IGCoffeeConvo with Brian Romans

November 19, 2020

Written by Amber Wendler

IGC fellows Amanda Pennino (Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation), Melissa Burt (Biological Sciences), and Amber Wendler (Biological Sciences) recently met virtually with GCC faculty member Dr. Brian Romans (Geosciences). Dr. Romans is a sedimentary geologist and his research has brought him to places like Antarctica and Patagonia. In addition to traveling to cool locations, Dr. Romans’ research has also allowed him to travel back in time millions of years and he described examining soil cores as “reading a book of Earth’s history.” We quickly realized that being from different disciplines meant that we did not all have the same concept of time. To help us gain a better understanding of Earth’s massive timescales, Dr. Romans recommended a book by Marcia Bjornerud called Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World which we are all excited to read (you can find an eBook version via VT libraries, or watch a relevant seminar recording by Dr. Bjornerud online here: https://youtu.be/Pd9seKaplDI)

While we discussed our research interests for a bit, one topic that couldn’t escape any of our minds was the pandemic. Despite being on week 11 of the semester none of us had quite gotten used to working remotely. We all seemed to be craving new strategies for being productive in this environment while maintaining a good work life balance and overall well-being. We agreed that this is not an easy task and were transparent about some of the challenges we have been facing this semester. Some strategies people have tried are virtual co-working groups, and a shared document with peers to hold each other accountable for completing tasks. Thankfully, it seems that everyone has experienced an increase in empathy from their colleagues leading to flexible deadlines, lower expectations, and additional support when needed. This conversation was refreshing because it reaffirmed that we do not have to deal with the hardships of the pandemic alone. If you are reading this, check in on a community member that you haven’t talked to in a while and ask them how they’re doing, as it’s clear that these conversations can go a long way.

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