Research work is something that can seem solitary from outside the lab, but at its heart, it is highly collaborative and requires a lot of team work. Under quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be easy to feel isolated or to lose touch with the lab. However, the swift action of the lab allowed for planning of schedules that allow for shifts and planning of experimental hours. Lab meetings can continue over Zoom, and life can go on.
The atmosphere in the lab didn’t change much. Everyone had their masks on, so their faces were obscured, but the communication and teamwork never faltered. Additionally, while everything else is closed down, the lab is not only a place of safety and reliable co-workers, but it is also a great place to have social interaction. Most interactions with others come through family, grocery store outings, and virtual calls. Now, the lab can be a place of work, research, and also provide a break from isolation.
Aside from figuring out how to wear lab glasses without having them fog up, the pandemic presented a few challenges to the research process. It allowed more time in the lab, as nothing else was on the schedule. Additionally, seeing the world in turmoil with research as its hope really excited me personally. Not only did this event allow me to have a greater appreciation for the lab community, but it also affirmed my excitement for discovery, research, and ability to make real contributions to our world. Not quite as expected, the pandemic may have made many things more difficult, but the experience in the lab has been subtly enhanced in a few key ways.