with five thousand US dollars per year (to put things in perspective, I'll just say that the antibodies they use to run tests (their most commonly used material) costs around 300 USD / month, and that is just one of many things they need to try and run experiments). That's right 5000, for 5 investigators.
As expected this can prove to be very frustrating for her. I remember last year, they were left without funds for a couple of months and Luciana would come back every day with a grim look; it must suck to be full with ideas and not having the means to test them.
Since the situation in a lot of laboratories is quite similar (although I think Luciana's is particularly poor) what they usually do is go around and borrow stuff when left without, or when they need to use specific machinery they don't have. This carries out it's own load of issues, since one must wait for a turn to use such equipment, and I've even heard Luciana saying shes embarrassed of always having to beg for stuff they need.
All of this greatly detriments academic performance, since there's little chance to re-run tests and experiments to confirm or discard findings, not to mention the delays they face due to lack of means to accomplish things the way they are supposed to be done.
From my side I'll donate one of my old PCs, besides the fact Luciana will start taking my T60p to try and help alleviate the situation.