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Graduate students adapt to new lab protocols

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - 3:25pm
By:
Alan Flurry

With new protocols in place to safeguard against COVID-19, most University of Georgia graduate students have safely returned to their work in labs and field settings. Continuing their important research has been a positive development, but the changes have required adjustments. Those adaptations have varied immensely, depending on the students’ areas of study:

“We conduct lab meetings predominantly over Zoom,” she said. “We sign up to use specific equipment one person at a time, and we have reorganized the lab space to redistribute materials and avoid concentrating them in one area.”

Matt Seivert, a member of Tina Salguero’s lab in the chemistry department in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, also felt pandemic pangs as he returned to his research.

“The time I lost earlier this year was one of the biggest impacts,” said Seivert, a Ph.D. candidate in inorganic/materials chemistry who, like many others, was forced to suspend lab work in March when the campus reduced operations to essential research only. “When I resumed my research in June, I found myself having difficulty remembering simple tasks that I had once mastered.”

Although a new routine had its challenges, Seivert and his lab colleagues were able to implement precautionary measures to keep themselves safe in the lab, including working staggered shifts, offering individual storage units for personal items and disinfecting common areas after use. They also established a new lab routine that works for their area of study. However, some challenges have been tougher to overcome than others.

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Image: Veterinary student Hannah Kemelmakher works under a hood in a vet hospital lab. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

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