MCQST Community: life in the time of coronavirus

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 is changing a lot about how we work and keep in touch with colleagues, friends, and family. Check out how "the new normal" looks like for our community.


MCQST Community shares: life in the time of coronavirus

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 is changing a lot about how we work and keep in touch with colleagues, friends, and family. We have reached out to the MCQST community, inviting members to share how they are currently working and what challenges they are facing.


Here are some of the answers we received so far:

Silvia Schulz | TUM Mathematics Department

“In a small corner of my living room, I have set up all I need for my daily work: a laptop with almost all the programs I need, connected to a screen, and a printer. Next to me, my 6 year old, besides handicrafts and painting utensils, gets from time to time a digital game to pass the time. Today he does an "English learning kids program" in the morning, although he is still in kindergarten and preschool. Other times, he builds different objects using Lego Technic. There are plenty of ideas and materials in the depths of the children's room.”


Friedemann Reinhard | Walter Schottky Institute & TUM
“I can very much recommend the app ExplainEverything for creating online lectures, but I have not found a good app for a virtual whiteboard yet. Any insight on that would be welcome. For your entertainment, here is a photo of my current setup. I am enjoying this time a lot, writing a new paper every few days and still having more time for leisure. I'd love to run remote experiments though, which at TUM we unfortunately aren't allowed to do.”

Home office setup with monitor, laptop, tablet, keyboard, camera, speakers. © Friedemann Reinhard


Friedemann has recently written an article for the MCQST Science Blog about the current situation and its effects both on the scientific community, as well as on the environment.

Read: “Did Greta Thunberg create the Corona virus?


Mari Carmen Bañuls | Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics

Mari Carmen recommends the Crowdfight COVID-19 project. It is an initiative from the scientific community to put all available resources at the service of the fight against COVID-19. It is well worth a look and a way for scientists to help out, as much they can.


Wolfgang Heckl | Deutsches Museum

Nake sure to check out the museum’s YouTube channel. Here you can find a series of informative videos, covering the various exhibits of the museum. Additionally, Deutsches Museum offers weekly guided tours of different areas of the museum (both in english and german), live streamed on their social media channels.

If you missed one, you can later view it on YouTube, in the Treffpunkt Führung playlist.


Barbara Tautz | MCQST

“In the current situation, more and more people might feel the effect of loneliness. Research shows that loneliness actually has physical effects. It causes stress, sleeplessness and heart diseases among other things. Psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad even claims that lack of social connection increases our health risks as much as 15 cigarette per day, see APA's The risks of social isolation article. We actually physically suffer from loneliness. I have learned to identify the effects of loneliness on me as a deep, heavy pit in my stomach.

In itself, feeling loneliness is not a bad thing. It is a natural instinct to motivate us to reconnect with other people. Hence, when I feel the pit in my stomach, I read it as a sign to do something about it.

What is great about working in a team and in an office is that, without noticing, we have a lot of social interaction throughout the day. For instance, throughout every (normal) morning at work, I meet most of my colleagues at some point when we are getting coffee in the kitchen. This is what I was missing at the beginning of working from home period. Therefore, I realized that I needed to incorporate and create little islands of (virtually) meeting people. One way of recreating “normality” is to use virtual spaces as meeting points. Starting last week my colleagues and I have tried having a short catch up every morning in a “virtual kitchen” while making or drinking coffee. We are still trying to figure out the best format for our group but just knowing that I can create this space and invite others to join me has made a great difference!”


Criss Hohmann | MCQST

Criss has taken on challenge of perfecting his pizza-making skills.

"Besides working in my home office during these pandemic times, I am also trying to enhance some of my other skills as well... like creating the perfect pizza dough. Such a recipe is quite suitable for a quarantine situation, since it takes several days for a good dough to rest. In order to do it right, I dug through dozens of YouTube videos, and found this one as the best. as the best.

Homemade pizza with various toppings. © Christoph Hohmann (MCQST)

To be honest, my final dough was not perfect, but it came pretty close to perfection. So I'll keep trying!"


Michelle Lorenz | MCQST

"I don't have a desk at home, but I do have a large kitchen table that I can convert to a desk perfectly every morning. Meanwhile, after three weeks in home office, I have a good setup. The cupboards have been rearranged so that my printer (bought especially due to this situation) could find its place and my laptop can easily be put out of sight after work. Documents I work with have received a nice box, so that they can be stowed neatly - maybe I'm a little fanatic about order. To-do lists, for which I use a desk calendar, are sorted according to colour and priority and I cross them out after finishing work, help me to see what I got done and keep a general overview.

In addition, the daily video contact with my colleagues gives me a slice of the pervious everyday life, especially now that the way to the office is missing more than I ever thought possible.

For a little change, I try to do things in my private life that I have never tried before. I paint on canvas, sew cushions or do yoga and meditation sessions in an online studio. My two cats got a new self-built scratching post, and I also try to bake bread."


Anca Ionescu | MCQST

As for me, I am grateful to be able to work well from home, which I rather enjoy, especially since I get to finalize some projects that were on hold for a while now. Even though I miss my colleagues, our daily virtual kitchen meeting helps me stay connected with them.

I did find that the days and weeks have started to blend and time was somehow warping, so I started keeping a quarantine log, where I note anything that was special on a particular day – from relevant happenings in the news to the tasks I accomplished, from new recipes I tried to other skills I work on improving. It is my way of documenting this period in time, all the while making each day feel distinctive.


Seeing that others go through the same challenges helps us feel less alone, while learning how others tackle the new everyday challenges inspires us to find the right routines and tools for us. If you would like to share any tips or stories, please reach out via anca.ionescu[at]mcqst.de.

We are happy to update the article.

Stay safe!


Resources

  • From updates for staff or students to relevant articles about COVID-19 research or insight and support on how to best manage this situation, we recommend you regularly check our partner institute websites:
    LMU website
    TUM website
    MPI of Quantum Optics website
  • MCQST and its Equal Opportunity Office is open to any inquiries or needs you may have regarding the current situation. Please feel free to get in touch at barbara.tautz[at]physik.uni-muenchen.de.

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