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Tip Sheet

Not for publication

Updated Jan. 5, 2005 -- No. 606

UNC faculty experts can help reporters with tsunami-related issues

The following researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are available to discuss various aspects of the devastating tsunamis that occurred Dec. 26, 2004, in Asia. This information is being updated periodically:

Dr. David Weber, professor of epidemiology in UNCís School of Public Health and of medicine and pediatrics in UNCís School of Medicine, can share expertise on infection control and mobilization of health-care workers in the wake of a natural disaster. A clinician, Weber was instrumental in UNC Hospitalsí emergency preparedness mobilizations post-9/11 and with SARS in spring 2003. He may be reached at (919) 347-0639 (pager) or

Dr. Aravinda de Silva, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology in UNCís School of Medicine, can talk about living conditions in Sri Lanka. De Silva, from Sri Lanka, is a microbiologist who does research on the island and also can also talk about diseases, including dengue and malaria, associated with the aftermath of tsunamis. De Silva was the senior author of a 2003 study describing the emergence and spread of a virulent form of dengue virus from the Indian subcontinent to Latin America. More information on the study is at De Silva may be reached at or (919) 843-9964.

Dr. Margaret "Peggy" Bentley, professor of nutrition in UNCís schools of public health and medicine and associate dean of global health in the School of Public Health, can discuss the risk of infectious diseases, especially diarrheal diseases and typhoid. Bentley is a specialist in diarrheal diseases, as well as international nutrition, and her training is in medical anthropology. Bentley may be reached at  or (919) 966-9575.

Lalith Perera, computing consultant with UNCís Information Technology Services, can talk of a fund-raising effort he is leading locally (in collaboration with embassy officials in Washington, D.C.) to assist victims of the disaster. Perera, who is from Sri Lanka, may be reached at (919) 843-7195 or (919) 967-8387.

Dr. Heidi Swygard, assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicineís Division of Infectious Diseases, can speak to the infectious disease and other public health aspects of the tsunamisí aftermath. She may be reached at (919) 966-2536 or

Dr. Jonathan Lees, professor of geological sciences in UNCís College of Arts and Sciences, has researched crustal seismology, tomography and seismic imaging and geothermal dynamics, as well as other areas within geophysics. For more information on his research, visit He may be reached at (919) 962-0695 or

Dr. Jose Rial, professor of geological sciences in UNCís College of Arts and Sciences, researches seismic wave propagation and has also performed research within computer modeling of the devastating effects of earthquakes. For more information on his research, visit He may be reached at (919) 966-4553 or

Dr. Seth Reice, associate professor of biology in UNCís College of Arts and Sciences, has researched the effect of natural disturbances on environments viewed as stable, as well as the subject of streams. For more information on his research, visit He may be reached at (919) 962-1375 or

Dr. Margaret Miles, professor in UNCís School of Nursing, has had experience in dealing with survivors of two disasters: the Hyatt hotel walkway collapse in Kansas City in 1981 and Hurricane Floyd in North Carolina in 1999. She can speak about grief, the phases in response to disaster Ė pre-impact, impact and post-impact Ė and how to help survivors cope with their resulting psychological reaction, including euphoria in having survived, disillusionment in having lost a sense of innocence and an old way of life and reconstruction in going forward with life. She may be reached at (919) 966-3620 or

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Contact: News Services staff, (919) 962-2091