• Support for Scientists during Emergencies and Natural Disasters​

    A centralized resource and database for research and education disaster relief information

  • News

    Updates on our recent activity

    Puerto Rico Humanitarian Relief Donation Drive

    In response to the devastation in Puerto Rico, my husband and I worked in collaboration with local businesses and members of the community to host a civilian sponsored and led donation drive.

    Unidos Por Puerto Rico DMV and PRFAA took our donations to distribute on the island. A summary of the event can be found here!

    Urgently Needed Items for PR!

    Unidos Por Puerto Rico DMV is asking for specific items. Our family in PR is reporting that we must think of what one would need when camping - those are the types of items they desperately need.

    We have created an Amazon idea list containing examples of items that would help. If you decide to donate material goods, this list is meant to provide you with the exact items that are needed.

  • About


    This website was created to provide a centralized center for information regarding government, non-profit, academic, industry, and grass-root efforts providing and requesting assistance in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. There are plenty of opportunities but they are difficult to find and filter through.


    You will find information regarding funding opportunities, tuition assistance, research reagent assistance, graduate student and postdoctoral fellow relocation assistance, and NIH diversity supplements for displaced researchers.


    You can also find information on how to host a humanitarian donation drive, donating materials, donating money, or volunteering your skills to the community in Puerto Rico.


    If you are a part of a community suffering from the damage caused by natural disasters or other emergencies and are looking for resources, I hope you can find some here. If there aren't any that benefit you in your recovery, contact me with your specific situation and I will look into what opportunities are available or extend to you. If you an opportunity or details pertaining to one are missing, contact me with the content that needs updating.


    This resource is meant to be updated as we progress through future hurricane seasons, earthquakes, fires, flooding, and other increasingly severe and frequent natural disasters.

    About Me

    My name is Melissa V. Fernandez and I am currently working on my postdoctoral fellowship in HIV-host cell interactions. I was born and raised in sunny Florida where I survived many hurricane seasons. After completing a Masters in Chemistry at Florida International University, I move to NYC to complete my dissertation work on the human innate response to acute influenza infection. While working at NYU, SuperStorm Sandy hit New York and New Jersey causing widespread flooding and devastation. I lived in the blackout zone, and spent about a week without power and working on trying to recover what I could of my work and samples. Essentially all was lost. I was better off than some of my peers since I worked with human blood samples and did not need any animal models or specifically engineered cell lines for my work.


    My project took about a year to recover from the loss, and some of my classmates were delayed even longer and had lost much more in terms of the effort it would require to recreate their disease models. Relative to the 2017 Hurricane Maria damage, we were better off in many ways. Primarily, we were on the mainland US, which meant we could walk out of our blackout zone and request assistance from colleagues at nearby institutions in Manhattan. We also had access to clean water, fresh food, and generous friends who let us have hot showers, crash on their couches, and use their laundry facilities if need be.


    Not all areas are as accessible as NYU was. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are geographically unique for the United States not only for being in the Caribbean, but for being in the path of aggressive storms. As our climate changes, we will continue to see more severe weather and disasters that will impede the progress of our lives and our economies. By taking a look at the past, we can confidently predict that situations such as Hurricane Maria in USVI and PR will repeat themselves, and we should be ready to respond with assistance to recover the stability of our communities and scientific progress of our colleagues.


    Credit to CienciaPR for the majority of the information contained on this page and for advocating for education and science on the island of Puerto Rico. If you live on the island and need related information or assistance, please visit their website and contact them. They are your advocates!


    Further credit to my husband, Roberto de Cespedes, for helping make this resource and for the various individuals working behind the scenes to connect me to further information.

  • Need Help?

    Funding Opportunities

    The following is a list of funding opportunities for science and student victims of Hurricanes Irma/Maria/Harvey. If you are aware of any other opportunities or any inaccuracies, please submit the necessary information to update this list.


    The list is split into two categories to simplify identifying the opportunities that apply to you: Those specific to residents of Puerto Rico, and those that are not specific to any hurricane.


