Hundreds of scientists and academics from around the world are offering laboratory and office space to researchers stranded by the U.S. travel ban.
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order which temporarily prohibits entry to citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen — even if they’ve already been issued visas.
That has left some scientists in limbo.
Maria Leptin, the director of EMBO, the European Molecular Biology Organization, said the ban has rippled across the world scientific community.
“People who will, say, be doing their PhD in a U.S. lab may go home to their family for a wedding in Iran or may go to a conference and then they can’t get back in. They can’t get back to their home lab. They can’t complete their project.”
“This is how science works. We share ideas, we share thoughts.” - Sabine Elowe
As a result, EMBO launched its “Science Solidarity” campaign, which called on its 1,500 mostly-European members to assist those affected by the ban.
More than 700 academics from diverse fields of study around the world, including Canada, have responded with offers to share lab or office space – even accommodations in some cases.
“This is a movement that’s really just to ease the pain of those caught up in this ludicrous situation,” said Leptin.
Sabine Elowe, a cancer researcher and associate professor at Laval University, pledged office and lab space.
“This is how science works. We share ideas, we share thoughts, and we share reagents in some cases.”
Elowe says the U.S. travel ban is career limiting for some of her colleagues and students.
“In cases it’s not the scientists themselves that are directly affected, but they cannot take their spouse with them. So what do you do now? Do you break up a family or do you try to find another solution to be able to do science?”
The numerous offers of help do come with a catch — for Canada at least. Citizens of the seven countries named in the U.S. travel ban still require a visa to be in this country unless they’re landed immigrants.