Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, January 14, 2010

U-M experts available to comment on Haiti disaster and aftermath

Jan. 13, 2010
Contact: Joe Serwach (734) 647-1844,

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan has many experts who can comment on Haiti and the issues facing it in the aftermath of a massive earthquake that may have killed thousands.

They include experts on a host of issues related to this ongoing story, including:

Ruth Barnard, associate professor emeritus of nursing, helped found the first nursing school in Haiti that offers a four-year baccalaureate program just 20 miles west of Port-au-Prince in Leogane. On Wednesday, Barnard was still trying to make contact with colleagues there. She can discuss the country’s public health infrastructure (Haiti has 10.7 nurses for every 100,000 citizens compared to a 900/100,000 ratio in the United States). Barnard has traveled to Haiti about a dozen times and was last there in September for the nursing school’s second graduation ceremony. She can be reached at (734) 995-0281 or

Marvin Chocotte is a doctoral student in history whose research focuses on the social history of Haiti. He can talk about the history and politics of Haiti. His parents are from Haiti and he grew up in a section of Flatbush, Brooklyn, heavily populated by Haitian immigrants so he can also speak about the reaction of the Haitian-American community. He can be reached at (973) 393-8826 or

Larry John Ruff, professor of geological sciences, is an expert on earthquakes and earthquake prediction whose current research is on the triggering of quakes. He is available afternoons and evenings. He can be reached at (734) 763-9301 or For more information visit:

Adda Athanasopoulos-Zekkos, a civil engineering assistant professor, studies how structures interact with soils during seismic events and can discuss the response of levees to natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. She can be reached at (734) 764-0057 or For more, visit:

Ben van der Pluijm, U-M’s Bruce R. Clark Collegiate Professor of Geology and Professor of the Environment, has done extensive research focused on earthquake faulting, and he can also address general questions about earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural hazards. He can be reached at (734) 647-8788 or (734) 763-0373 or
For more information: or

Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, associate professor of history & American culture is interim director of  the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies and can speak about modern Latin American and Caribbean history. He is the author of “A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo and New York after 1950.” He can be reached at (734) 647-0253 or For more, visit: or

JoLynn Montgomery, a communicable disease epidemiologist in the Department of Epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health, can discuss control of communicable diseases, disease surveillance systems, and public health emergency preparedness and response. Montgomery can be reached at (734) 763-2330 or

Matthew Boulton, associate professor of epidemiology and associate dean for practice in the School of Public Health, is also principal investigator for the Michigan Center for Public Health preparedness. Boulton is the former chief medical executive and state epidemiologist for the Michigan Department of Community Health where he served as the lead scientist/epidemiologist from 1998-2004 and was responsible for all communicable disease control and surveillance, immunizations, vital records and health statistics, and environmental exposure monitoring for acute and chronic human health effects. Boulton can be reached at (734) 764-6478 or

Mark Wilson is professor of epidemiology in theSchool of Public Health and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. Wilson is an ecologist and epidemiologist with broad research interests in infectious diseases, including analyzing transmission of disease agents and the determinants of human risk. He can discuss infectious disease risks associated with the disaster. Wilson can be reached at (734) 936-0152 or