Briefly Noted

Issue Date: 
February 7, 2011

Developer of Drill Bit Used in Chilean Mine Rescue to Talk Feb. 10

Brandon Fisher, whose company was integral to the heroic rescue of 33 Chilean miners last fall, will be the featured speaker in the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for National Preparedness Seminar Series from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, in Room 532, Alumni Hall. The lecture, “RESCUE 33: Lessons Learned From the Mine Rescues in Chile” is free and open to the public.

Fisher is founder and president of Center Rock, Inc., of Berlin, Pa. The company’s Low Profile drill was used to bore through rock quickly to rescue the Chilean miners weeks before most experts thought possible. Fisher and his associates spent 37 grueling days and nights drilling the rescue shaft. His firm also led drilling operations for the Somerset, Pa., Quecreek mine rescue, which extracted nine miners from danger in July 2002.

Fisher will present a summary of the Chilean rescue operation and comment on lessons learned from his experience, including his thoughts on the role of the private sector in public-private collaborations relating to disaster preparedness and response.

The Center for National Preparedness is an interdisciplinary collaboration of experts and departments at Pitt. It provides research, education, and service aimed at advancing the science, policy, and implementation of effective federal, state, and local preparedness efforts across the public and private sectors. For more information, visit

—By John Fedele

REES to Hold Feb. 11 Symposium on African American Perspectives on Russian, Slavic Studies

The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Russian and East European Studies (REES) will hold a daylong symposium, “African American Perspectives on Russian and Slavic Studies,” 8:30 a.m.-5:10 p.m. Feb. 11 in 4130 Posvar Hall. The symposium will explore the experiences of African Americans who have studied, taught, and conducted research in Russia or who are focusing on Slavic languages, literatures, and cultures, an academic field in which African Americans are underrepresented.

The event will open with a morning panel discussion by African American scholars about their current research on Russian literature. The afternoon session will include a screening of the 2001 documentary film Black Russians, about the lives of contemporary Afro-Russians in the post-Soviet period. The film will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, Kara Lynch of Hampshire College. Additional participants will include two Russian-language teachers, along with current and former students, from public high schools with predominantly African American student populations, and African American faculty and alumni of U.S. universities who have worked in the former Soviet Union.

The symposium is free, but preregistration is required. It is sponsored by REES (with funding from the U.S. Department of Education), Pitt’s Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and African Studies Program, and several other organizations.

For more information, visit or contact REES assistant director Gina Peirce at