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Physics in the pandemic: ‘I took inspiration from the healthcare sector and brought in a therapist for my lab’

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Andrea Armani is a chemical engineering and materials science professor at the University of Southern California, US. This post is part of a series on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the personal and professional lives of physicists around the world. If you’d like to share your own perspective, please contact us at pwld@ioppublishing.org . Collaborative environment Andrea Armani (right) and members of her research group in their lab before the pandemic. (Courtesy: Andrea Armani) As the leader of a materials science and engineering laboratory , my office – situated in the middle of a sea of experimental spaces, white boards, and group member desks – was rarely quiet before the pandemic. The murmurs of derivations from the white boards and the swinging of the doors to our optics and synthetic chemistry labs provided a constant background hum. And although I am trained as a physicist, the members of my group come from numerous scientific and engineering backgrounds, creating a rich, dynamic research environment.

During the past year, these noises and interactions have vaporized. As I work from the isolation of home while my group members perform research (at significantly reduced capacity) in the lab, our entire research environment and […]

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