New normal: Tips for researchers and graduate students during COVID-19 pandemic
Researchers and research-intensive graduate students at Memorial are learning to adapt their activities and use remote technologies to continue their work, projects and studies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research) says it is “inspiring” to see Memorial’s researchers and graduate students embrace new ways to remain connected despite enduring many hardships at this time. He also says that many people are coping with exceptional circumstances – mentally and physically – and that others have had to adapt their research.
“Memorial is continuing to look for ways to support our researchers and graduate students, recognizing that individuals in our research community face unique professional and personal challenges given individual circumstances,” he said. “Please reach out to your supervisor, department or school heads, dean or my office if we can be of any support. We will get through this situation together.”
‘Every bit helps’
Dr. Aimée Surprenant, associate vice-president (academic) and dean of graduate studies, says that many graduate students are struggling with challenging situations ranging from hardware and software difficulties to meeting family and other obligations.
She says labs have been closed, many research projects put in jeopardy and people are trying to figure out how to keep their lives on track.
“Added on top of that is uncertainty as we cannot predict how this situation will unfold,” she said. “Even so, many have asked how they can contribute to help students who are in urgent need. For those who are able, we have set up an emergency fund that can be accessed online. My deepest thanks for any support that can be given, no matter how small – every bit helps.”
The Gazette offers these tips for researchers and graduate students as they navigate through a new normal.
Health and wellness
- Remember to stay home and avoid non-essential gatherings.
- If you do have to leave your home for essentials or medical supplies, follow the Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines and keep a distance of at least two arms’ length from other people. You can also order food online for delivery or curbside pickup.
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently for 20 seconds minimum.
- Contact the 811 HealthLine if you develop a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing and wait for direction from the HealthLine staff.
- The Student Wellness and Counselling Centre is open and staff are providing services to students via telephone and virtual sessions, with the exception of some physician and nurse appointments.
- Stay connected with family, friends and research colleagues using online technology such as FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, etc.
- Take breaks for self-care and wellness. The Gardiner Centre is offering free 15-minute guided mindfulness sessions each Wednesday for several weeks, led by instructor and coach Jennifer Kelly.
- Refer to online resources such as the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Mental Health First Aid COVID-19 Self-Care and Resilience Guide.
Remote research, teaching and learning
- Create a dedicated work space at home. Check out the Department of Human Resources’ ergonomic tips for working from home.
- Use online resources. The Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) has a number of useful technical resources and learning strategies available, as well as resources and support for remote instruction. The Writing Centre has online resources and Memorial librarians are monitoring its online chat service.
- Create a routine, including daily schedules and checklists.
- Schedule virtual meetings with your research team and periodically check in with your team members. The Office of the Chief Information Officer has tips online for working remotely and virtual meetings.
- Set goals and objectives, and devise a progress plan.
- Take advantage of online professional development opportunities or webinars offered by groups such as the Enhanced Development of the Graduate Experience or the Entrepreneurship Training Program.
- Learn more about Invention Disclosures, working with industry and other topics by viewing a series of resource videos on the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office website.
- Apply for the new Lab2Market program, which focuses on training PhD students and post-doctoral scholars to become the next corporate innovators. At Memorial, the program will focus on ocean technology-related research. The deadline is May 31.
- Ask for help. The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) is here for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact Andrew Kim (for academic matters) or Carol Sullivan (for financial matters). Alternatively, you can also email SGS at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact email addresses for a variety of research support units are also available.
- If you can, write, write and write! Now is the time to prepare manuscripts for consideration or submission for publications; finalize your thesis; draft a research report; or finalize an artistic creation.
- Check out Memorial’s Research Funding Opportunities Database for upcoming deadlines and eligible opportunities.
- Learn more about tri-council scholarships.
- Nominate a research colleague for an award or honour such as the John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professorship (due May 1) or submit an application for the Terra Nova Young Innovator Award (due May 15).
- Read or write a review of a new book or journal article by a research colleague.
- Learn more about graduate studies at Memorial during one of the online sessions hosted by the School of Graduate Studies.
- Check out a variety of virtual career workshops taking place over the next couple of months, hosted by Memorial focusing on topics such as creating a LinkedIn profile and tips for remote working.
- Update your CV.
Please visit Memorial’s COVID-19 resource site for a series of frequently asked questions covering issues such as health, research and academics.
Jeff Green is a senior communications advisor with the Office of the Vice-President (Research). He can be reached at email@example.com.