25 March 2020

Notes from a pandemic: Coronavirus campus

These pictures of UTRGV were taken Monday, 23 March 2020, when I went to campus to feed my crayfish. You could be forgiven for thinking they were taken the first day of spring break rather than the first day after spring break.

There were a few people on campus, but not many.

And frankly, I’ve always loved campuses when there are not many people around. I like the calm, and it was kind of beautiful.

Through a weird series of events, I am probably one of the people least affected by the COVID-19 pandemic I know.

Because I had spent the better part of the last two years mainly working on the Better Posters book:

I had been teaching online courses for the last couple of years. My teaching load was anywhere from mostly to exclusively online for the last few semesters. I had only one face-to-face class this semester, my neurobiology class. That course didn’t have a lab component. I had a good idea of how to move its course content online from my other online class experiences.

I didn’t have a lab to shut down. Because I was writing from home, I wasn’t taking students. My lab space (with my consent) got reassigned to another group of researchers from another department. I didn’t fight it because I wanted to be a team player, and I was working on the book anyway. So I thought, “No problem, I’ll get lab space once the book manuscript is done and out of the way.” Getting new lab space had taken longer than I expected, and I was getting antsy about it. But this has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, since I didn’t have to go through a process of putting everything away, worrying about trainees, and so on. I only have some crayfish to feed occasionally.

Unrelated to book writing, there’s one more thing that makes my life much less disrupted than many other people.

I don’t have kids. I feel for people who suddenly have kids at home and not at school.

Which is to say:

I’m all right!

Look after yourself and others.

It’s going to be a rough ride.

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