A UC Davis graduate student and her infant daughter are believed to be missing in Haiti after a powerful earthquake hit Tuesday.
UC Davis officials said Starry Dawn Sprenkle, an ecology graduate student, was in Haiti with her 20-month-old daughter, Jasmine, working on a research project.
Sprenkle’s father, Stephen, told the university that he last heard from her via text message at 1:53 p.m. on Tuesday. Starry said she was on her way to Port-au-Prince to find her husband, whose mother had just died of natural causes in a hospital there.
Sprenkle’s father received the text message around the same time the earthquake hit. The first quake registered a magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter scale, and two subsequent aftershocks measured 5.9 and 5.8. No one in Sprenkle’s family or at UC Davis has heard from her since.
One of her advisers, Plant Sciences Professor Kevin Rice, said at a press conference yesterday that he was confident she would be okay.
“She’s an experienced researcher and she knows the country very well,” Rice said.
UC Davis spokesperson Sylvia Wright said Sprenkle is the only member of the UC Davis community in Haiti. However, a UC Berkeley student is also among those missing, and the UC Office of the President is working to establish contact with both Sprenkle and the Berkeley student, Wright said.
Alumnus John Gunel is organizing a fundraiser to support rescue and relief efforts in Haiti. Gunel said people interested in volunteering should meet at the Silo at noon today.
– JEREMY OGUL