Today’s guest blog is written by Sophie Mancha, a global marketing intern with Promega this summer. She will be starting her 4th year as a PhD candidate in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying pancreatic cancer.
Graduate students are used to working. Not only during regular work hours but also well into the night to finish readings or work on data analysis. Ripping graduate students away from their research as they desperately try to produce useful data may be as hard as finding toilet paper during the first few months of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. However, across the world graduate students saw their research come to a screeching halt. The pandemic took over and everyone suddenly went into quarantine.
I clearly remember my first virtual lab meeting. We all frantically tried figuring out what video-conferencing platform to use and how to share our screens. We kept repeating “stay calm” as we naively thought this would only last a couple of weeks. As the months went by, I began to panic. I realized I had finished analyzing the last remaining data I had left and was no longer being “productive”. This quickly spiraled into thoughts that I may never earn my PhD.
During this time of adjusting to a new normal, one of the most difficult things that I have had to get used to is being productive in my own home. Work from home (WFH) days are embraced by some people and not by others. For me, transitioning from working in an office and school setting, to working at-home and completing online courses, has led me on a search for answers about how to get the most out of my day. After creating a productive at-home work environment for me, I wanted to share some of my findings with you.
Here are some of the tips that I have found useful:
Section out a portion of your home for work only.
When I first started working from home, I moved room to room working wherever I felt most comfortable. I soon found this affected my organization and time management, so I started keeping all my work in one area. Now, as I sit here writing this post, I know where all of my work is, and I also know that when I walk out of this area I can ‘power down’ my mind knowing I no longer have to do work.
Today’s blog is contributed by guest blogger Caitlin Cavanaugh, Client Support Consultant with Promega North America.
Recently, I began a new role as a client support consultant at Promega. In this role, I’m responsible for all technical and sales support for the Promega portfolio in the New Jersey and Philidelphia area.
Before coming to Promega, I worked in a lab at a start-up company right out of college, then made my way into sales, where I worked for a leading life-science instrumentation company for thirteen years.
Musicians wait onstage as the sound tech adjusts the cables around them. He signals “OK” and runs back through the seats of the empty auditorium to the mixing board. The musicians all dressed in black, instruments in hand, prepare to play. Four sharp whacks from the drummer’s sticks and music fills the space. Horns, keyboards, electric guitar, bass, and harmonica back singers as they belt out the upbeat earworm Drive It Like You Stole It. They sound great and make it look pretty effortless too, which is why it’s hard to believe these “rock stars” are also scientists, marketers, IT specialists, lawyers, you name it, who make up the Promega employee band, Lead Generation. (Thank marketing for the name.)
“Lead Generation is just one of the many opportunities at Promega that make it truly unique,” says Kris Zimmerman, a research scientist who sings and plays trumpet with the band. “Any kind of expression of creativity can help you to have different perspectives and be a better problem solver. Fostering an environment where collaboration and creativity are rewarded really helps to create a sense of belonging, and creates a vibe of excitement that you don’t find just anywhere. Plus how cool is it to tell people that you play in a band? At work?”
When he was a kid, Matt Hanson would disappear into the basement for an entire day and emerge later with a completed model of the USS Constitution or a completed robot or a new rocket (he still makes model rockets). Design and how things fit together have always fascinated him, so a career in science was a natural fit as well.
Today Matt is a Quality Control Supervisor/QA Senior Scientist at Promega Corporation at the Madison, WI, USA, campus. He has been with Promega for 5 years now.
After completing his undergraduate studies in molecular biology, a masters in zoology where he focused on cell biology, and a PhD in developmental biology and immunology, Matt was fortunate to pursue a successful and rewarding career as an Associate Staff Scientist in the Department of Surgery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work focused on diabetes and transplantation biology.
Spring Fever! It seems everyone has it around here. Last week, people were the happiest I have seen in a while, and I’m certain the nicer weather had a lot to do with that. With school-age children, it seems that Spring Break is a hot topic of conversation, but an exotic vacation is not always possible for families. So, what can you do if you aren’t taking a Spring Break trip but still want to do something fun with the family? We’ve done staycations a couple times in the past. An overnight in a motel is like a vacation to my children, so that’s popular, but we are looking for new ideas. Here are a few that have been suggested:
Camping out! The weather isn’t quite there yet in Wisconsin, but getting out the sleeping bags and having flashlights in the family room is super fun. No electronics, so you get to spend some time together without movies, cell phones or video games.
Movie Marathon! We’ve picked a certain type of movie (robots, monsters, etc.), and made popcorn with sweet treats. Pajamas all day on the couch.
Scavenger Hunt! Who doesn’t love one? Take the time to create a really fun one that will take a while to get through. This will keep your family entertained for a couple hours if you do it right.
Spend the day like a tourist in your own town! There are so many places that get overlooked in our own communities because we are too busy living our lives to explore. I’ve never been to a local museum here! Do some things that people travel to your city to do and see.
Family Board Game Tournament! You will be surprised how much fun you can have playing board games. Mix it up so you have a variety. Prizes and snacks too!
Having never grown a vegetable garden, I took advantage of some planting space in the Promega community garden in June 2010. Since most of my yard is shaded, this was the first time I had the opportunity to dig up soil, sow seeds, weed, water and harvest produce. I now have a greater appreciation for the effort it takes to place a ripe, beefsteak tomato on my plate. During this experience I learned that 1) I thankfully had two garden experts in my department, 2) not all winter squash is as edible as it appears on the seed package, 3) one gallon of water weighs 8.34 lbs. or 3.79 kgs, and 4) mosquitoes can form mushroom clouds when you disturb their shady garden retreats.
Looking toward the 2011 growing season, I was a bit skeptical when I heard that Promega’s Manager, Culinary Experience and new Head Chef, Nate Herndon, was overseeing the preparations of the employee community garden in addition to a new kitchen garden. Little did I know what culinary inspirations Nate and his staff would create for our three on-site cafeterias. Continue reading “Our Glorious Kitchen Garden”
Grad school is no walk in the park. Whether the topic is English or Astrophysics, most grad students would agree that the journey to the coveted PhD can simply be described as “hard”- academically, financially, mentally. It is very important to have an outlet for the associated stress such as a hobby or exercise. My outlet was music. Music is very important in my life. It is so important that most people close to me have their own soundtrack that plays in my head when I think of them. Needless to say, music played a big part in saving my sanity during my 7.5 years in grad school. As time went on, there were several songs that marked important milestones and emotions I experienced along the way. When I defended my thesis, I decided to leave the department with a musical story of how I made it through. I created a compilation CD of all these songs to share with the department and any other struggling grad students I encountered. The CD has a custom label featuring the structure of the protein I studied, cardiac troponin C.
During spring cleaning we open up the windows, get rid of the junk we no longer need (or never needed in the first place- goodbye Bumpit) and give our carpets a much needed deep clean. When we are done we feel energized, organized, and focused—ready to take on the world again. What if we could apply this principle to our lives? Hear me out ….a big area of discussion these days is how to achieve a work-life balance. Sort of like spring cleaning for your life, getting better at organizing your time and taking more time for things that are important to you and rejuvenate your spirit instead of just your home. Something tells me we would all be happily surprised with the results. Guess what, The Executive Office of the President, Council of Economic Advisers, agrees. Continue reading “Spring Cleaning Our Lives”
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