16 June 2020
Kacper Kaminski, Scientist
1. How did the lockdown affect your work?
I work in plant physiology and molecular biology. As such, there is no "typical" day I could describe, as work is distributed among laboratory, bioinformatical analysis and scientific dissemination, and writing patents and manuscripts for international journals. I also coordinate several projects that we have established with external partners from both private and public sector. After the lockdown, more work was, of course, done from home, yet I had access to the labs throughout that time. As such, I was happy about the excellent precautions that were taken and felt safe in the Cube, our research center in Neuchatel. In summary, I’m lucky that the lockdown affected my work only to a minor extent, if at all.
2. Why did your role require access to the lab during those times?
For the purpose of keeping various projects on track and meeting deadlines that were agreed both internally and with external partners. I required access to the laboratories to perform experiments in case there was a need for it.
3. How did your interaction with colleagues change your role, with you in the lab and many of your colleagues at home?
I believe many of us at PMI missed face-to-face interactions. Yet, I had only good interactions with colleagues in virtual space. Laboratory work on the other hand was mostly performed individually.
4. How do you think your work will be impacted in the long term by the pandemic?
I like to be optimistic and think we will get back to pre-lockdown normal way of work. However, this may not be the case. In many ways we were prepared at PMI for such a situation better than other companies by having flexible working opportunities. If I would need to guess, we will be having face-to-face meetings only if it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise meetings will be held online. There will be more work performed from home, perhaps, when possible. This would certainly change the work culture, but to what extent, we will only see in the future.
5. What changes did you make in response to the lockdown that you would like to keep in place in the "new normal"?
I would like to keep the option of joining meetings online. In certain cases, it’s much more efficient rather than booking offices, which are often occupied, and limiting the time of moving around from one meeting room to another. On the other hand, personal interactions are also important, so it really depends on a specific meeting.
6. What interesting scientific pieces have you read recently?
An interesting piece, related to my work, I have read is the article "Identifying genetic variants underlying phenotypic variation in plants without complete genomes" by Y. Voichek and D. Weigel.
7. How do you predict that business travel will change in the future and where would you travel?
I think it’s already changed. From my personal experience many conferences have been converted to an online form, which from my perspective is absolutely overdue. It should have been done many years ago, so that one can listen and ask questions during lectures and presentations without the need to travel, sometimes taking 10- to 12-hour flights and booking a hotel. Of course, for business meetings personal interactions are crucial. If I could travel, it would be for a conference in Greece in September. However, it has been cancelled. I can certainly imagine shorter business trips in Switzerland.
8. Did you have family or pets at home that you were caring for during lockdown?
Yes, I did. They cared for me as much as I did for them. I guess not much was changed in our routine.