One Year after Sandy, Uneven Recovery at New York University’s labs


How were researchers faring one year after Hurricane Sandy? I wrote this article to answer that question. I got the cleaned-up version of reality from NYU Medical Center, and the unvarnished truth from some researchers. This article appeared on, and was also syndicated on Scientific American on 29 October 2013, Hurricane Sandy’s one-year anniversary.

Walking through Gordon Fishell’s lab now, you would never know that much of his research was swept away by last year’s superstorm. Other scientists at New York University’s medical center cannot say the same.

Walking through Gordon Fishell’s lab now, you would never know that much of his research was swept away by Hurricane Sandy, almost exactly a year ago.

The lab’s staff is back at work, studying — among other things — the role of certain neurons in disorders such as autism. With gleaming floors under glowing lights, the space resembles nothing of the dark, dank disaster zone it was back then.

“It’s really hard to remember how bad it was,” says Fishell, director of the Smilow Neuroscience Program at New York University (NYU). Until, that is, he begins to recall the damage.

On 29 October 2012, ‘superstorm’ Sandy surged through the east coast of the U.S., with water levels in New York Bay reaching 13.88 feet — 2.68 feet higher than the nearly 200-year-old previous record.

At NYU’s Langone Medical Center, which sits right next to the East River, the staff successfully evacuated 322 patients, including 20 babies from the neonatal intensive care unit. But mice and machines did not fare as well.

Read the rest of the article on Scientific American‘s website.

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