Veronica Fall, climate specialist

Veronica Fall is a climate specialist for ISTC, where she provides science-based communication to stakeholders and communities on issues related to climate and climate change. Fall works with other climate service entities that focus on topics like extreme weather and climate change and develops publications and tools explaining complex issues in plain language to help people understand that climate information is useful and necessary. She is also a climate specialist for the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant program (IISG) and the U of I Extension.

She recently answered a few questions about her work.

Tell me a little bit about your role at ISTC.
I am a climate specialist. I primarily work with the Illinois Coastal Management program, which focuses on communicating climate science and the coastal impacts it has along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

How does your work at ISTC impact Illinois and the world?
At ISTC, we’re really focused on addressing some of today’s biggest challenges and concerns about how climate change is influencing society. In my role, I’m focused on helping to build resilient Lake Michigan communities and the greater Chicago area, helping various communities and stakeholders get access to information that will allow them to reduce their vulnerabilities and help them better understand the next steps that can be taken to become resilient in the face of a changing climate.

Do you work more with citizens or local governments?
Between those two options, typically more with local governments, but also federal or state stakeholders within the region. For instance, through ISTC, I primarily work with the Illinois Coastal Management Program, which is part of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) so, we’ll partner with FEMA or the Army Corps of Engineers. I also work with regional organizations across the Great Lakes, so less with citizens and more with other stakeholders and experts.

What is your educational background?
I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Meteorology and also a professional science Master’s degree in climate change and society, which is based more on the interdisciplinary nature of climate science, not just on understanding the physics at play, but also learning about risk communication and climate literacy, but most of my educational background is in meteorology.

What is the best part of your job at ISTC?
The best part is definitely the people. There is a sense of teamwork that we are all working towards a bigger goal to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change and the on-the-ground work and hardships seen within the region.

Is there any scientific topic (outside of your field of research) that you think should have more scientific attention?
I think there’s a greater need to better translate and communicate science by not just speaking science jargon but being able to bring a better understanding to a wider audience. I think that’s a skill that a lot of us with a science background are working on – addressing some of those barriers to entry, like jargon and numbers which can seem very intimidating at first glance.

What work/project/outcome are you most proud of in your career?
During last summer’s IISG summer internship program, I worked with a student to help develop a few products addressing the needs surrounding variable lake levels in the Chicago area. Getting to work with a student and stepping up to that role was scary at first, but also extremely rewarding.

What are common misconceptions about your field?
I have two answers: one is more specific to my meteorology background, and people will ask, “So you want to be on TV?” because that’s what most people’s interaction is with their local meteorologist that they see on the nightly news. The second is a lot of people are still focused on the future impacts of climate change, and I try to phrase it as “The impacts we are seeing today and will continue to see in the future,” but I think a lot of people are still hesitant to say that the impacts are already happening right now. People are hesitant to realize how big a problem it is currently.

Yeah, the climate patterns are amazing, like how the ocean temperatures can change its circulation patterns which can in turn affect El Niño/La Niña climate patterns. People just don’t realize the bigger picture, but that’s also a hard concept to communicate the interconnectedness of it all.
It’s really interesting to observe how certain words enter the public sphere. I remember learning about the polar vortex and thinking that it was sort of a niche meteorology term, and now with some of the winters that we’ve had, people are already saying “oh there’s going to be another polar vortex winter,” so that’s a more common phrase these days, but it’s interesting to see how that sort of moves through the public space.

The polar vortex was thought to be such an extreme weather event, and now people have already learned to expect it.
Yeah, because that polar vortex is being destabilized because of climate change so rather than staying farther north that polar vortex is going to dip down a bit more frequently and we’ll have those really cold crazy blasts during the winter.

I think meteorologists have it tough because of how public-facing their science is. Not a lot of sciences are directly forecasting events and variables that can be measured on such a short timescale, so it’s unique in that way.
Right, like people’s understanding of probability. A 60% chance of rain is still a 40% chance that it won’t rain, but a lot of people round up that 60% chance to mean it is definitely going to rain. Numerical literacy is a skill that many people struggle with and in my role, I try to make those numbers approachable and understandable for non-technical audiences.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career?
Moving more into climate change and its impacts space, I’ve had to learn a lot. While my educational background lends more towards the physics and dynamics behind climate change, I now focus more on understanding the impacts. I’ve had to learn from a lot of different fields such as – understanding how climate change will affect different ecosystems, public health, infrastructure, transportation, etc. I really like that this field lends itself to being a lifelong learner, but there are definitely things that I’ve had to try and pick up and get a better grasp of.

