The coronavirus pandemic has led to travel restrictions, conference cancellations and university closures. How do labs function in various states of lockdown? What happens to model organisms and long running experiments? On the personal side, how can we counter the loss of lab camaraderie? And education – how can you run a course from home?
Here, we’ve collated a bunch of Twitter threads that deal with some of these issues, which hopefully will be relevant to many of you. If you have any questions for the community, or plans you would like to share, we’d love to hear from you – just comment below the post, or register here to write your own post.
This thread from Alex Shier’s lab on March 8 described how the lab would be working from now on.
Can we run labs on one person shifts?
We're fortunate that we're in a computational/writing phase. If we were doing a lot of lab work, it would be different.
— J.J. Emerson (@JJ_Emerson) March 11, 2020
The Soragni lab is moving remotely as much as possible
Now this is not an easy decision, we are a wet lab almost exclusively, and a new one at that as we only opened the doors 3 years ago.
This break will come at a price. But societal risks are much more important than any single experiment and delay. So onwards and upwards we go.
— Soragni:Lab (@soragnilab) March 12, 2020
How Stephen Floor’s lab are approaching working from home
Maren Friesen shared her coronovirus lab plans:
Suspending lab access in Harvard:
So @Harvard science division is essentially shutting down research labs starting next week. At most 2-3 individuals per lab for maintaining cell/mouse lines. Expects suspended lab access to last *at least* 6-8 weeks pic.twitter.com/EyEWgXWrvY
— Tanush Jagdish (@TanushJagdish) March 12, 2020
Giulia Biffi, a PI in Cambridge:
Today I told my people to stop doing experiments and stay home. As a trainee, I know I would have been upset about this. As a PI, I cannot think about a good reason not to do it. I will carry on with their work (unless the institute shuts down). Stay well everyone.
— Giulia Biffi (@BiffiGiulia) March 12, 2020
A plea to funding bodies to consider mitigating actions
#Covid_19 must be affecting many labs. We have two major tumour studies now on hold indefinitely. This will impact timely publication and post-doc career progression. I hope @AMRC, @wellcometrust, #UKRI etc are considering mitigating actions.
— MossLabUCL #FBPE 🇪🇺 (@stephenemoss) March 13, 2020
Lots of ideas in this tweet and replies.
We’ve been advised to prep our labs for potential #COVID19 shutdown. We've discussed:
1. Flexibility to work from home
2. Avoid starting long-term studies
3. Freeze down cells
4. Reduce mouse cage numbers
5. Be prepared to separate breeding pairs
Other ideas? #InThisTogether
— Joy Wu (@JoyYWu) March 9, 2020
We are also discussing what we need to do….Stock up on cell media, make sure liquid nitrogen topped up, trying to coordinate cell culture access to maintain some of our oldest iPSC-neurons (~1y) via minimal access, freeze down iPSC that need daily feeding…. https://t.co/dYNYqm8tIl
— Selina Wray 🍊 (@SelinaWray) March 11, 2020
The Yaniv lab is Staying positive
Here’s the @yaniv_lab keeping up the good spirit! With one student (corona positive 😱😱) interviewed by the Israeli news, and myself on quarantine (😔😔😔) after returning from @GordonConf lymphatics, we try our best to stay healthy and happy! pic.twitter.com/f96weOshCt
— Karina Yaniv (@KarinaYaniv) March 12, 2020
The Gallego lab is using the lockdown as a chance to become better, computationally speaking
We changed pipettes by computers! We didn't plan working from home… but this is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen our computational power. We'll be back in a few weeks, and we'll be better in
#bioinformatics #Imageanalysis #modeling #Python pic.twitter.com/VA4V2Y8Rv8
— Gallego Lab (@GallegoLab) March 12, 2020
48 hours to shut down the Bardelli lab in Italy
9pm Italy, we were given 48hrs to shut down the @BardelliLab, I wanted to be last to leave, and now is time to go. I said goodbye to my post docs, PhDs, techs, we are all part of a worldwide family. I will miss my team and look fwd to continue the fight against #cancer from home! pic.twitter.com/y4MeZ3Ztsc
— Alberto Bardelli (@Albert0Bardelli) March 11, 2020
And, please don’t do this, PIs!
Already hearing stories of postdocs being explicitly instructed by faculty that they are NOT to work from home, but must be in lab as usual. If you are a PI, PLEASE don't do this. If you hear of others doing it please exercise what powers of peer pressure you have.
— Dr Sam Dundon 🔬 (@serdundon) March 11, 2020
A thread on zebrafish emergency preparedness
Seems like C. elegans researchers are a little less worried!
Never been more thankful for C. elegans dauers than in this era of campus shutdowns. #ILoveWorms
— Piali Sengupta (@SenguptaLab) March 11, 2020
To fight social isolation, why not set up a virutal coffee break?
and engage with one another, with no agenda other than to connect and hopefully avoid some of feelings of isolation that can occur when working alone. I have instituted the same thing with my lab now, and hopefully it will help us all get through these unprecedented times /fin
— Gavin Sherlock (@gsherloc) March 12, 2020
Or a virtual happy hour?
Lab happy hour was held by Zoom today (actually worked pretty well!) pic.twitter.com/Jf6r5vcWHd
— Jay Shendure (@JShendure) March 11, 2020
Keep educating: a thread on how to use Zoom to lecture from home
A perspective on online learning from the Open University
Online courses could help fill your days
Since I won't be leaving the house much in the coming weeks, I am particularly looking forward to participating in this free online course "Teaching Biology: Inspiring Students with Plant Science" Who wants to join me? Starts Monday.https://t.co/u17eX0J5ge
— mary williams (@PlantTeaching) March 12, 2020
Cancelled conferences? Why not share your talk and poster online:
Dear early career researchers,
If you conference was cancelled, share your poster or talk online & use the conference hashtag.
There is a good chance that you’ll have dozens—if not hundreds—of people who will check it out.
This is far more efficient way to share your work. https://t.co/gSn7mfUrXU
— Jay Van Bavel (@jayvanbavel) March 10, 2020
Indeed we are planning to help with this for the BSDB Spring meeting, which would have started on Sunday. More info here:
Virtual seminar series – more ideas in the replies
If things really shut down. Who wants to start a virtual seminar series with me. Or something.
— Tom Kash (@superkash) March 12, 2020
Help for conference organisers from OSF
Conference organizers, if you would like to promote sharing of conference presentations and posters amid COVID-19 cancellations, the free OSF Meetings service is available for authors to easily submit and share their work. Sign-up here: https://t.co/p2zXo1sy3k. https://t.co/rieeguq7tX
— Brian Nosek (@BrianNosek) March 10, 2020
Please let us know if you find any other useful links.