16 days and counting

Many colleagues, friends and former co-workers have contacted me following my last two blog entries to express sympathy and offer help. These days scientists from New Orleans who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina have many options. I, for example, could relocate my group to a hosting institution anywhere from California to New York. Universities and government laboratories are helping out. Sometimes the conditions in the hosting institution are so great that it is likely that our displaced fac

By | September 15, 2005

Many colleagues, friends and former co-workers have contacted me following my last two blog entries to express sympathy and offer help. These days scientists from New Orleans who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina have many options. I, for example, could relocate my group to a hosting institution anywhere from California to New York. Universities and government laboratories are helping out. Sometimes the conditions in the hosting institution are so great that it is likely that our displaced faculty will not be in a rush to return to our newly formed swamp. My colleague and friend Matt Tarr set his research group at Rice University in Houston. He is still puzzled by the existence of lab managers, multiple janitors and effective support personnel! Due to group size limitations and personal circumstances of my students and post-docs, I decided to bring half of the group (2 postdocs and 3 PhD students) to the Washington, DC, area. Students who just started the program will take online courses that will be offered by the university beginning October 10. They may join us later on. The group will continue research activities focusing on the synthesis of luminescent and magnetic nanomaterials and their use as probes to interrogate biological systems, particularly single cells. I am considering several options for space and resources at this time and hope to have a final decision by the end of the week. In addition to the incredible assistance I received from fellows in academic and government laboratories, I must also mention the great help I received from the private sector. Roper Scientific and C-Square Corporation will loan us a digital fluorescence imaging system that will duplicate the group?s capabilities in New Orleans. This will enable my research to go on with minimal interruption. The pictures we see on TV from New Orleans everyday are still very disturbing. It seems that as a society we failed miserably by abandoning the poor, sick, weak, and the elderly. Where are all these "moral values" we heard about during the last presidential elections? It is now fashionable for politicians to take responsibility for their failures but what does it mean when the President of the United States or the Governor of Louisiana "takes responsibility" for the New Orleans fiasco? I still have more questions than answers. One important thing that I?ve learned during these trying days is that everyone needs an "escape zone." Some play music, some draw paintings, some just watch football. Science is my escape zone. Thinking again about the possible toxic effects of quantum dots on cells seems odd in a time of national disaster, but to me it is the most comforting activity. So, I am doing it, and slowly but surely, I am having fun again.

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