APS News

APS Seeks Assistance for Tsunami Victims

APS is seeking donations to help victims of the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia last December. The donations will go to a fund to assist 24 students at Ruhuna University in southern Sri Lanka.

"After the devastation from the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia last December, the American Physical Society is reaching out to the physics community in the affected areas," said Amy Flatten, APS Director of International Affairs.

APS President Marvin Cohen wrote to leaders from the physical societies and universities in those countries hit by the disaster, pledging APS assistance however possible.

Shortly after sending the letter, the APS received a call for help from P. Samarasekara, head of the physics department of the University of Ruhuna, located in the deep southern part of Sri Lanka. Samarasekara explained that he had been informed of Cohen’s letter, which was disseminated throughout the Sri Lankan physics community.

Samarasekara wrote to Cohen regarding a fund that has been set up by the Ruhuna University Science Teachers Association (RUSTA), the RUSTA Relief Fund. The fund was established to assist 24 students who need the most immediate help. "Most of these students lost their parents and properties, including their houses," explained Samarasekara. He provided APS with a report on the damages, letters from his university’s officials, and descriptions of each student’s losses.

Donations to the RUSTA Relief Fund will provide monthly assistance to these students for books, food, and clothing during their university careers. Samarasekara offered to give APS the details of these students every month until they graduate from the university. "While the APS does not wish to impose upon the university to deliver monthly reports, we are emphatically calling upon APS members to donate to this fund," said Flatten.

APS will send a lump sum contribution after donations are received during the month of May. To contribute to the scholarship fund to help the Sri Lankan students, click on "Tsunami Assistance Donations"on the APS home page (www.aps.org).

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff