Hundreds of Scientists Offer Lab Space for People Affected by Trump Travel Ban

Scientists across the globe are offering to help those stuck abroad due to ban.

ByABC News
February 2, 2017, 12:22 PM

— -- Scientists across the globe are offering up laboratory space to U.S.-based researchers who may be impacted by President Trump’s executive order to temporarily ban most travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations.

One list started on Wednesday already has more than 460 offers of assistance after it was launched by the European Molecular Biology Organization. A spokesman for the EMBO, a professional organization based in Germany for researchers specializing in life sciences, said the group has had a new offer of help every few minutes.

"It was really a spontaneous thing," EMBO spokesman Tillman Kiessling told ABC News today of the decision to create the "Science Solidarity" list. "The entry restrictions are harming scientists and their careers."

“We are overwhelmed by the [good] will of the researchers on this list who have volunteered to help other scientists in trouble," Kiessling added.

Scientists are offering up laboratory space, desk space and even free accommodation to other researchers who may be affected by Trump's order.

The executive order has put serious pressure on the medical and scientific community because scientists often travel across the globe for conferences and to share information. For doctoral and post-doctoral students affected by the executive order, their careers could be seriously affected if they are unable to return to the labs where they have been working, scientists have noted.

Dr. Jennifer Golbeck, an associate professor at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, said a student at her college affected by the ban has been unable to get back to the U.S. to continue his work at the school laboratory.

"He's continuing the project work [abroad, but] there's a real question, 'Is he going to come back at all to finish his degree?'" Golbeck said.

Golbeck organized a list earlier this week to help people affected by the ban find new lab space or positions at research institutions outside the U.S. She said she has had 1,000 offers of support from scientists but that many of those affected so far have been relying on their academic institution for guidance and help.

"We're sort of a last resort," Golbeck said. "It's not surprising that there is a lot of existing support in the academic community."

She said she knew of one chemistry student, who wished to remain anonymous, who was affected by the order and stuck outside the U.S. He has received calls from multiple people offering to help him continue his research abroad, Golbeck said.

"He's been in touch with a lot of people," Golbeck said. "Getting into a new program, it's an administratively intense process ... [but] we had 25 people directly in touch with him."

The American Medical Association voiced its concern on Wednesday to the Trump administration that medical students and residents with legal visas were being impacted by the executive order.

"The AMA is concerned that this executive order is negatively impacting patient access to care and creating unintended consequences for our nation’s health care system," Dr. James Madara, chief executive officer of the AMA, said in a statement Wednesday. "Specifically, there are reports indicating that this executive order is affecting both current and future physicians as well as medical students and residents who are providing much needed care to some of our most vulnerable patients."

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