5 June 2020
  David Bovard

David Bovard, Scientist - Microphysiology Systems

1. How did the lockdown affect your typical work day? 

My work at PMI is to develop new in vitro models which are later used to test the safety and efficacy of our smoke-free products. I also establish new collaborations with universities or small companies that help us develop those in vitro models. A typical day is composed of 60% lab activity where I maintain in vitro human cultures, develop new cultures and assays, and perform exploratory studies. The remaining 40% is composed of administrative tasks (reporting data, writing study plans, and meetings). During the lockdown, my activity in the lab was reduced to a maximum of 20% per day as only the critical activities were maintained. Over the last weeks, my activity in the lab has increased to 50% per day as work in the lab has slowly picked up again.

2. What do you think the "new normal" will look like? 

It is likely that the lab activity will not be impacted by the crisis. Nevertheless, I can imagine that a lot of colleagues will remain at home whenever possible. The crisis has demonstrated that people can work from home efficiently. The Cube can be quite lively during normal times, so some people might prefer to work in the quietness of their homes. As such, the "new normal" may be composed of more calls instead of in-person meetings.

3. What were the positive aspects for you during the lockdown? 

Thanks to the lockdown and the necessary refocusing on key priorities, the workload was slightly reduced offering more time to think (a key aspect when you are a scientist), more time to create and innovate. Many weeks were intense with calls to plan new activities, test new products and even start new collaborations. This confirms that this extra time was beneficial. I also firmly believe that this extra time enabled us to ensure that the work we performed was done more efficiently and was of even higher quality. I hope this positive effect continues beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

4. What interesting scientific pieces did you read during lockdown? 

Most of the papers I read discussed the COVID crisis from the perspective of nature. Since I am a nature lover, I was especially fascinated by articles showing how nature regained its rights with animals wandering around big cities, enjoying a moment of rest and calm in our generally boiling society.

Nature in the city

5. How do you think travel will be impacted?

Our way of travelling will certainly be the element most impacted by the crisis. The most optimistic predictions I’ve read in the media suggest flights might not return to normal until 3 to 4 years from now. I think that the virus has put a clear stop to the frenetic growth of travel. Given the economic crisis that will follow the virus, the slow resumption of travel, and the potential change in the mentality of people who will first enjoy the places close to home, we can therefore think that tourism should remain calm for some time. Given the present calm in all the tourist locations of the world, I will take advantage of it and visit places usually overwhelmed by tourists, like Bali for example. 

6. How did your personal daily routine benefit from the lockdown? 

I'm married and I own a cat. The crisis allowed us to spend a lot of time together, but above all to enjoy a wonderful walk during the day. Working from home allowed us to disconnect at any time, to take our shoes and go for a walk to enjoy a particular atmosphere or a particular weather. The cat was delighted to have its owners at home to take care of it.

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