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A headset and ample amounts of coffee: working from home in times of Corona

Now that university buildings have closed, most staff members have started working from home. How are Faculty of Science colleagues faring in their new offices?

Pedro Russo

Pedro Russo

Assistant professor of Astronomy & Society at Leiden Observatory and Department of Science Communication & Society.

‘I have been using the mezzanine of my 17th-century apartment in Leiden as desk space. It is cosy and I’m enjoying working from here. My priority has been the MSc internships and the classes for our BSc Astronomy programme. I’ve been working with the assistant lecturers and TAs on how to develop an interesting online course.

‘Most of our research projects engage with students, teachers and families in schools or museums. With the museums and schools closed, we will have considerable difficulties to collect the data that we need to complete the research.  At the moment, we are discussing how to find some digital solutions to work around that.

‘In both my groups we have been, for a long time, using digital infrastructure like Slack and SurfDrive to work remotely. At the moment we are running group get-together sessions every two days via Zoom. But the most important is to keep everyone involved in the group activities. And that’s is the biggest challenge.’

Ariane Briegel

Ariane Briegel

Professor of Ultrastructural Biology, IBL

‘All our lab-related work has come to a standstill. Fortunately, my lab members and I all have something to work from home at the moment. Our safety and wellbeing is the number one priority. We will pick up where we left off when the crisis is over.

‘Since the announcement that we have to work from home, I have been busy setting up my workspace. I did not have a desk at home, so I commandeered an old desk from my son we had stored away in the attic. We ordered a room divider, desk lamp and a monitor and now I’m all set to work from home.

‘Using clear deadlines works best for me when working at home. Additionally, I have a calendar for regular Skype meetings with all my lab members to keep up to date with everyone. Right now, I’m working on transferring my upcoming lecture into an online format, adjusting the internship projects of my students and talking to my lab members to see how I can help them.’

Coen van Hasselt's home office

Coen van Hasselt

Assistant professor, LACDR

‘I’m working from my attic to create an online version of the MSc course in biopharmaceutical sciences I’m teaching. Besides that I’m working with my colleagues to build a fully digital research project that BSc students can use to finish their final assignments.’

‘The experimental side of our research group has completely halted. It’s a hassle as we were in the middle of experiments for a grant application and finishing up research projects. Instead of doing that,  we’re now working on a few papers and doing some long delayed lab administration. Luckily some of our research is purely computational. We can do that from home.’

‘Our weekly group meetings are continuing as usual, but online. We’ll be discussing an interesting paper on dosage of COVID-19 medication tomorrow. A headset, a comfortable desk chair and ample amounts of coffee make working from home a lot easier.’

Liselotte Rambonnet

Liselotte Rambonnet

PhD candidate, Science Communication & Society

‘As a biologist, I couldn’t wish for a better workspace. From here I have a direct view of the peregrine falcon nest in the Leiden energy plant. They’ve just laid eggs so I’m keeping a close eye on them from my desk, but also through a livestream. I’ve made my desk as cosy as possible. I make sure there’s enough light and fresh air, and have placed some green plants to brighten things up.

I started my PhD research at the Science Communication & Society department in March and I’m now writing my research proposal. That involves a lot of reading and keeping in contact with people through e-mail and phone. That’s easy enough to do from home. I’m also working on the Plastic Spotter citizen science project, monitoring plastic in Leiden’s canals.

We expect there’s going to be significantly less plastic because everyone is staying indoors. Every now and then me and a few colleagues and volunteers clean up the canals in a canoe and catalogue what we find. We noticed that what we find is a real reflection of what is going on in society, over the last weeks we’ve found a lot of shopping bags and face masks!’

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