Hurdles of the pandemic

2020-09-09T08:45:11+00:00September 9th 2020|

Vera Labitzky, UKE, Hamburg

The second year of my first PostDoc position has just started, the practical experiments in various projects are in full swing, the project student registered her master thesis four weeks ago.

Lockdown is ordered because of the increasing COVID numbers and the lab experiments are stopped. For home office, I first have to set up a suitable workstation. I am happy about the undisturbed time I can use for compiling the data collected so far and for literature research. None of the colleagues knocks on the door to discuss ideas for projects, no short communication during lunch. I miss the direct exchange with the colleagues. Virtual meetings are held.

Many of the colleague’s complete projects and publish their data. Afterwards, I am urged to continue my experiments, after all, as a PostDoc, it is my goal to habilitate and for this I need publications. The management of the institute decides to resume laboratory work partly under the necessary protective measures. That sounds very good to me. The master students are also given the opportunity to work on their projects again. A new technician was hired to support the group, the contracts were signed even before the lockdown. I juggle between supervising the master student, training the technician in my experiments and office work (at home).

Almost the normal laboratory routine, with difficult time coordination of the about 20 employees at the institute, finally we want to follow to the safety rules for distance. Most of the experiments are running again, also the recording of the animal experiments has been done again. As the number of infections decreases and the situation remains stable, my colleagues and I are hopeful that the Institute will be able to relax further.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. During the summer vacations, the infection numbers are rising again and the capacities of the laboratory work are not increased any further.  In order to ensure the supervision of the animal experiments I move back to the complete home office. My master student decides to enroll for the next semester. At least in the meantime more data could be collected so I can start with a publication in this project. However, will this restriction in research work have disadvantages for the continued employment after the expiry of my temporary position or for my CV?

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