28 April 2020

Since the beginning of lockdown, ESCAPE members have reorganized themselves to balance project activities and family life during the pandemic.  

In the office of his home where he used to telework, Giovanni Lamanna, Coordinator of ESCAPE and workpackage 1 leader, reconciles project coordination and family life: "It's not easy every day and you have to be patient with the fatigue that builds up. Despite the cancellation of many ESCAPE appointments, I am confident. The European Commission is allowing us to bring up the problems linked to this exceptional situation and I am confident that we will catch up, even if for me the priority will remain the health of the people.  If the agenda is disrupted, discussions are continuing, particularly between clusters, highlighting the importance of data interoperability: the Coronavirus outbreak has reaffirmed the urgent need for a transition to Open Science and its impacts on societal challenges. »

The first week was chaotic for Frédéric Gillardo, a member of Working Group 2 "Data Infrastructure for Open Science": "There are four of us in a two-room house. We set up rules and schedules to be respected and now things are going better. My main challenge is to make the children understand that we should not be disturbed and that we are working. Having always worked for European projects, where my collaborators are located in many different countries, confinement has little impact on my work. We were already using online conferencing tools and were used to home-office. Within ESCAPE, we are very well organised, with regular videoconferencing points and remotely accessible work environments at CERN and LAPP. I also appreciate teleworking for the flexibility and lack of transport: no loss of time and no pollution! But even though the confinement allows me to concentrate on my close family, I miss the contact with my friends, the rest of my family and my officemates. »

First thing first, Jutta Schnabel, a member of Working Group 3 "Open-Source Scientific Software and Service Repository", made sure she had a good internet connection: "That's the most important thing! All my work is about computers anyway. Without all the travels, I have a lot of time for programming and coding. Before it was difficult to find three or four hours in a row to concentrate on these tasks. Now, I've got back to my PhD rhythm! From our Working Group point of view, apart from the workshops and the summer school that have been postponed, our work on software development and integration is very well. »

Françoise Genova, a member of Working Group 4 "Virtual Observatory" acknowledges her good fortune to live in a large enough apartment in Strasbourg - she has no child at home any more: "I don't feel the weight of being confined too much. I have a terrace that allows me to take the sun and I already spent a lot of time in videoconferences before confinement. The only difference is that I used to also spend a lot of time travelling to attend meetings and now the meetings have turned into... more videoconferences. Video-fatigue sometimes..."

 

Used to work from home, Zheng Meyer, a member of Working Group 5 « Science Anlysis Platform », is still experiencing a significant disruption to her usual routine : « Working is more challenging with a five years-old child! Especially with programming, where it requires more concentration which is hard to get at the moment! Therefore, I can't do as much as usual and that's why some parts of the project are delayed Besides that, working from home is not a problem as most of our meetings are remote anyway. We even have remote coffee to keep track of people and help us get through this all together ! ».

For Hugh Dickinson, a member of Working Group 6 "Citizen Science”, the impact has been relatively minor: “I feel very lucky. I am not in any of the vulnerable groups that require strict self-isolation and I have not been affected by any shortages or particular difficulties. As an astrophysicist almost all of my work is computer-based and can easily be done at home. Almost all of my interactions with international collaborators and colleagues were carried out by teleconference before the coronavirus crisis, so they have not been impacted. Here in the UK, we’re allowed one outing per day for exercise and essential shopping. To be honest, this is similar to my level of outdoor activity before the “lockdown” - I guess I live a pretty solitary life! All-in-all, beyond missing coffee with my office-mates, life is not noticeably different."

See how one of the Data Center used on ESCAPE is supporting research to fight against COVID-19

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