Scientists leave behind ongoing experiments as the Category 5 hurricane whips through the Caribbean and heads toward the U.S. mainland.
As the Category 5 hurricane takes aim at southern Florida, mandatory evacuations have pushed tens of thousands of people northward.
Mote Marine Laboratory’s new coral research facility on Summerland Key has been secured, Robert Etti, the center’s housing manager, tells The Scientist in an email.
The campus’s executive director, David Vaughan, and one other staff member have stayed behind to watch over the corals. Vaughan says they took precautions, such as dividing corals between inside and outside facilities.
“We have half of our broodstock genotypes split so that we do not have all our eggs in one basket,” he writes in an email.
Nagi Ayad, a brain cancer researcher at the University of Miami School of Medicine, says he and the members of his lab have completed a university-issued checklist that includes backing up all their data to servers, unplugging nonessential equipment, connecting essential equipment to backup systems, and refilling liquid nitrogen tanks.
The researchers also had to triage their research animals, letting the team who will be caring for them know which would be the most essential to save in the event that the animal facility needs to be evacuated.“
One of his students felt conflicted because he was about to finish a mouse experiment on medulloblastoma. “He really didn’t want to leave without knowing the results of the experiment, because he had worked so hard for the experiment for a full month,” Ayad says.
“Ultimately, he decided to stay one more day and then leave after that.”