When you aren’t doing science, what else do you love to do?
 In my free time, I like to walk my dog, cook, exercise, read, pretty low-key stuff.

How old were you when you first became interested in science? What sparked your interest?
I always naturally leaned more toward math and science as my favorite subjects, but probably the first event that sparked my interest was that I really couldn’t pull myself away from the T.V. when Hurricane Katrina happened. Seeing all the devastation of the aftermath was really the first event that made me think that meteorology was a field that I’d like to pursue, so that was in middle school for me.

What advice would you give to people just starting out in your field?
It’s okay to not have everything figured out. Many people I’ve talked to have had very circuitous routes to get where they are. But if someone is interested in climate or climate science, it is really helpful to try and dabble in some of the social sciences to try and get an understanding of things like climate or science literacy, risk communication, and the importance of knowing your audience. I think supplementing any of the physical science with social science is key.

Kealie Vogel, senior sustainability specialist

Kealie Vogel is a member of ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program team, where she works to collaborate with businesses, manufacturing, and industrial entities, municipalities, colleges, and universities throughout Illinois to provide technical assistance to find and implement sustainable and energy-efficient opportunities. Before joining ISTC, Kealie worked as a policy advisor at the Illinois Commerce Commission, where she aided in the research, analysis, and development of issues and opinions relating to the energy, water, telecommunication, and transportation industries regulated by the Commission. Kealie earned her bachelor’s degree in natural resources and environmental sciences and a Master’s degree in natural resources and environmental sciences with a concentration in environmental policy from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

She recently answered some questions about her work.

Tell me a little bit about your role at ISTC.
I’m a senior scientific specialist focusing on sustainability within the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP). Day to day, I work on a fairly broad variety of projects centered on energy efficiency, waste reduction, and renewable energy. These projects involve engaging with a wide range of stakeholders throughout the state, from local farmers to municipal water treatment operators to corporate environmental services managers. On any given day, I might be “out in the field” conducting an energy efficiency assessment for a publicly-owned water treatment plant or privately-owned manufacturing facility, interviewing farmers interested in donating excess produce to state food banks, or conducting research on best practices for renewable energy equipment recycling as it reaches the end of its usable life. I learn something new every single day!

What is your educational background/area(s) of expertise?
Prior to joining ISTC, I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in natural resources and environmental sciences from our very own University of Illinois and worked as a policy advisor at the Illinois Commerce Commission. While in grad school, I had the awesome opportunity to serve on the University of Illinois Student Sustainability Committee, a student-funded campus organization that distributes over $1 million annually to support sustainability projects that involve students and help make the University of Illinois campus a great place to be.

How does your work at ISTC impact Illinois and the world?
All of our work focuses on empowering Illinois citizens, companies, and municipalities to curb emissions and waste while also conserving existing resources for the health of our towns, state, and world. When we conduct energy efficiency or waste reduction assessments, we provide specific recommendations to our client companies, public agencies, and municipalities that are aimed at helping them take concrete steps to operate more sustainably. Similarly, our work on other projects like renewable energy equipment recycling and the farm-to-foodbank donation process is aimed at identifying concrete, actionable steps that help make increased sustainability a reality throughout the state.

What is the best part of your job at ISTC?
Working to reduce global greenhouse gas pollution and fight climate change from the comfort of my couch!

What question do you get asked most frequently about your career or the subject you study?
“Don’t you have to be really outdoorsy to work in the environmental sciences?” is one that I’ve often been asked by friends and prospective students interested in the field. I’m personally not much of an outdoorsy person at all (I don’t like bugs and am terrified of snakes), often surprising those asking this question. There are so many career paths in the environmental sciences that are great for those of us who care about the environment without wanting to necessarily spend our time knee-deep in a bog or prairie. I personally chose to pursue a career path oriented on the human dimensions of environmental science and primarily work with people and companies day-to-day, but there are also a wide variety of career opportunities in environmental policy, environmental law, sustainability consulting, corporate social responsibility, and more.

