WELL- as of last Friday, my lab has effectively been shut down! We have one individual who’s been granted special permission to continue with their experiments (and provide some bare minimum assistance to maintain some other peoples’ essential experiments), but that’s it! All other lab members are working from home, predominantly on writing tasks.
I was quite fortunate to have finished all the required experiments for my second manuscript earlier this month. I can’t imagine how I would have been had this been, say, a month ago. The idea of having to cease experiments when I was only a week or two away from finishing for good… Yup, very lucky indeed.
But yes, it’s been fine for me, because I’m done, but for other members of the lab it’s been quite the shock. There’s a lot of uncertainty from fellow students about how this shutdown affects one’s course/degree and their scholarship/stipend (which has a strict time frame), and on top of that, some of us have lost casual teaching jobs with the university. Some subjects just can’t be put online, especially those that are heavy on Practicals (i.e. students performing experiments in Prac rooms).
The uncertain financial situation puts a lot of strain on students, who are already living on a pay to pay basis (there’s not A LOT of room for savings with a Ph. D stipend), so it feels very gloomy right now.
So, to combat the gloom, our lab’s jumped on the Zoom video conferencing bandwagon, because the University already grants its members free access. Of late, we’ve been holding weekly morning teas on Zoom (obviously beverages and snacks are BYO), and if people are experiencing cabin fever at home, we’ll hold Friday drinks (also BYO drinks).
It sounds silly, but when you go from seeing certain people every day to nothing so suddenly, even though (at least for our lab) we knew this was happening very soon, it still feels weird. At least we can still get together and talk shit for an hour (or more) if we want to.
Hope everyone is staying safe out there.
A former wet-lab based Bacteriology Ph. D student residing in Australia. Now working part time at a secret location as a Communications and Data Officer. 👀 🦠 🧫 🧬