    Puerto Rico specific opportunities


    General opportunities

    • American Physiological Society (APS) - APS has allocated $100,000 for a Hurricane Relief Fund to assist young APS member-researchers in their rebuilding efforts following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Applications are now being accepted for grants of up to $2,000 which are intended to help graduate students and postdoctoral fellows impacted by the storms to replace belongings, pay for relocation costs and get back on their feet. Funds do not have to be used toward research-related expenses: http://www.the-aps.org/mm/hp/Audiences/Public-Press/2017/61.html
    • National Science Foundation (NSF) – NSF is accepting research proposals related to Hurricane Maria: https://www.nsf.gov/naturaldisasters/
    • American Society for Microbiology (ASM) - ASM is make accommodations for students in the affected regions to ensure they can still attend and present at ASM’s Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). Special travel funding has been made available to students who contacted ASM in need of assistance. Abstract deadlines were also extended and arrangements are being made for students who don’t have internet, electricity and resources to prepare for their presentations. Please contact abrcms@asmusa.org ASAP.

    NIH Extramural Response to Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies

    General Response

    The NIH has responded to this season's series of hurricanes and other disasters in a similar manner to their response after Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Superstorm Sandy in New York City. The program announcement responding to the 2017 storms can be found here: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/natural_disasters.htm


    A summary of the response is as follows:

    • Permitting the limited expenditure of award funds, in accordance with grantee policy, to continue paying salaries and fringe benefits to researchers under unexpected or extraordinary circumstances.
    • Assisting with animal welfare issues.
    • Waiving certain prior approval requirements.
    • Providing extensions of time for financial and other reporting.
    • Publishing opportunities for funded extensions and/or one-time administrative supplements to current awards targeted at institutions in particularly impacted areas.
    • Late submission of electronic and paper applications. Applications submitted late must include a cover letter indicating the reasons for the delay. The delay should not exceed the time period that the applicant organization is closed.

    Please direct all inquiries to:

    Division of Grants Policy

    Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration

    Office of Extramural Research

    Telephone: 301-435-0949




    Division of Receipt and Referral

    Center for Scientific Review

    Telephone: 301-435-0715

    Email: csrdrr@mail.nih.gov

    Diversity Supplements!
    NIH Diversity Research Supplement - If you are hosting an eligible trainee displaced by the recent hurricanes and they will be doing work related to your eligible NIGMS grant, you may want to consider applying: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-16-288.html

    National Library of Medicine (NLM) Emergency Access Initiative (EAI)

    The EAI is a collaborative partnership between NLM and participating publishers to provide free access to full-text from more than 650 biomedical journals and more than 4,000 reference books and online databases to healthcare professionals and libraries affected by disasters. It serves as a temporary collection replacement and/or supplement for libraries affected by disasters that need to continue to serve medical staff and affiliated users. It is also intended for medical personnel responding to the specified disaster.



    NSF Response to Natural Disasters

    The NSF will take the following measures for those located in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other hurricane-impacted islands. In summary:

    1. Extend the end dates of existing awards that are scheduled to expire on November 1, 2017.
    2. Accept research proposals related to Hurricane Maria.
    3. Extend the deadline for applicants and reference writers of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) until 5:00 p.m., submitter's local time, Friday December 29, 2017. Submitter's local time is determined by the applicant's mailing address.
    NSF Guidance to Natural Disasters: https://www.nsf.gov/naturaldisasters/

    Grassroots Efforts to Assist Fellow Scientists



    Student Assistance Opportunities

    Student Tuition & Registration – Many schools are offering in-state tuition and waiving admission fees to students from PR, USVI, and Houston displaced by Hurricane Harvey Irma and Maria: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/09/29/caribbean-universities-deal-damage-hurricanes-irma-maria

    The Florida Board of Governors has mad public a list of contacts at the different Florida schools for students impacted by Hurricane's Maria and Irma: http://www.flbog.edu/_doc/University_Contacts.pdf
    The Florida Board of Governors has also published a list of academic programs each institution offers: https://prod.flbog.net:4445/pls/apex/f?p=136:46:0::NO::::YES

    Tips for Students & Investigators Seeking Placements in Labs (from CienciaPR)

    1. Contact the PI with whom you or your trainee would like to conduct research. Seek a placement in a lab that is proficient in the techniques you want to pursue and/or where you might establish a collaboration
    2. Discuss the details of the placement: space, available facilities and reagents, start date, duration, lodging, travel, and if a student, courses or tuition and registration. It is recommended that you get a final agreement in writing (e.g. signed letter)
    3. If additional funding is needed, contact one of the sources listed here for funding.