How old were you when you first became interested in science? What sparked your interest?
I have a distinct childhood memory of playing in the backyard one summer evening while my dad listened to NPR and tinkered on projects in the garage. The host of the NPR program was discussing how global temperatures had increased by ~1°F over the past century and would likely continue to increase by a few degrees over the next century. I remember asking my dad what the concern was, since the temperatures in our hometown changed by more than that every day and that was nothing to be concerned about. He explained the difference between weather and climate, how averages work and why a small increase can be so concerning on a large scale, and really helped me understand the root of the issue in a kid-friendly way. That conversation stuck in the back of my head until I had the opportunity to take the A.P. environmental science class in high school which kick-started my interest in doing something to try to address the root causes of our warming planet – the rest is history!

When you aren’t doing science, what else do you love to do?
Thrifting! I really enjoy both fashion and frugality, so thrift store shopping is the perfect way for me to balance both of those interests while also embracing the circular economy and sustainability.

What advice would you give to people just starting out in your field?
I think the importance of becoming involved in opportunities and activities relevant to your areas of interest cannot be overstated. If the idea of becoming involved with a given opportunity makes you simultaneously a little nervous but also excited, go for it! Getting involved in undergraduate research, relevant campus registered student organizations (RSOs), and participating in summer internships from the beginning of my time at the University of Illinois helped me narrow down my specific interests (I realized how much I didn’t like actual field work!) and build up my resume in such a way that I felt quite prepared to pursue graduate school and enter the job market.

Lee Green, chemist

Lee Green is a chemist in the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center’s Applied Research on Industrial and Environmental Systems (ARIES) group. She studies persistent contaminants, specializing in microplastics and PFAS. Scientists are just beginning to discover the impacts that these contaminants have on the human body and the environment.

Lee recently answered some questions about her work.

In one sentence what do you do?
I research persistent contaminants in the environment, specifically microplastics and PFAS.

What is your educational background/areas of expertise?
I have a degree in biology, worked for Abbott labs for five years, then moved, and have been doing different analytical jobs since moving here to Champaign. It’s kind of funny how it worked out because I always thought I’d be doing medical or cancer research, but life takes you in a different direction sometimes, especially if you’re open-minded.

How does your work at ISTC impact Illinois and the world?
The microplastics research is eye-opening for people in general as far as how widespread they are. They’re in our foods and water and our waterways, and people don’t realize how prevalent they are. I hope somewhere down the road we can figure out how to start cleaning up the microplastics or taking control of the issue and bringing light to recycling. There’s still so much research that needs to be done. It’s literally everywhere in things that we use on a daily basis. There’s still not a lot of data out there on the potential health risks as well.

What is the best part of your job at the ISTC?
I love the fact that we’re constantly looking at new projects. Right now we’re looking at microplastics and next, depending on who we collaborate with, we might be working on PFAS. I’m working on a project funded by ISTC’s Hazardous Waste Research Fund (HWRF) that looks at wastewater and how microplastics are transported through the system. I like how you get a different flair of research projects, so it’s never the same thing over and over again. I like the diversity. And the people, I like the people I work with, they make it fun. There’s a lot of great ideas floating around. Not just the projects I work on, but the other projects and seeing how they all collaborate and come together.

What work/project/outcome are you most proud of?
Probably the microplastics projects we’re working on now, even though we’re in the middle of some of these projects. It’s such a hot topic and I think the more work we do the more we see how broad of a problem it is and how it affects people on so many levels. We haven’t published any major papers yet, but I can see that coming in the future. We know a lot about PFAS, how they act, and where they’re found, but microplastics is a whole new world of where to go next. They’re even starting to look at human effects like in the lungs and the tissue and how it is transported in the body. Does our body get rid of that or does it bioaccumulate over time? No one really knows.

What are common misconceptions about your field?
People are always like “Wow you must be really smart then, right?” It’s fun, I really enjoy running the instruments and finding something that you didn’t know was going to be there so it’s funny because people’s reactions are always different.

How old were you when you first became interested in science and what sparked your interest?
It was definitely my junior year in high school. I think I was in anatomy and physiology or biology and I think it was my biology teacher back then, Mr. Kurt Kreiter, who made it so fun. That was a huge spark for me. He made science really interesting and ever since then I’ve been interested in biology and the human body.

