Last time I wrote we were in lockdown. Now, we find ourselves back in a second national lockdown. The pandemic, sadly, continues, with our disease scientists continuing to conduct important research that improves our understanding of the virus and its dynamics. Under the current circumstances, we have restarted some work in our laboratories, UK-based fieldwork, and a very limited amount of overseas fieldwork. In addition, our undergraduate students have returned to Oxford and we are doing a mix of online and face-to-face teaching.
The in-person teaching includes skills training in our teaching laboratory, some tutorials, and fieldwork in University Parks, at Wytham, and in the Botanic Gardens. We spent a huge amount of effort over the summer to ensure we could deliver this teaching in a Covid-safe environment, and the first face-to-face teaching has worked extremely well. This has been achieved by fantastic collaboration between our faculty and our admin and support staff, all who have been amazing. We have had a limited number of cases in our students and staff since term started, but we hopeful that the measures we have put in place will help reduce the likelihood of cases rapidly increasing.
Although the pandemic has slowed our lab-based research, a number of experiments are now up and running under covid-safe conditions, and graduate students are being trained. We are now used to running seminars and training courses online. I am really impressed how flexible our faculty, staff and students are, and how up-beat most have remained.
The Tinbergen building has now been demolished, with the corner of South Parks Road and Long Wall Street looking very different. Planning permission is being sought for the new Life and Mind Building, and we look forward to construction starting in 2021. The designs show a modern, state-of-the art building designed for a 21st century biology department, where, along with our colleagues in experimental psychology we will work to tackle pressing global challenges in a number of inter-disciplinary hubs. The shape and structure of a number of these hubs is being firmed up, and we look forward to describing these exciting initiatives in detail in future newsletters.
I hope that by the time I write the end of the pandemic will be in sight, and life will be returning to normal. In the mean time, stay safe.
With best wishes,
Professor Tim Coulson
Joint-Head of Department