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Students and Faculty Return to the Lab After COVID-19 Shutdowns

By Nicole Carrera

Published on September 28, 2020

As COVID-19 caused mass shutdowns across the country at the end of the Spring 2020 semester, USciences labs were interrupted and forced to halt all in-person work. By June, students and faculty were able to return to the bench and continue their research.  

In the Industrial Pharmacy Lab (IPHL), lab director Pardeep Gupta, PhD, and his team had their pharmaceutical industry clients to consider when shutting down the lab. “We were shut down for almost three months, and the good thing is that our industry clients stayed with us,” Dr. Gupta shares. “One company even held up their phase one clinical trial supplies because of our lab, and we are really very thankful for that.”

Upon returning to the lab, Dr. Gupta and his team worked long hours to catch up on the time they missed. “Our scientists were here the very first day they were allowed to come back in,” Dr. Gupta shares of his team. “To put things in perspective, we have been able to catch up to more than half the time we lost during the shutdown.”

"It was important that we made sure the equipment was prepared for long-term absence from the lab."

-- Melissa Manners, PhD

Shutting down and re-opening a lab aren’t simple tasks. “The lab shut down completely,” shares Melissa Manners, PhD. “It was important that we made sure the equipment was prepared for [our] long-term absence from the lab.”

Jason Wallach, PhD, explains that his focus has been safety when re-opening his lab. “Just getting ready and coordinating [social] distancing, having the proper protective equipment, and how we’re going to sterilize shared equipment,” he said.

Just because in-person lab work was halted, USciences faculty and student researchers continued to work hard from home. Drs. Gupta, Wallach, Manners, and their research teams were all able to utilize time during the shutdown to focus on other things. 

Dr. Wallach used the time to think more deeply about his ideas. “I’m usually managing working in the lab, teaching, and writing, so I had the chance to step back and focus a little more”. Dr. Wallach and his team also spent time preparing for their return to the lab, which allowed them to “hit the ground running” as soon as they were able. 

"...I had the chance to step back anf focus a little more."

-- Jason Wallach, PhD

Drs. Gupta and Manners used their time to publish papers and organize their data, with Dr. Gupta’s team even publishing a review article about COVID-19. 

Ultimately, USciences researchers are happy to be back working in their labs.”Some of our work can be done virtually,” shares Dr. Manners, “but the new information and new data that we always seek to generate we were not able to do during the shutdown.”

Categories: News, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, Neuroscience, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty, Students, Research, Coronavirus