When you aren’t doing science what else do you like to do?
I love to golf. I like to bike and cook, go for walks, cruise around in my convertible, and do fun things in nature. Yardwork, taking care of the garden, we just put up a birdfeeder, so nature in general.

What is your favorite tool to use in your everyday work?
Sample prep and analytical analysis. I like to work with my hands and figure out how to process the samples and then run them on the instruments and figure out all the concentrations. I really like the hands-on and analytical aspects of my job.

Is there a particular analytical tool that you like to use?
I’m just learning how to run our new LC-MS (Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometer), so that’s exciting, but I’ve always been a fan of the ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer). There’s just something about seeing the concentrations and figuring out if it’s a good or bad number or “well we really shouldn’t be seeing that in this piece of plastic”. It’s interesting to digest the plastic and see some of the chemicals that used to be used in plastics.

What is your work uniform?
I typically wear jeans, tennis shoes and a t-shirt. But obviously, in the lab we wear lab coats and glasses depending on the chemicals we’re using but we’re pretty casual, which is awesome.

This story originally appeared on the People of PRI blog. Read the original story.

Vanessa DeShambo, environmental engineer

Vanessa joined the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) in December 2021 as an environmental engineer. Prior to joining the ISTC team, she worked at the U of I College of Veterinary Medicine performing case work and research related to veterinary infectious disease with a primary focus on micro and molecular biology. She also spent her early career with the Allen Institute for Brain Science managing research on mouse genetics and neuroscience. Her research is currently focused on improvement of algal systems for wastewater treatment. Projects topics include hydrothermal liquifaction, nanofiltration, algal toxin destruction, bioaugmentation, and endoreduplication.

Vanessa recently answered some questions about her work.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at ISTC?
I’m relatively new to ISTC, and my primary research currently revolves around using algae to treat wastewater and producing biofuels from that algal biomass. I previously worked at the College of Vet Med, Veterinary Diagnostic Lab doing microbiology clinical case work for over six years. I also worked at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Allen Institute for Brain Science, so I have had a lot of different experiences in my career. I earned my bachelor’s degree in biology at St. Norbert College and my Master’s degree in natural resources and environmental science (NRES) from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I have a strong interest in microorganisms, plants, and animals so natural sciences are a great fit for me. I have two kitties and love to garden and play video games in my free time!

What drew you to your particular area of study?
While working at Vet Med I decided to further my education, and chose NRES because I still had a strong interest in the field, but wanted to continue working with microorganisms. I hope to mix my love of microbiology and environmental science to make a positive impact by coming to ISTC!

What tools are indispensable to your fieldwork?
For my work I have a mix of laboratory, project management, and pilot-scale field work. I could be sampling wastewater sludge, teaching a group of students, or I could be analyzing data on any given day. My most valuable tools are Evernote to keep myself organized, Excel to process data, sample vials, and a microscope!

What do you wish more people understood about your work?
That there is no perfect one size fits all solution to our problems. It takes many minds and many solutions to tackle big problems. I also wish people understood that microorganisms can have a big impact on an ecosystem, even though you can’t always see them at work.

This story first appeared on the People of PRI Blog. Read the original story.

Meet Zach Samaras, Technical Assistance Engineer, Sustainability

Zach Samaras, technical assistance engineer, sustainability

by Tiffany Jolley, Prairie Research Institute

Coastal Management Program adds two researchers

ISTC’s Coastal Management Program (CMP) recently added two Coastal Studies Specialists to their team.

Cody Eskew
Cody Eskew

Cody Eskew recently re-joined the CMP team by way of the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute (PRI). Cody provides project management support for CMP objectives on coastal hazards, community resilience, coastal habitats, sustainable economic development, and coastal recreation.

Learn more about Cody on the Prairie Research Institute’s People of PRI blog.


Tara Jagadeesh
Tara Jagadeesh

Tara Jagadeesh brings expertise in communication, data science, and community engagement to support projects for the CMP, including the Shoreline Management Working Group.

Learn more about Tara on the Prairie Research Institute’s People of PRI blog.

ISTC staff honored by Prairie Research Institute

Two ISTC staff members have been honored by the Prairie Research Institute.

