Geologist's Photo Exhibit of Tsunami and Katrina Aftermath Will Benefit the United Nations, Thursday, January 26 through Tuesday, February 28, 2006

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — In January 2005, Vassar College professor Brian McAdoo was among the first geologists on-site to survey the aftermath of the Southeast Asian tsunami. Soon after Hurricane Katrina struck, McAdoo brought this unique perspective to the U.S. Gulf Coast, where he and colleagues assessed the storm's geological toll. On both occasions McAdoo had his camera along, and for the upcoming photo exhibit "Waves of Devastation, Waves of Hope," he has selected from his own shots, and from those of his peers, to illustrate how the local environments fared through these natural disasters. The exhibit will also feature photos and oral accounts of New Orleans residents, taken after Hurricane Katrina by Vassar anthropology student Alexandra Marvar.

"Waves of Devastation, Waves of Hope" will be exhibited from Thursday, January 26 through Tuesday, February 28, in the Aula Room at Vassar College. An opening reception from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on January 26 will benefit the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which has supported McAdoo's research.

McAdoo, who researches undersea geology, explained that the photo exhibition is meant to raise awareness about land use and shoreline conservation. "The more than one hundred thousand people killed by the tsunami and Katrina, and the billions of dollars in damage they caused, could have been dramatically reduced with the preservation of natural coastal environments, " said McAdoo, an assistant professor of geology and geography. "We have to do a better job of educating communities about this."

According to McAdoo, the photographs in "Waves of Devastation, Waves of Hope" include images of the devastation, and also illustrate the ways in which local environments have evolved to buffer the effects of major natural events. He says that the survivors' stories gathered in New Orleans by Vassar student Alexandra Marvar, "Demonstrate the strength, hope, and even humor that enables people to rebuild their lives."

McAdoo was on a research sabbatical in Switzerland when the tsunami struck southeast Asia in late 2004. He quickly joined the International Tsunami Survey Team organized by UNESCO, with the aid of the Paris-based International Oceans Commission. He recounted that, "Our first team entered Sri Lanka on January 7, and other teams were deployed in Thailand and India at about the same time. About 10 days later, I was in the Maldives, as part of two teams including Vassar, Georgia Tech, and USC professors. I returned to Zurich to find that we had gained permission from the Indonesian government to enter Aceh Province, one of the area's hardest hit by the tsunami, and I was on a plane to Indonesia 30 hours later."

For more information about "Waves of Devastation, Waves of Hope," contact Brian McAdoo, assistant professor of geology and geography at (845) 437-7703, and To view the exhibit or to arrange accommodations for individuals with disabilities, call the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Friday, January 13, 2006