Biophysical Society Bulletin | October 2021

Career Development

How COVID-19 Has Impactedmy Personal Life It wasn’t that long ago that daily life looked very different. Early in the morning, my wife or I would drop our younger son at the daycare and the older one would go to elementary school. This was followed by both of us rushing to our workplaces. In the labo- ratory, we would work along with fel- low researchers and students, and also attend laboratory meetings. We would

all were online in different rooms to take classes or deliver seminars, and our two-year-old little boy had to entertain himself. I know the situation was similar in all young families. Although there were challenges, COVID-19 brought our family together. We developed an appreciation for each other as well as for friends and colleagues around us. We also learned to appreciate how hard school teachers were working to keep up with young kids. We constantly checked on our neighbors and drew chalk art on the sidewalk to encourage everyone. With my family, we completed 350 miles of bicycle rides and over 150 miles of running during close-downs. There were no laboratory lunches or dinners, but we had virtual happy hours. COVID-19 is not over yet, and cases of the Delta variant are still on the rise. As parents of young boys, we are still appre- hensive as vaccines are not yet recommended for children their age. We have learned how to emphasize positivity and happiness among our family and lab members. A positive and energized environment is a collective exercise because the behaviors and attitudes are reinforced when a group does it together. During COVID-19, we all developed new social and professional scripts in real-time to verbalize the significant impact on happiness and positivity. The opening comments in laboratories have changed from scientific questions like “What happened with your experiments yesterday?” to social well-being: “How are you and your family members?” As researchers, we need to change our approaches from “don’t worry, be happy” to working with our teams to create pat- terns to reinforce positivity. Often it is difficult to invent new ways to be positive, so it is vital to create regular patterns as a department or institute that can help sustain and spread positivity. COVID-19 will be over, hopefully soon, but the ex- perience has taught us that collective happiness and support- ing each other is important for workplace positivity. We have to be patient and compassionate. And I believe in the words of Sri Guru Granth Sahib: “Wind and water have patience and tolerance; the earth has compassion and forgiveness.” — Harpreet Singh , Ohio State University

meet our colleagues in person, go for lunch with other faculty members, and attend seminars in different departments. My laboratory had just moved from Philadelphia to Columbus, and we were focused on setting up our research program once again. It was an exciting time and every member had fresh energy. In the same spirit, our laboratory members attended the 64th Biophysical Society Annual Meeting in San Diego, where we presented our ongoing projects. Not long after that, everything changed. We began to receive messages from friends and colleagues showing symptoms of COVID-19. Within the next few weeks, our institute gave or- ders to shut down laboratories and cease normal operations. We had just re-established our transgenic colonies, which we had to reduce to a bare minimum to avoid losing the colony. All experiments were stopped as our laboratory operations were deemed not essential. During the early days, we focused on writing manuscripts, reviews, and grant applications. To keep the morale high for the laboratory we had meetings on Zoom and kept in touch over the phone. My wife, Shubha Gururaja Rao , was to begin her first tenure-track position, which was an exciting transition, but due to COVID-19, there were challenges for her as well. All our colleagues extended their help to make this transition as smooth as possible, but it created challenges on its own. Our routine changed from dropping kids to school or daycare to taking turns to stay with them at home. All classes and meetings changed to online platforms. The most challenging task was to facilitate online school for our eight-year-old boy. There were times when we

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October 2021



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