Vidya Balasubramanyam
Vidya Balasubramanyam received the Prairie Research Institute’s 2021 Early Career Investigator Award.

Vidya Balasubramanyam, a coastal hazards specialist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), is the recipient of the Prairie Research Institute’s 2021 Early Career Investigator Award.

Vidya’s work supports the Shoreline Management Initiative with the Coastal Management Program (CMP). The project entails coordination and facilitation of land managers from each coastal community working on regulatory and permitting issues; understanding and translating relevant research; developing and shepherding demonstration projects, and broader education and outreach on the issues.

Read a Q & A with Vidya about her work on the People of PRI blog.

Chad Hankins
Chad Hankins received the Prairie Research Institute’s 2021 Outstanding New Support Staff Award.

IT technical associate Chad Hankins is the recipient of the Prairie Research Institute’s 2021 Outstanding New Support Staff Award.

Chad joined the PRI desktop support team in 2019. This small team of three assists PRI’s hundreds of staff in using a wide range of IT tools. The institute’s already considerable IT support needs grew exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic as most staff shifted to working from home and needed to adapt to new ways of collaborating, communicating, and working. He works extensively with ISTC staff to keep them connected.

Read at Q&A with Chad about his work on the People of PRI blog.

People of PRI: Sarmila Katuwal, Visiting Scientific Specialist-Research Engineer

Sarmila Katuwal wears a cloth face covering and standard lab PPE while checking the phosphorous concentration of a designer biochar.
Sarmila Katuwal wears a cloth face covering and standard lab PPE while checking the phosphorous concentration of a designer biochar.


Sarmila Katuwal is involved in two research projects at ISTC. The first, led by B.J. Sharma, focuses on optimization of kraft lignin depolymerization. In the second, led by Wei Zheng, she is working on design of a biochar to capture dissolved phosphorous and ammonia nitrogen from tile drainage water.

Now that the state of Illinois has entered phase 4 of its COVID recovery plan and Katuwal is back in the lab, she talks about what has changed due to COVID-19.

Q. What precautions and safety procedures are you employing to reduce risk? 

The new safety protocols and guidelines by ISTC has made our work lot easier during this crisis. I am strictly using a face mask, practicing social distancing, and avoiding using common spaces in the office, like the lunchroom and conference room. Also, I wear proper PPE (like gloves, lab coat, eye glass) while conducting my research in the lab and do frequent hand cleaning and sanitizing.

The new one-way traffic flow system in the office building and one-person-per-lab rule has helped to reduce the possibility of social contact. In addition, I strictly follow lab cleaning protocols, which involves sanitizing the instruments and work area before and after conducting the experiment.

Q. Are there new challenges that have arisen in the lab?

The new challenges are mostly getting accustomed to new health safety protocols and making sure to follow the procedures strictly to keep myself and others safe. Also, when wearing a face mask and eyeglass together, sometimes, if the face mask is not fitted properly your eyeglass becomes foggy.

I am happy with ISTC’s current protocols, and I hope they will continue, too.

This post originally appeared on the People of PRI blog. Read the original post.

People of PRI: Kirtika Kohli, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Postdoctoral researcher Kirtika Kohli wears the required cloth face covering and personal protective equipment while working in the lab at ISTC.
Postdoctoral researcher Kirtika Kohli wears the required cloth face covering and personal protective equipment while working in the lab at ISTC.

This post originally appeared on the People of PRI blog.

ISTC postdoctoral researcher Kirtika Kohli is working on a project led by B.K. Sharma to develop novel catalysts for making chemicals from CO2. As the state of Illinois has entered phase 4 of COVID recovery, Kohli has been able to return to work in the lab while observing appropriate precautions, including wearing a face mask and following designated one-way paths while entering, leaving, and moving about the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center facility.

Only a single person works in the lab at a time, but Kohli says “Still I feel I need to be very careful, not for me only but for others, too.”

Q. What precautions and safety procedures are you employing to reduce risk while working in the lab? 

When I enter the lab, I follow the standard lab safety procedures, including putting on a lab coat, a pair of gloves, and eye googles (to protect my eyes). I also disinfect all the lab surfaces, such as benchtops, fume hood, reactor surfaces, etc.

