How scientists are thinking about reopening labs


We now speak with David Grimm online news editor at science. His recent article navigates the treacherous waters of researchers returning to their labs and fieldwork amid the coronavirus pandemic even for scientists fortunate enough to resume their research. Strange situations await greatly reduced lab teams physical distancing and face masks and the risk of corona virus infection to name a few. Hi David Angel. There's been plenty of talk about how and when researchers might return to their labs and it seems that now. The time has come for some of them. Could you highlight a few major studies that have now resumed work in a sense if it remains true that most labs especially labs that are not working on component virus are still closed or only partially open right now? It seems like labs in Europe have opened a little bit earlier. There was allowed to open a couple weeks ago and more opening now when my story I talked about any everything from research vessels going out in the Gulf of Alaska to study fish populations to archaeologist steady each feces and so obviously none of us have to do with corona virus which is why all these studies were shut down but some these are gingerly starting to reopen a little bit. How our institutions deciding which labs reopen? Will you know? It's really interesting. Some places are allowing all labs to reopen but the after we open a very limited capacity Aquino only a twenty five percent capacity will be a couple of people can be in the lab at one time in other places. Universities are prioritizing critical projects. And in that case that that be you know. Post are for Grad. Student is only a couple months away from finishing their post doc or their thesis and they just needed to accomplish more experiments. They're being allowed to come in just to finish those experiments and some of them. Don't even have supervision right. Now is not the case. So one re-stripe talks to a Nora Sistiaga who is at the University of Copenhagen Denmark. She's wants studying each and feces and she was allowed to go back into her lab by the team because she was so close to finishing data that she needed to complete her post doc but she can't do that because the restrictions are such that she can't go in by herself and her project requires somebody to supervisor and so the both can't be there at the same time because the restrictions imposed by the university so even though the genes allowing her to go back. She can't go back because she she. She can't do this work by herself. Even cases where people are allowed to go back. They're not always able to go back. One thing. Everyone even those outside of science or grappling with is that business as usual is no longer a thing what changes are being implemented in labs and feel work that might represent the new normal. Yes so the biggest thing is is the physical distance thing. So that's why the numbers have been so reduced so you imagine if the lab of twenty people were crowded together on the small lab benches knees take orders. That just can't happen right now. Because of the risk of transmitting corona virus and so she having instead his labs being allowed to have. Maybe two or three people come in Saint Time. And everybody's got to be in a separate room or the least have to be six feet of ARD and so that's one of the big things and also most decisions are requiring employees to wear face masks so even if you only have a public lab. Everybody's gotTa wear face masks at all time. Those seem to be the standard things. That are the same regardless of the type of laboratory. You're talking about. There are differences now because some labs are used to labs at deal with ancient DNA for example. These people are wearing full protective gear all the time because they don't WanNa candidate per sample. So they they are. They're already very used to wearing masks. Whereas maybe physicists owners who don't normally have to wear masks are now being forced to wear those fulltime. At least when they're in laboratory conditions a lot of these scientists and institutions are taking that leap to reopen labs and go back to research are scientists and institutions preparing for the possibility of labs having to close again. Yeah that's the really big problem. Because even as lobs kind of gingerly reopen and they're taking all these protective measures to make sure researchers can be there do their experiments. There's always a chance that things will up again. There could be an outbreak of cases in a particular area and then Milan has closed down again with university has to close down again. That's still something that's being actively sort of considered about how to deal with that and again different universities institutions dealing met with that in different ways so for example the Swiss veteran institute of Aquatic Science narrow allowing people to come back to work but one of the edicts is. Don't start new projects and don't start any projects that can't be stopped on short notice and the idea is that you don't want to start a project that's going to take you a year to finish and has to be done continuously. If there's a chance your research going to be shut down again in a month or two and so it really trying to ties the work. That is just finishing up or work that can be done. Maybe just a few weeks in case things have to shut down again.

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