Neil Sullivan

Piecing It Together

The Dean's Musings

This article was originally published in the February 2005 issue of CLASnotes.

The recent tragedy in Southeast Asia, resulting from the tsunami, and the subsequent outpouring of help and assistance from all quarters of the globe, serve to show how united humankind can be in the basic support and concern for the well being of its fellow international citizens. The college has been touched by the efforts of every sector of our community—students, staff and faculty members—who have offered help in countless ways. The effects will be with us for a long time as the world helps rebuild the devastated areas.

As academics, we also help in the long term by educating planners and leaders about developing growth in fragile areas of all kinds, and managing global networks that can detect such devastating events and provide early warnings. The technology is largely known, and significant advances can be made in improving its deployment. Further research in the geological and oceanographic sciences—bringing advanced scientific means of detection and exploration, especially in understanding and mapping subduction zones and tectonic plate movements—can help provide some improvement in advanced warning systems. Perhaps even more importantly, more extensive research in planning the development of fragile areas can make a significant difference in reducing the loss of life following these cataclysmic events. The work of our anthropologists to understand the ways in which societies live with and recover from natural disasters is critically important, and UF scientists are world leaders in this field.

As researchers, we need to consider devoting more resources to the earth sciences on a global scale. While recent scientific applications can help us map changes in the earth’s shape and its magnetic field, too little is known of the crust and its structure and dynamics. We cannot prevent such large-scale events from occurring, but we must learn to detect the pressure points and short-term consequences with better accuracy over all the sensitive areas of the globe.

—Neil Sullivan
sullivan@phys.ufl.eduThe recent tragedy in Southeast Asia, resulting from the tsunami, and the subsequent outpouring of help and assistance from all quarters of the globe, serve to show how united humankind can be in the basic support and concern for the well being of its fellow international citizens. The college has been touched by the efforts of every sector of our community—students, staff and faculty members—who have offered help in countless ways. The effects will be with us for a long time as the world helps rebuild the devastated areas.

As academics, we also help in the long term by educating planners and leaders about developing growth in fragile areas of all kinds, and managing global networks that can detect such devastating events and provide early warnings. The technology is largely known, and significant advances can be made in improving its deployment. Further research in the geological and oceanographic sciences—bringing advanced scientific means of detection and exploration, especially in understanding and mapping subduction zones and tectonic plate movements—can help provide some improvement in advanced warning systems. Perhaps even more importantly, more extensive research in planning the development of fragile areas can make a significant difference in reducing the loss of life following these cataclysmic events. The work of our anthropologists to understand the ways in which societies live with and recover from natural disasters is critically important, and UF scientists are world leaders in this field.

As researchers, we need to consider devoting more resources to the earth sciences on a global scale. While recent scientific applications can help us map changes in the earth’s shape and its magnetic field, too little is known of the crust and its structure and dynamics. We cannot prevent such large-scale events from occurring, but we must learn to detect the pressure points and short-term consequences with better accuracy over all the sensitive areas of the globe.

Credits

Writer

Neil Sullivan
sullivan@phys.ufl.edu

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