After I am done with my work in the lab, I clean the lab space and eye goggles with disinfectant, discard the gloves in a trash bag, remove my lab coat, and wash my hands with soap at least two times. As I am leaving the facility, I pass multiple disinfecting stations, so I make sure to use hand sanitizer each time.

As a researcher, our minds are often thinking about experiments, so the posted signs that explain the guidelines about room occupancy, restroom use, social distancing, etc. are good to remind us.

Following a single path to enter and a single path to exit the facility sometimes gives you a smile, like you are playing some game in which you need to follow red big signs!

Q. Are there new challenges that arise because of these precautions?

Wearing a mask all the time—sometimes it feels OK and sometimes it is irritating. The major challenge is to speak loudly while wearing a mask when you are in a conference call.

People of PRI: Angela DiAscro, field chemist

Field chemist Angie DiAscro wears a mask while performing titrations with her travel kit during a site visit.
Field chemist Angie DiAscro wears a mask while performing titrations with her travel kit during a site visit.

This post originally appeared on the People of PRI blog.

Angela DiAscro is a field chemist with the Institutional Water Treatment program, which provides water treatment advice to facilities with institutional water systems including cooling towers, chillers, boilers, etc. Like many people, she spent a large part of the spring working from home but has recently been able to resume field activities, while observing proper COVID-19 precautions.

Q. What is your role with the Institutional Water Treatment program? 

I am a field chemist who travels throughout Illinois to sites, where I test boiler, cooling, softener water, etc. to make sure the systems have appropriate treatment levels. This helps the systems run more efficiently and have a longer lifespan. I often go to state police sites, correctional centers, veterans homes, some universities, and historical sites.

Q. Now that the state of Illinois has entered phase 4 of its COVID recovery plan and you’re back in the field, what precautions and safety procedures are you employing to reduce risk? 

There are three of us who travel and each of us are, of course, wearing masks when we are at a site. We often interact with engineers at least part of the time we are on site and it is nice to see that many of the engineers are wearing masks, too.

Each of us have our own rental vehicles to travel and instead of renting them daily or weekly as we did previously, we rent them for a whole month to cut back on the number of different cars we interact with. We are currently training our newest field chemist, so instead of riding in the same car to sites, now he has to arrive in his own rental car and we do our best to stay 6 feet apart while we are at the site together.

We were not encouraged to stay in hotels when we started travelling again, either. Before the pandemic I would stay in one to two hotels a week for work, but now we are mostly doing day trips. Currently we have received the okay to stay in large chain hotels as long as we take disinfectant wipes/ sprays with us.

I keep hand sanitizer in the rental car and use it whenever I stop for food or gas. Before I leave a site, I wash my hands with soap and water for 20 seconds if it is available. I also try to use my own pen whenever I need to sign in or out at certain sites.

The bottom line though, is that we don’t need to do anything that we are not comfortable with (e.g. stay in a hotel, go to sites in high COVID areas), which I really appreciate.

Angie and her colleague Cameron observe appropriate precautions by using separate vehicles to travel to a site visit at Dickson Mounds State Museum.
Angie and her colleague Cameron observe appropriate precautions by using separate vehicles to travel to a site visit at Dickson Mounds State Museum.

Q. What new challenges do these unusual times and new precautions create? 

Since we drive individual cars now and aren’t staying in hotels as often, I have had several 12+ hour days. My farthest site is ~3.5 hours away, in southern Illinois, so to do that in one day is already seven hours of travel. Without someone else in the car with you, it gets very tiring.

Many of the places we go do not have air conditioning and there is extra heat given off by the boiler or other systems present in the same room, so it can get above 95 degrees F. Now that I wear a mask while performing the site visit, I make sure I have water, a decent lunch, and hopefully a place to sit to take extra breaks while enduring the heat. Besides the heat, wearing a mask can be challenging because people can’t hear me, so I need to speak up.

Also, people can’t tell when I am smiling but hopefully they can see it from my eyes because I usually am!

Q. Is there anything else you’d like the institutions and people you work with to know? 

I miss seeing a lot of people and it is harder to get simple questions answered or papers signed since I can’t just walk to someone’s office, but I’m glad people are taking this seriously and doing what we can to keep ourselves and others safe.