Research in the time of COVID-19: Q&A with Dr. Stephanie Sellers
Submitted by Providence Health Care Research Institute
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how we all live and work. It’s also changed how we do science. At Providence Health Care, our research community has been faced with shuttered labs and offices, financial uncertainty, and a rapid shift to virtual research environments.
In this Q&A series, we’re asking PHC researchers and research staff to reflect on their experience over the past few months and share how they’re adapting to the new world we live in.
Who are you?
Stephanie Sellers, Post-doctoral fellow, UBC Department of Radiology and Centre for Heart Lung Innovation at UBC & St. Paul’s Hospital
How has COVID-19 impacted your professional life?
COVID-19 has had a large impact; the COVID-19 related shutdown meant leaving the research labs and halting many aspects of our projects and unfortunately meant we had to say "until next time" to a number of our students who returned to their home countries. However, this gave us the opportunity to innovate and find ways to move forward with projects remotely as well as explore ways our research group could apply our skills and knowledge to the COVID-19 effort.
How has COVID-19 impacted your personal life?
Like most people, COVID-19 has curtailed my travel and resulted in the inevitable of spending a lot more time at home. This meant there was more time I could spend on hobbies I haven’t been doing enough of lately as well as more time outdoors hiking and biking and in the kitchen trying out new recipes.
As B.C. reopens, and as research activity gradually resumes, what does the “new normal” look like for you?
The gradual return to research in the "new normal" has required us to adapt and work as a team – such as working with other research groups we share lab space and equipment with to coordinate use to allow social distancing and thinking of ways to economize on PPE that we previously needed for our research work but now also require more of due to COVID-19 precautions. Aspects of research outside the lab, such as teaching, meeting with collaborators, and attending conferences virtually are continuing to be an on-going learning process.
Has the pandemic resulted in any unexpected benefits for you?
Perhaps the most unexpected thing was some of the communities and sense of support we’ve been able to build or maintain virtually through weekly collaborative meetings to work on projects together and share ideas, online journal clubs to discuss recent scientific articles, seminars from leaders in our field of study, and virtual happy hours and celebrations.