Penn students have been raising money and mapping routes for aid workers to help relief efforts in Puerto Rico, which has been devastated by one of the worst hurricanes to hit the commonwealth. But students aren't the only ones who are working to help the hurricane victims — according to Penn News, Penn researchers have also actively been working to help those on the ground, some of whom are their own colleagues.
Physics and Astronomy professor Arjun Yodh and his colleagues work in a laboratory that shares a close relationship with the University of Puerto Rico. In 2015, the two universities received a $3 million grant to work on research that they had partnered on. Many of Yodh's colleagues work in Humacao, a municipality located on the island’s eastern coast and one of the first locations in the path of the hurricane.
“We first needed to find out the personal situation of each of our faculty collaborators and their students, as well as the physical state of the university,” Yodh said to Penn News. “Then we could begin to identify concrete ways to help.”
Penn’s Vice Provost for Research Dawn Bonnell agreed, adding, “We have extensive connections in the places where we’re doing research and collaborating. We always want to be able to respond and make sure that people are safe.”
To aid their colleagues, Penn researchers are working with researchers from Yale University, New York Univesrity and the University of Washington to send money and supplies to the field station where their colleagues work.
Several researchers have also started GoFundMe campaigns to collect money for Punta Santiago and Cayo Santiago — two regions affected by the hurricane that are also home to several groups of researchers.
The efforts of these faculty follow the successful GoFundMe campaign that Penn undergraduate students launched, and which has now earned over $200,000 for victims. Comedian Jimmy Fallon donated $20,000 to the campaign.
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