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The I of the Storm

I was talking Katrina aftermath with a yeast scientist, George Santangelo, at the University of Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. Things were ?a little nasty? he said, even that far inland -- he?s roughly 50 miles from the Gulf. But he ?obviously has no complaints relative to folks further south.? The gulf coast campus apparently suffered significant damage. In Hattiesburg things fared rather well, but it will take until the next rainfall to see if roof repair holds up. It?s nice, Santangelo said, t

By | September 16, 2005

I was talking Katrina aftermath with a yeast scientist, George Santangelo, at the University of Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. Things were ?a little nasty? he said, even that far inland -- he?s roughly 50 miles from the Gulf. But he ?obviously has no complaints relative to folks further south.? The gulf coast campus apparently suffered significant damage. In Hattiesburg things fared rather well, but it will take until the next rainfall to see if roof repair holds up. It?s nice, Santangelo said, that reagents companies are offering 50% off on replacements lost due to power outages. He also told me that a colleague at University of Alabama had also made offers of lab space to anyone displaced by the storm. Santangelo?s lab does have some positions open, and I said I would plug the group for him. Obviously the outpouring of support and offers for help have been extraordinary, and the life sciences field appears no less willing to bootstrap colleagues. Blogs, forum-style message boards (such as the one that will be appearing soon on The Scientist), and job sites should pool their resources in trying to develop a temporary lab-placement network. I?ve seen a few examples, and all speak to the emotions this devastating event has brought about. People aren?t just offering lab space, they?re offering extra beds. The Association for Women in Science has a particularly moving message board. The National Association for Independent Colleges and Universities has a huge compilation of Universities accepting displaced students, faculty, families, and alumni. The chronicle of higher education has kept regular updates from affected schools and those offering help. Santangelo told me that the destruction he saw in Hattiesburg was a testament to the power of this storm, the likes of which very few in that city had ever seen before. Granted, some complain that the internet can only help those who have access to it, but the power to connect people ? especially considering that affected universities will have to effectively operate in virtua for the next several months ? is bound to show itself.
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