Perhaps you may have never thought about science as a human right. But advancements in science have enabled access to basic needs - such as good health, food, and water - through the development of vaccines, improved food production, and water purification systems to just name a few.
The right to enjoy the benefits of scientific and technological progress, as well as the right to engage in scientific enquiry, was recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This Declaration was adopted on 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly as the result of the horrific events that occurred during World War II.
Science is an international enterprise based on the principles of data sharing and cooperation. In the wake of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, many organizations around the world are raising their concerns about the threats and ramifications to the free pursuit of science. "At a time when science is of paramount importance to human and environmental well-being, the ISC is gravely concerned by threats caused by war on the free conduct of science and on international scientific collaborations." - wrote in a recent tweet the International Science Council, a non-governmental organization comprised by more than 200 international scientific unions, associations, academies and research councils.
(Note: Embedded tweets don't render on email at this time but they do in the web version of the article. Click below to see the posts on Twitter if you are reading from your inbox.)
Ukrainian and Russian scientists are coworkers, colleagues, and collaborators to many in the scientific community. Researchers everywhere have been connecting on social media and looking for ways to help their fellow scientists.
Labs supporting Ukrainian scientists
A few days ago, associate professor Andrew Kern from the University of Oregon shared his desire on Twitter “to help support any Ukrainian geneticists that are displaced by the conflict”. Andrew and other scientists came up with the idea of putting together a list of laboratories, with information about their location, research focus, type of organization, and the possibility of funding. The responses to join this effort were immediate. I am sharing some of the tweets without further commentary because they are truly inspirational:
As of today, more than 450 principal investigators from many countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, China, Israel, Spain, Poland, Belgium, and many other European countries have responded to the call.
Though many unknowns remain on how to successfully implement this initiative for people needing relocation, there have been similar efforts in the past that were successful in assisting victims of natural disasters and from war-torn countries. In 2017, Hurricane María embattled the northeastern Caribbean including my home island of Puerto Rico. The hurricane knocked out trees, flattened homes, and left millions of people without power for months. Many academic institutions in the United States volunteered and opened their lab spaces to those in need. Some professors in the hosting institutions were awarded supplemental grants to help faculty and university students continue with their research and education.
Most recently, two senior staff members from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine were part of a rescue mission to help evacuate five Afghan scientists and engineers, along with their families. The Afghan scientists had worked with the Academies on a USAID-supported program and could have faced retaliation by the Taliban regime. I invite you to read the full story here: Safe Passage for Scientists: Evacuating Scientists and Engineers from Afghanistan.One of the heroes in this story is Dr. Franklin Carrero-Martínez, a colleague and friend of mine from Puerto Rico.
Do you want to help?
Please share this note, forward to a friend, and spread the word about ongoing efforts to help displaced Ukrainian scientists. Join the conversation on social media (#StandWithUkraine) and consider donating to humanitarian organizations.
"Let's do science, not war!"
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