    American Association for Medical Colleges (AAMC) Response - The AAMC expressed support to the four LCME-accredited U.S. medical schools in Puerto Rico: Ponce Health Sciences University School of Medicine, San Juan Bautista School of Medicine, Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine, and University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine. Up to date information can be found here: https://www.aamc.org/members/482544/hurricane-response.html


    NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program: GRFP has implemented a special process for individuals for whom it is impossible to submit by the published deadlines. If this applies to you, email grfp@nsf.gov with subject line: GRFP Waiver Request for 2018 Competition as soon as possible before December 29, 2017. Include your name, description of your situation, contact information, and field of study (for applicants) or name of applicant (for reference writers). Waivers will be reviewed on a case by case basis. https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/grfp/

  • Want to Help?

    Material Donations

    Volunteer Opportunities

    • Calling all Coders - If you have coding, programming, or technical skills, Startups of Puerto Rico has opened a registry to connect with organizations or agencies with pressing needs in Puerto Rico. This "inventory" of talent will be connected with opportunities to help develop support services or create and innovate new solutions. To register: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScnO5zFzvVEVJhuC5banaiQQsFjFy1SUX_arsk3rE5eIv9PNw/viewform
    • FEMA Surge Capacity Force - Federal employees have the opportunity to obtain special permits to assist in the reconstruction of Puerto Rico through the FEMA Surge Capacity Force. Specifically, FEMA is looking for expertise in logistics, IT, communications, environmental and historical preservation, finance, procurement, insurance, infrastructure (including engineers), etc. It is recommended that those interested register through the PRFAA page to be assigned to work in Puerto Rico. http://prfaa.pr.gov/unitedforpuertorico
    • Doctors Brigades - A group of health organizations are helping to organize brigades of doctors and other health experts. The National Alliance for Hispanic Health, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Hispanics, has teamed up with Project HOPE, an organization that specializes in bringing medicines and health experts to areas impacted by disasters. Specifically, it is expected that they will be looking for internists, infectious disease experts, family physicians, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and mental health professionals.
    • General Volunteers - The Puerto Rican chapter of the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD) seeks volunteers interested in connecting with public services and disaster relief organizations. They ask that people not go to Puerto Rico to help on their own as they could create an additional burden.
      You can register here: https://www.nvoad.org/howtohelp/volunteer/
    • All Hands Volunteers - All Hands takes a unique approach and accepts spontaneous volunteers from any background or faith, providing on-the-job training free of charge. This broadens our capability to help those in distress, offers a transformative experience to those who serve with us, and brings a wider pool of skills to the relief effort. You can apply to help the following affected areas: Nepal, Louisiana, Peru, Texas, US Virgin Islands, and Florida. For more information, visit: https://www.hands.org/volunteer-with-all-hands-volunteers/

    Financial Donations

    ​When giving money to an organization, please check the legitimacy of the organization carefully. GoFundMe's can be set up by individuals and 501c3's alike. Typically science organizations hold 501c3 status. Another advantage to donating to a 501c3, is you can most likely deduct the donation on your taxes! But please do your research carefully. SSEND does not endorse any particular project, but simply wants to help you find a project to donate to that speaks to your values.


