When Keivan Stassun arrived at Vanderbilt University’s department of physics and astronomy in 2003 as an assistant professor, he saw neighboring, historically black Fisk University as an obvious collaborator. The two institutions are two miles apart in Nashville. “Look, we have two good things here and they’re practically touching," he recalls thinking. "There must be something we can do with what we’ve got.”
Within three days of the BP oil spill, Joe Griffit was out in the Gulf of Mexico taking water samples to begin assessing the damage. As an assistant professor of coastal sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi, Griffit says he’s been eager to assist in the restoration efforts taking shape in the region. So when lawyers representing BP came to Griffit with an offer -- help us assess the damage and find a way to restore what’s been destroyed -- Griffit says the option was “initially very attractive” to him and some of his colleagues.