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September 12, 2005
Volume 83, Number 37
p. 9

KATRINA'S AFTERMATH

Academics Rally

Universities offer displaced students and faculty new academic homes

Elizabeth Wilson

In an outpouring of support, chemistry departments at universities around the country have agreed to take in faculty and students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

With all universities in New Orleans closed at least for the fall, up to 100 universities in the U.S. and Canada, including the University of Miami, the State University of New York, and Rice University, have pledged to make space in their labs and classrooms.

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, in particular, has become a center for evacuees, and on-campus housing has been completely filled by displaced students. "The large number of evacuees is straining our resources," LSU chemistry professor George G. Stanley says.

Other universities in less hard-hit areas, such as the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, and Mississippi's Jackson State University, are expected to open later this month.

Stories continue to pour in from the devastated area, as colleagues reach one another via e-mail and spotty phone connections. Tulane chemistry professor Scott M. Grayson reports that his colleagues Larry D. Byers and James P. Donahue, along with six graduate students, rode out the hurricane in Tulane's science building. All were eventually safely evacuated from New Orleans.

Ulrike Diebold, a physics professor and surface scientist at Tulane, who moved to a Shreveport hotel before the hurricane hit, spent several anxious days searching for colleagues and students, fearing that her basement lab was a complete loss.

Since then, she's learned that the science building escaped major damage. She now plans to go temporarily to Rutgers University, where she did her postdoctoral research. "It is unbelievable how much support is coming from friends, colleagues, and the academic community as a whole throughout the country," she says.

McGill University chemistry professor Chao-Jun Li, who was previously a professor at Tulane University, is taking in two of his graduate students who are enrolled at Tulane.

Russ Schmehl, a chemistry professor at Tulane, tells C&EN that he and four group members will be going, at least for the fall semester, to the University of Houston, "which has been tremendous." While a Houston colleague has a lot of complementary equipment, Schmehl is "hoping to be allowed to return to Tulane to pick up some small equipment and various ligands and metal complexes that are unique to our group. We have no idea when we will be allowed to return."

Chemical & Engineering News
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