    • Give Safe Water to PR - My colleague Marieli Gonzalez has started a gofundme to raise money to get personal filters and chlorine tablets to vulnerable people. These filters turn up to 100,000+ gallons of contaminated water into safe drinking water. They are portable and easy to use. In addition, they decreased plastic waste. Buying the filters is just step one. She will be making sure the filters arrive to PR and directly in the hands of people in need. She will be documenting every step of this effort on her facebook page. https://www.gofundme.com/safewaterforPR​
    • AAAS Caribbean Division - The American Association for the Advancement of Science has made a $10,000 donation to the AAAS Caribbean Division and is reaching out to its membership to summon additional financial contributions to help Puerto Rico restore its scientific infrastructure. The online donation campaign for the AAAS Caribbean Division allows individuals, companies, and organizations to make tax-deductible contributions. https://www.supportaaas.org/PuertoRico
    • Cayo Santiago Primate Research Center - This island off the shore of Puerto Rico is one of the most important wild primate research centers. Its facilities are used by the international scientific community to understand primate behavior, cognition and ecology. The monkey population survived but help is needed to rebuild the infrastructure that sustains the scientific research carried out here. There are two crowdfunding campaigns taking place: 
    • The Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center has created a crowdfunding campaign in order to 1)  buy and install a power generator for the rehab tanks filters, 2) by a walk-in refrigerating half trailer for storing manatee food, 3) rebuild and make functional the manatee veterinary clinic and labs, and 4) repair and re-install the quarantine pool. The Conservation Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization lead by the Caribbean Stranding Network and the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. To make your donation you can visit the following link: https://www.gofundme.com/manatee-center-hurricane-recovery
    • Arecibo Observatory Staff Aid - The Universities Space Research Association (USRA), a 501c3 nonprofit, has established a fund to provide eligible staff at Arecibo Observatory with qualified disaster relief payments for emergency needs, medical care, home repairs, etc., resulting from Hurricane Maria and other qualified disasters that may strike Puerto Rico in the future. USRA will oversee the independent distribution of donations.  All funds received by USRA will be provided entirely to affected staff and their families: https://www.gofundme.com/AreciboStaffAid-USRA
    • Proyecto ENLACE - This organization works to leverage efforts from the community, private sector, and the government to improve the quality of life of 27,000 people that live around Caño Martin Peña, one of the poorest and most contaminated communities in Puerto Rico. You can make a tax exempted donation here: https://www.gofundme.com/cano-martin-pena-relief-fund
    • #RegrowPuertoRico - Following Hurricane Maria, approximately 80% of the crop value in Puerto Rico was lost. Students from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems have created a crowdfunding campaign to donate funds to efforts directly supporting sustainable agriculture in Puerto Rico: Fondo Resiliencia de Puerto RicoHuerto Semilla UPR-RP, and Desde mi huerto. This page provides information of funds distribution and information on how to make a donation: https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/regrow-puerto-rico--2
    • Para la Naturaleza - is a non-profit organization integrating society into the conservation of Puerto Rico’s natural ecosystems. After Hurricane María, the organization is focusing on communities around their natural reserves that have suffered serious damage, particularly in the towns of Ponce, Barranquitas, and Manatí. The Para la Naturaleza Community Fund will help rebuild and revitalize these communities. Para la Naturaleza is a 501(c)(3) organization: http://www.paralanaturaleza.org/centros/donate.html
    • University of Puerto Rico’s Se Levanta Fund - The UPR is the main public university system of Puerto Rico and has approximately 58,000 students and 5,300 faculty members.Three of its institutions are the top 3 producers of Hispanic bachelors that go on to attain PhDs, many of them in the STEM fields. To make a donation to the UPR SE LEVANTA fund (UPR RISES), which will help students, professors and staff who are in need after Hurricane Maria, use your bank’s ACH or transfer mechanism to deposit to Banco Popular, PO Box 362708, San Juan, PR 00936, routing #: 021502011, account #: 030083338 : http://www.upr.edu/upr-se-levanta/

    How Academic Institutions Can Help!

    CienciaPR has created a wonderful guide on how one can get their institution to help and make their help accessible.


    How to get your institution to help: https://www.cienciapr.org/en/blogs/equipo-informa/hurricane-maria-how-institutions-can-help


    Form letter for asking your institution to help: https://www.cienciapr.org/en/blogs/equipo-informa/ask-your-institution-respond-wake-maria

  • Reagent Request

    Coming Soon!!!

    We are moving forward with planning and arranging an exchange for scientists to replenish their reagents and equipment. We are aware of the difficulties and cost of shipping and equipment transfer and are actively looking into way to streamline the process and facilitate transfer of reagents to Puerto Rico. We hope this service will function as a central point for requesting and offering help in the future to affected areas.


    In the meantime, CienciaPR has set up a registration for offering or requesting science and academic related aid: https://yalesurvey.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6YigLXts7kTr2YJ


    If you can offer any services in this area, please contact me via the form below.

  • Contact Us

    Let us know if you learn of any other opportunities that can help the community or how this website can be more helpful.