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139. Back to School During a Pandemic

In March 2020, the world shut down.

International borders were sealed. Businesses shuttered. Schools locked their doors and students were sent home to learn ‘remotely.’

At the same time, many universities and research labs also closed down for the summer of COVID-19. While a few labs remained open as essential research continued, many scientists froze down samples, trashed cell lines, and went home to spend some quality time with PubMed.

But now as summer wanes, the research labs are thawing out.

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134. Lessons from the Quarantine

COVID-19 is a wildfire burning its way around the planet.

Its impacts are devastating to nearly every aspect of our modern lives: loved ones lost, economies destroyed, and plans put on hold indefinitely.

But like a fire, it’s also shedding light, illuminating the hidden corners of our society and our routines that we may not have taken the time to examine before.

When this fire eventually burns itself out, should we go back to living in the dark, or are there lessons we should learn? Are there torches we can carry beyond this trial to more permanently transform our work, our values, and our lives?

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131. How to Host a Dissertation Defense On Zoom

It’s finally here! The day you’ve been preparing for for the last five years!

Your experiments are finished, papers published, and your dissertation has been typed, referenced, printed, and distributed. Now, it’s time to stand proudly before your committee and a room full of peers to defend your work and be dubbed a Doctor of Philosophy!

At least, that’s how things used to be done before COVID-19 and social-distancing.

Now, you have to do all the experiments, writing, and publishing, and then convince your audience to MUTE THEIR !@#%@% MICROPHONES so you can hear the committee’s questions on your Zoom defense!

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130. Coronavirus, and Life Outside the Lab

It has quickly become a new way of life – working from home, avoiding restaurants and gyms, and ‘social distancing’ from coworkers, friends, and even family.

The upending of normal routines happened so quickly, and the days have become so blurred together, that it’s hard to keep track of just how long we’ve been confined to our apartments and homes.

We know that scientists and doctors at the NIH, CDC, virology labs, and hospitals around the world continue their front-lines fight to understand and treat the pandemic, and we are deeply grateful.

But what about all the other scientists? The research faculty, postdocs, grad students, and technicians whose research doesn’t cover RNA viruses or epidemiology?

Even though they are not working directly on understanding COVID-19, they still have important experiments to do. They have cell cultures, fruit fly lines, and mouse colonies to maintain. The have classes to teach or take, dissertations to write, and theses to defend.

What happens to them when the University closes, and experiments are forbidden?

This week, we catch up with those scientists, to understand how they are adapting to life and science in a pandemic.