Last month, Hurricanes Irma and Maria brought Category 5 destruction to the island of Puerto Rico. Now, as the nation focuses on recovery, groups are mobilizing to send supplies and provide assistance. Members of the CALS community are involved, helping to collect donations to send to Puerto Rico and also exploring how the campus community can plug into the international effort to support Puerto Rican researchers and graduate students.

A group of UW-Madison graduate students called Madison for Puerto Rico has set up donation boxes around campus and also established a GoFundMe page. The donation boxes are for supplies like food, medicine, batteries, radios and diapers to send to storm-ravaged areas. These boxes will be open for donations until the end of October in the following locations:

  • Microbial Sciences Building, near the cow on the first floor
  • Van Hise Hall, room 618
  • Signe Skott Cooper Hall
  • Student and Academic Affairs office at the School of Pharmacy, Rennebohm Hall

The campaign has been spearheaded by UW-Madison graduate students and supported by faculty. Karla Esquilin-Lebron, a CALS graduate student studying microbiology, has been actively involved in the coordination effort. She says the response from the UW-Madison community has been overwhelming thus far.

“People are being very generous, and we’re very thankful for that,” Esquilin-Lebron says. “We’re really happy for the support we’re getting from the people on campus.”

Supplies are collected and distributed.

In addition, a UW-Madison group is actively exploring the possibility of hosting displaced Puerto Rican graduate students and researchers so they can continue their work. The goal is to find faculty and staff on campus who might have space in their labs and research facilities. If you or someone you know is interested, please fill out this survey on the CienciaPR website.

Tom Browne, CALS Assistant Dean for Minority Student Affairs, says the disaster relief effort has galvanized students.

“A lot of these efforts are being driven by the students that are here. They organized the drop boxes and are working to get the word out.”