“Puerto Rico Is Strong”: Outreach Campaign to Help Scientific Community in the Caribbean

Following a series of devastating hurricanes in the region, Washington University in St. Louis (WU) and Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR), a local nonprofit organization promoting the advancement of science, are leading an outreach campaign to assist fellow faculty and students in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in accessing important information and resources.

WU’s Office of the Vice Provost of Faculty and Institutional Diversity has created a small fund to assist in bringing a faculty member in any STEM discipline from Puerto Rico to work in a lab and/or pay for housing. In addition, APS Fellow and Board Member Deanna Barch, currently the Chair of the Psychological of the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department at WU, is hoping to offer a summer position to a student from Puerto Rico for paid research work. She hopes that small efforts like these will inspire other departments across the country to pitch in however they can, too.

If interested in assisting, departments and offices are encouraged to work with their Provosts and Deans to set aside funds or resources that might be helpful for faculty and students in need.

Edith Brignoni-Pérez, an APS Graduate Affiliate pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience at Georgetown University and a Puerto Rican native, encourages the scientific community to also spread the word about any alternative ways of helping those affected by the hurricanes.

“I know that the scientific community all around us is strong, so it is a key moment to show our support to our colleagues,” she says.

For additional ideas and resources on how to help the scientific community affected by the recent hurricanes, visit CienciaPR’s website. For volunteer opportunities and donations, check out CienciaPR’s flyer here.

Any questions and information about available resources can be submitted through CienciaPR’s registry to provide assistance to scientists and students impacted by the hurricanes.


Thank you for this effort. I am in San Juan Puerto Rico. I work at Albizu University; where we have over 300 graduate students in Psychology.

Our daily reality three weeks after the hurricanes is spending most of the day in long lines at banks seeking cash (our electronic systems collapsed and are not yet back), getting water from government tanks, or in lines in partially opened stores that are rationing one or two containers per family (most of the Island still has no access to running water), and going to several stores trying to buy food for our family, pets, and perhaps neighbors that no longer count with resources of their own. Going from home to work might now take four hours for a daily 45-minute commute. Many main roads are still closed, there are no traffic lights and the lingering rains are bringing floods all around, rendering transportation negligible. Most of us have no electricity at home, no refrigeration, no water, no means of communication.

I am particularly concerned about our graduate students, especially those in dissertation stage.

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