Before the Covid-19 pandemic started…and after

Before Covid-19, I had already produced the first batch of nanofibers to be tested in repellency bioassays with the pear leaf suckers. That’s where the challenge begins. This year, until now, we have had a decrease of those insects population in the field. Well, that happens some times, and it usually is because of weather conditions. We had a wet winter, which delayed the insect’s population growth. So, I couldn’t capture enough specimens for all tests. In the meantime, I have started the release tests evaluation of the repellents from nanofibers, but again something happened. We have to solve a defect on our volatile detector.  Despite of that, everything was getting back on track, and the equipment was back to work.

I have submitted an abstract to the 72nd International Symposium on Crop Protection. It happens every year at Ghent University, in Belgium, and receives scientists from all over the world. The symposium this year would focus on new developments in all aspects of crop protection. This event fits perfectly the kind of work I am developing, and besides, it is an excellent opportunity to gather with other scientists of the field and to receive some feedback.  This work was accepted for oral presentation, in which I intended to show results obtained in this project so far.   

At the end of the winter, my advisor asked me if I would appreciate receiving two Master students from Gottingen to do an internship of six weeks and joining me in my project. One would start on April 1st, and the other one in August. I always feel happy about hosting students and having them working with me. They are motivated, have some great ideas, and I always learn a lot from them. Beyond that, I use this situations to create small projects for them that they can manage themselves, discussing the results, and making improvements when needed.

I was really excited to have this extra power and those extra hands to help with the work.

After the Covid-19 pandemic, everything started to fall apart. The two weeks the followed the announcement of the pandemic were full of fear and uncertainties. Would we be allowed to keep working? We didn’t know which generated more panic to the students that are working at the institute: the disease or not being able to complete the research.

After that, all universities were closed, classes were canceled, and the students were no longer allowed to come to the institute, as well as no technical support from external companies could be requested for sanitary reasons.

Worldwide congresses and scientific meetings were canceled or postponed to 2021. Unfortunately, those events will not happen. And, well, my communication plan is completely ruined.  In my opinion, it is essential to participate in those events annually, bringing your work to the highlights and presenting it to a big group where you can really communicate with people, LIVE. Afterwards, informal conversations happen, a new partnership can start, and maybe new projects and ideas can grow, but, this year, any of that will be possible. As well as I am not able to travel to do some tests at other institutions, as I have planned.

For me, the Covid-19 pandemic affected not just this project, but also other sectors of my life. I am, as we all are, concerned about the health of my family and my loved ones. I started to feel the consequences of social distancing, such as reduced focus and steam, but I will keep working on the activities that can be accomplished and do my best after all.

Bruna Czarnobai De Jorge, N-GAGE Champion

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