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The final year of my Ph.D. during the COVID-19 breakout

UBC has been closed to graduate students since March 19th...


The majority of my PhD has involved working in the lab running samples to a bench-top Laser Optic Particle Counter (LOPC) that I set up in 2016. Over the course of 3 years I've run over 2,000 samples through this instrument. When the university closed I had 50 samples left to run - the equivalent of 5 x 12 hour days in the lab. At the time everyone thought we would be back in the lab in a month... I was much more skeptical. Given the situation, I decided to cut samples from my dissertation. This was a difficult decision, but I knew that waiting to run those samples could potentially delay my graduation by several months. It wouldn't be possible to do 'part' of my analysis now, as 4/5 chapters depend on the same data manipulated in various ways.

Working from home used to be something that I enjoyed, I always found I was much more productive at home than at the office where I could be distracted. However, when you are forced to do something that you enjoy doing, the enjoyment tends to subside...very quickly...

Working at my kitchen table for two weeks became incredibly uncomfortable, so my partner built me a stand up desk (my saving grace!). At least now at the end of the work day I feel like I deserve to retreat to my couch.

In Canada we are incredibly fortunate, particularly in Vancouver. The landscape is beautiful and you can get out for a walk during the day to stretch your legs. In this situation we learn a great deal about our friends and family, but also ourselves. For the most part, people in Vancouver have been incredible. On occasion, someone will express the belief that they deserve to enjoy life, regardless of a global pandemic. Why should they have to be locked inside, if they get sick, they are young, they know they will recover. If they contribute to the spread of COVID-19 unknowingly, survival of the fittest - the underlying Darwinist comes out.

Then you see the selfless acts - the people posting signs offering to get groceries for those that are unable. The people checking in regularly on those that live alone. Those people are incredible.


It is most important that we all enjoy the little things in life, and celebrate the small victories during this time.


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