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Sometimes being a scientist is exciting because we travel to remote destinations or make new discoveries. But sometimes it’s “exciting” for other reasons…

This weekend both Cory (JP Student Cory Berger) and I were in the lab, taking care of our Nematostella colony and generally catching up on research. I was kind of grouchy because I had “thrown out” my back the day before. Sitting, standing, walking…all of it was pretty uncomfortable. I finally gave up on working and had just left the lab when I got a phone call from Cory. He sounded a little flustered as he briefly told me that a ceiling panel had fallen in the lab. A fallen ceiling panel didn’t sound like such a big deal, but I decided it was easier to see for myself than to ask questions.

When I got there, I saw a big mess! A water pipe in the ceiling had sprung a leak, eventually saturating the ceiling tile and causing it to collapse. Cory was valiantly mopping up a growing puddle and trying to contain the disaster. After I got there, we worked through WHOI Security to contact the plant mechanic on call. While we waited for him to arrive, we moved all our equipment and supplies away from the water, put buckets and barrels under the leak, and scooped up the soggy old ceiling material. Because I had a sore back, Cory got stuck doing most of the lifting. I got the glamour job of trying to wash off the chair that all the mess had fallen onto.

We were lucky…Rich, the mechanic on call was nearby! He arrived within a few minutes with his “helper” (see picture above). Rich was able to put a pressure clamp onto the leak and stop the mess almost immediately. It was almost too easy (I don’t want to jinx us…there are still a lot of pipes in the ceiling above all our equipment, samples and data!). I keep thinking about how lucky it was that Cory was in the lab when it happened. It almost makes me want to spend a lot more hours in the lab….almost.