In early March, SARS-CoV-2 was slowly spreading in the UK and my anxiety levels were rising with every ‘breaking news’ alert I received on my phone. Coronavirus had already become the main topic of our conversations between experiments. We had a discussion on whether the UK would ever have to follow the footsteps of Hubei and Northern Italy and undergo a strict lockdown. But at that time, even the closure of our institute seemed a distant possibility, never mind the whole country.
It all happened very quickly. Only a few weeks later, we found ourselves stopping long-running experiments, freezing down cells and samples, making sure instruments were switched off, and the fridges and freezers were functioning properly. From that point all we could do was to follow the quickly evolving guidelines and more importantly, stay at home.
As a wet lab scientist, staying at home had its own challenges, but I knew I had to take advantage of the lockdown period. Luckily, I had data to analyse, and literature to catch up with. Also, to make sure the scientific communication was ongoing, I prepared and gave an online literature review presentation to the team. For my own training, I started to learn a programming language, and for other early career researchers I organised online events on business and consultancy.
It has now been more than a month since I restarted working in the laboratory, focusing on priority experiments. There are restrictions in place for everybody’s safety, and as only a limited number of scientists can be present at the site at a given time, we have adopted shift work. This has its own challenges, but it is also a good exercise for us to be better organised. Regardless, it is great to be back!
This story was originally published on the UKRI Infohub.