The trials of moving a lab during COVID-19 times
Rockefeller University Press’ Journal of Cell Biology asked seven scientists around the world to share their experiences of uprooting their research careers and laboratories during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Senthil Arumugam was one of them.
Dr Arumugam moved his lab from the University of New South Wales to Monash BDI in September 2019. Microscopy is a very central part of the (Cellular Physiology) lab, he said. “COVID-19–imposed lockdowns in Melbourne made it evident that going full steam was not possible; my microscopes would have delays, and I had to restrategise,” he said.
“To restart the lab with a dedicated microscope to train students, and to be able to perform some experiments, I scavenged through old microscope parts at our imaging facility and various other storages and put together a wide-field microscope to perform live-cell studies. Monash Faculty of Nursing, Medicine, and Health (FMNHS) and Monash Microimaging (MMI) helped provide access to other specialist microscopes with COVID-safe protocols in place, allowing us to complete impending experiments for the revision of a manuscript.
We also moved our analysis computers home, allowing us to work remotely.”
Dr Arumugam said the challenge was made easier by his team. “I am incredibly lucky and proud to lead a very adaptable and persevering group.”
Since relocating his lab, Dr Arumugam has used sophisticated technology - Lattice Light Sheet Microscopy - to describe a novel ‘priority-shipping’ process for epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR). These findings were published in Communications Biology. . Read more about this research here.