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It’s still a weird time. Massachusetts is slowly re-opening in the midst of a lot of uncertainty. Here at WHOI, our facilities are still closed, except for a few essential functions. I’ve been briefly coming into the lab twice a week to maintain my Nematostella colony. After I finished one of these recent visits, I pulled out of the parking lot only to find out that I had a flat tire.

I fiddled with my phone for a while, deciding between calling AAA, calling a friend to help, and trying to sort out the problem on my own. As I was trying to come up with a plan, a man came up to the car and offered to help. I very gratefully accepted. I turns out the my car was missing a jack, I was kind of clueless about how to set up the jack, and I had no idea how to loosen really tight lug nuts. I will be marginally more competent next time this happens…though I still need to buy a jack.

Fortunately, the “good Samaritan”, Daniel Cojanu sorted out my problem in a jiffy. And best of all, it turns out that our paths had crossed before. Because it’s the very small world of Woods Hole, and of course they had. Daniel is a cinematographer, and he filmed and helped to produce Science in a Time of Crisis, which documented some of the ways in which WHOI scientists and engineers responded to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Along with collaborators, I was studying how oil, dispersant and UV radiation interacted to affect Nematostella physiology. I’m featured in the part of the documentary posted here (My interview starts around 4:15). I was recovering from a very bad cold at the time (you can tell my scratchy voice), but dragged myself in to do the interview. Seems funny looking back…if that had happened today, I would certainly have been self-isolating and doing my interview virtually.

The whole incident really struck me. First it was refreshing to talk to a real person (masked-face-to-masked-face). And then it was comforting to be reminded that despite all the current chaos and uncertainty that there are a lot of good people out there. We all do our best to face each crisis that comes our way and continue to produce new scientific knowledge.