Coping during COVID-19 lockdown – Joy Tyson

Joy Tyson, NZPPS Executive

Scientist, Plant & Food Research

As a scientist at Plant & Food Research, I was one of the lucky ones. Within PFR, entire teams were mobilised to ensure that we were able to continue to operate as a ‘virtual institute’. My job remained secure and I had plenty of report and proposal writing to do. And as a scientist, there were always those long-planned manuscripts to keep planning, and hopefully progress. Although the sheer number of online meetings has been a little overwhelming, the daily lab meetings and weekly team meetings helped allay fears that I was perhaps less productive than I could have been.

On a personal level, my husband and I are both scientists, so while he took possession of the kitchen table, I set up in our freezing basement with a beanie and blanket, and our teenage children did online schooling in their rooms. Travel restrictions meant that we were unable to visit my older parents up north. Both have existing health conditions, and it was a constant nagging concern that if something went wrong, we would be powerless to help.

On a physical level, Level-4 lockdown halted planned trials and experiments, work in progress was frozen (not literally), or in some cases destroyed as plants and growing seasons were unfortunately oblivious to the lockdown. Budgets and work plans are still up in the air, with our carefully planned time lines in ruin. Even at Level 2, it is still not business as usual, with social distancing rules resulting in shift work, very careful planning of lab work and some work continuing from the home ‘office’.