Early career scientists on how COVID-19 is affecting them
As COVID-19 spreads across the world, members of the GSA community have had to face unprecedented challenges in their professional and personal lives. To stay connected during this socially distant time, GSA invites the scientists in our community to share how they are meeting these challenges, as well as their questions and worries.
If you would like to contribute to this series, please contact Communications Assistant Jacqueline Treboschi.
Early career members of the GSA community share how they are adjusting to the career uncertainty, lab shutdowns, and isolation caused by COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 shutdown has greatly slowed the progression of our work, which, unfortunately, is aging focused. Our institution has taken appropriate steps in closing down the university for all but non-essential work. Luckily, I am able to continue to feed colonies, however, the delay of experiments make me and others in my position worried about how this delay in progress will be viewed by hiring committees.”
—Balint Kacsoh, Postdoc at University of Pennsylvania
“One of my favorite things about my lab is our camaraderie, and its absence has made it particularly hard to adjust to working remotely. After just five days of social distancing, I found myself unable to focus meaningfully on any work-related task, and my daily schedule slowly devolved into an amorphous mess. To counteract loneliness and keep up motivation, my lab and I established Write Club. We meet in our virtual Zoom cafe, where we spend 15-30 minutes chatting, 90 minutes writing, and a final 15 minutes sharing our progress (or even the lack thereof). We initially agreed to meet for Write Club on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but it’s been so effective that you’ll find us there most days of the work week. Having a daily bit of interaction with my labmates has helped enormously – we all help keep each other accountable for making progress on our projects. But more importantly, we can re-capture a little of our lab’s magic by catching up, commiserating, and lending emotional support when we most need it.”
—Teresa Lee, Postdoc at Emory University
“I am struggling with productivity during this time. With not being able to go to lab anymore, many things I felt were almost finished now feel much further off. I am doing my best to remember that we are all going through this and to break up my goals into smaller pieces.”
—Gavin Rice, Postdoc at University of Pittsburgh
“Being a non-citizen during quarantine has a negative impact on mental health because you feel constantly anxious about family and friends living in another country; whether you’ll keep getting paid while you’re working from home; visa renewals; and job continuation.”
—Seyma Katrinli, Postdoc at Emory University
“Most of our laboratory’s work has shifted to working from home. Online meetings are working well so far. Students have been asked to move out of the university’s residences in several cities. While some universities are making it mandatory, others are allowing some of the residents to stay if they do not have anywhere else to go. In my case, I am going to move out because I had started planning to do so before the pandemic started, but this is likely not the case for everybody. Some friends have defended their theses in online meetings; at least one of them faced technical difficulties.”
—Angel Fernando Cisneros Caballero, Graduate Student at Université Laval