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Science Vs. Sandy — Science Wins!

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) survived Sandy thanks to a lot of well laid preparation plans and hard work before, during and after the storm.  Being on the shores of Cold Spring Harbor since 1890, the institution has learned a few things, especially after Hurricane Gloria in 1985.  Now, as one of the largest employers on Long Island, CSHL President Bruce Stillman has made preparedness a priority.

“Keeping the world’s leading cancer and autism research going has to be our number one priority,” said Dr. Stillman, “and CSHL’s scientists were kept in business during Sandy by extremely smart and dedicated facilities, information technology, and other support staff who developed and executed an emergency plan like we’ve never seen.  Our people saved science.”

It meant getting equipment and data to higher ground, including bringing up elevators, sandbagging exterior areas and getting eight diesel operated generators to allow scientists to work, and the cafeteria to serve food. All essential scientific operations continued through the storm and its aftermath.  The only cancellation was an Oct. 29 public lecture that CSHL is planning to reschedule for the spring.

Richard Leakey is professor and chair of Turkana Basin Institute, Stony Brook University Department of Anthropology was to speak on How Hominid Evolution Has Shaped Human Behavior, Ethics And Morality. Their focus is human prehistory and related earth and natural science studies.

CSHL’s preparedness allowed for the institution to extend itself as a generous neighbor.  Nestled in the middle of the residential community of Laurel Hollow, CSHL was in constant contact with the village leadership and firefighters, police, friends and residents benefited from the Lab’s on campus food services, WiFI access and warm spaces.

Storm response did necessitate some changes. Meetings and course schedules were adjusted on the fly and visiting scientists from around the world were accommodated. Organizers of the Nuclear Receptors & Disease meeting were undaunted by the hurricane and the meeting’s 50 plus attendees issued their now-famous challenge: “Science vs. Sandy...Science Wins!” which made some waves of its own.

Science did win and their planning may inspire others in the future. Diesel generators anyone? For more information please visit cshl.edu or call the CSHL Public Affairs Department at 367-8455.