Student calls for oil spill aid; gains media attention

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: This article incorrectly stated that President Susan J. Hockfield declined to comment on the situation. Rather, she did not return The Tech's request for comment. There has still not been any MIT response to the spill.

On June 10, Nora O. Hickey ’12 sent an email to President Susan J. Hockfield and copied all the dormitory lists, urging MIT to take a more active role in the recent BP oil spill.

“We have some of the best engineers and scientists in the world, and in the face of a disaster caused by what appears to be poor engineering practices, our institution could do a lot to contribute to resolving this world crisis,” Hickey wrote.

Hickey worked as an intern at the New England Aquarium in Boston last spring while studying at MIT. She pointed out in her email that the aquarium is using its own resources to help aid inquired animals, such as sea turtles.

She wrote, “while the aquarium has the resources to treat the results of the spill, MIT has the resources to develop solutions to stop the spill. The oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is an opportunity for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to make real changes in the world.”

The email — entitled “MIT’s involvement in fixing the oil leak” — gained the attention of several local media sources, such as the Boston Business Journal and The Journal of New England Technology, which published stories speaking of Hickey’s email to the president.

“There was no official response [to my email],” Hickey told The Tech. “I wish that people would bring it more to the forefront and try to recognize [the situation] more,” she said. “I thought it was just a bummer that they didn’t even bother acknowledging the email.”

On May 14, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu appointed Alexander H. Slocum ’82, MIT professor of mechanical engineering, to specially-picked group of five scientists to help propose alternative strategies to slow the BP oil leak. Slocum was among the MIT professors who met with President Barack Obama last fall during the laboratory tours, and is one of several MIT faculty members currently lending their technological expertise to help manage the BP oil spill.

The Tech sent emails both to Slocum and Hockfield, however, they declined to comment on Hickey’s email and the current oil spill situation.