The coronavirus pandemic is having far-reaching consequences on employment, the economy, education and mental health. Our scientists are not immune. Melbourne’s first and second wave of infections and subsequent lockdowns affected laboratory work, funding and the ability to juggle childcare and homeschooling with work and career. Many mourned the loss of work and home life balance. We asked four of our scientists how COVID-19 affected them.
Dr Jaclyn Pearson, Research Group Head, Host-Pathogen Interactions
WORK-LIFE | As a lab we are operating at about 40 per cent capacity. Personally, I can only manage shorter experiments which heavily restricts what I can achieve. On the plus side, I get more time to think and write when working from home.
This pandemic has literally stopped many scientists in their research tracks and generated an immense amount of uncertainly about their future. For some though, I can see it has generated a once in a lifetime opportunity to contribute to one of the biggest public health crises the world has ever seen.
HOME-LIFE | It has been quite an intensive time for us as a family, as my wife is the Director of Microbiology at Royal Melbourne Hospital—one of the first labs to develop a testing platform for SARS-CoV2. She was also seconded to the Victorian health department three days a week. As a family we have tried to rally behind her in her very long days, after hours work commitments and constant pressure to deal with a very real problem. We are all very proud, but at times we miss her very much.
For balance, we take time at weekends to walk, have nice dinners at home, laugh and spend time with our kids. ABC Kids has been a lifesaver! But also, it’s been about letting go of being precious about the house, letting the kids go outside, get messy, play in the sand, do some painting, spray the hose everywhere – that has been the key to us getting through.