Director’s Channel – April 2020

Zoom screen shot of IONs Director Paul Katz

I am very proud of the way that UMass is working to keep people safe in this extraordinary time. For up-to-date information go to https://www.umass.edu/coronavirus. I am also thankful for the way that our neuroscience community is pulling together to maintain contact while remaining physical distant. Like everywhere else in the nation, classes, lab meetings, and seminars are being held by Zoom.  We have a Slack Workspace for people to contact each other (http://umassneuroscience.slack.com) including a channel to share COVID-19 information. NSB Students and postdocs have created structure in their lives by organizing accountability buddies (aka Accountabilibuddies) who check in on each other regularly.

It goes without saying that this pandemic is creating extraordinary suffering. It is likely to get worse before it gets better. Yes, it’s sad that research projects have been interrupted. Yes, it’s sad that conferences and seminars have been canceled, including our annual Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Conference. All of our Distinguished Neuroscience Lectures have been rescheduled for 2021. These cancellations and delays are essential measures to flatten the infection curve. Conferences will be rescheduled, life will pick up again on the other end of this calamity. As a privileged academic, I can safely stay at home and work on papers and grants. I have been encouraging my students to use this down time productively by reading the literature more deeply. It’s a chance to learn and think more thoroughly about their projects. I’m hoping that this enforced stop to lab work will result in better planned research going forward and more thorough understanding of the published literature.  Together, we will pull through as a community.

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