Honoring our Past, Celebrating our Present, Creating our Future

Valentines 2008

John Sorenson and Barbara Sorenson Vogt

John and Barbara met in 1970 when he was an assistant professor of Geography and she was a graduate student in Sociology. With similar interests in response to natural disasters, they both spent time at the University's Environmental Center. Today, they are leaders in emergency preparedness research and were the first American researches to tout duct tape as a survival tool against terrorism. In their August 2001 research paper, "Will Duct Tape and Plastic Really Work?" the they, as members of the Oak Ridge national Laboratory) evaluated safe-room techniques the Israelis developed for short-term protection against chemical warfare. The ORNL paper did not receive much attention until after 9/11 when Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge pitched the idea during an appearance on the "Today" show in February 2003. The Sorensen's report was downloaded more than 70,000 times in a week; ABC's "Good Morning America" called, David Letterman lampooned the idea on his late-night TV show, and duct tape became a joke in circles across the country. But the notoriety of the duct tape report brought more work to the Sorensen's who took the whole incident in stride and with good humor.

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