There have been significant changes for scientific research in Missouri in the last few weeks. The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way everyone works. For many scientists, their co-workers and collaborators now have a thick coat of soft fur. It’s difficult for these newly minted research assistants to handle reagents and test-tubes because of their claws… not to mention their lack of thumbs.
Pets don’t make the best helpers, and kitchens hardly function as science labs. So, the vital work of contributing to our shared scientific knowledge is on hold. Kelly Dickerson got a double surprise when social distancing started. Kelly is the Research Education and Communications Manager at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. She’s also a Ph.D. candidate in Nursing at the University of Missouri Kansas City.
“Job wise, my biggest challenge has been converting our research education activities to a virtual format after having worked overtime to make them interactive and hands-on,” Kelly said. “I’ve learned my job can be done 100% from home.”
While Kelly has adjusted to the “work-from-home life,” her Ph.D. research is taking a step back. “It’s pretty much on hold right now. I can’t exactly recruit patients to get blood or work in a lab.”
At Washington University in St. Louis, research life is taking advantage of the opportunity to study COVID-19. Julia Liu is a research assistant for the ALLIANCE Project. She’s also heavily involved in research leading to a Master’s in Public Health.
“The things that have changed with my work is that we are including a separate project within the project that is directly tied with COVID-19. We’re also now seeing if internet access is a barrier people experience, primarily because of Telehealth. A lot of people, in general, have talked about how COVID-19 has exacerbated health disparities…” Said Julia. “In terms of my studies, (…) my professors have done an amazing job and are always supportive.”