Staying Productive Away from the Lab During a Quarantine | Virtual Learning and Other Tips for Scientists and Researchers | Corning

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Cities and states are ordering their residents to stay home. Academic centers are staggering lab hours or closing outright. Social distancing is the new normal. Many scientists are at home, wondering what they can do. Can scientists really stay productive if they are far away from their labs?

Can they ever.

You might not have a mass spectrometer or a centrifuge handy — and if you're homeschooling your kids, you wouldn't want them around that equipment, anyway. But by taking advantage of virtual learning opportunities and by utilizing some creative tips and tools, you can keep your skills sharp and the science going while you're at home. All you need is a laptop.

Lab With a Laptop: 5 Ways to Science at Home

Labs around the world are keeping their work moving by collaborating remotely. Here are five ways you can partake in what Nature calls "science-ing at home."

1. Take a virtual class.

In the age of social distancing, virtual learning has never been more relevant. Many Ivy League schools are now offering free online courses in computer science, health and medicine, data science, and more. (Free Code Camp hosts a clearinghouse here.) Harvard features a list of trending science courses on its website; topics include Quantitative Methods for Biology and Statistics in R. Webinars can also be a helpful tool to learn from fellow researchers. Don't limit yourself to the scientific topics, either. You can always brush up on your grant writing and presentation skills.

2. Establish a virtual learning network.

Even if your lab experiments are on hold, collaboration with your colleagues shouldn't be. Start new virtual events and hangouts like remote journal club meetings. That quasi-face-to-face activity can help you stay active in your field, share what you're learning, and maintain interaction with other human beings.

3. Work on a manuscript.

This time at home could be the perfect opportunity to take another look at that paper you've been meaning to get published. The American Association for the Advancement of Science recommends using your stay-at-home time to whip up an outline or otherwise get your thoughts down, or to polish an existing draft or transform part of your text into an attractive graph to better illustrate your findings.

4. Search for grant opportunities.

If you're in academia, keep your funding pipeline full — and brace for the long-term economic impact of COVID-19 — by proactively searching for open awards. The comprehensive guide from the American Association for the Advancement of Science shows you where to search for funding and how to get it.

5. Review raw data.

Scientists told Nature that they foresaw their labs closing and gathered as much raw data as they could in the early weeks of the pandemic. You might not have been so lucky (or prophetic), but there's probably some backlog of data that you could dig through. Now's the time to hunker down.

Check In on Yourself and Others

The coronavirus pandemic has launched a new normal for families and professionals around the world. Kids are home from school, and spouses are working alongside each other in close quarters. While the science must go on, it's still OK to unplug from it every once in a while and to rearrange your schedule so that it's more flexible and more forgiving. Check in with yourself and others to make sure everyone's OK, inside and out.

You can still keep up with the important work you do — and you should. Pull out your laptop, get creative, and stay productive.

Corning Life Sciences is fully committed to serving our customers across the life sciences industry, particularly at a time when the work being done by many researchers is critical to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about applications and resources for COVID-19.