It has been several months since the news of Amy Bishop’s attack on her colleagues at the University of Alabama, Huntsville made national news. Although Bishop’s New England roots have kept the story in the Boston press, it wasn’t until I read an article in a recent issue of Nature that I learned how her department is coping with the loss of key faculty.
When you see the portraits of her murdered colleagues, it becomes clear that the UAH biology faculty included several minority scientists. In turn, they mentored many minority graduate students, who were left without advisers. Retired faculty and area industry leaders have stepped in to help shepherd the doctoral students, but the loss reveals how much effort a mentor must expend to develop a cadre of future faculty.
The second insight from the Nature report is what happened to the deceased PI’s grants. Government funding goes to the institution, not the faculty member, so the department was able to have surviving members take over existing grants. The NSF and NIH also gave extensions on all the grants except for Bishop’s own.