• Question: How has Covid 19 influenced your outreach of investigation of international species the project aims to sequence?

    Asked by NicoleM on 8 Jun 2021.
    • Photo: Sophie Potter

      Sophie Potter answered on 8 Jun 2021:


      Hi- the Darwin Tree of Life project is specifically looking at species found in Britain and Ireland, so we don’t do very much international sample collection for this project (though we do also have partner projects elsewhere looking at international species!). Covid 19 did set us back a bit with the UK species as we weren’t able to collect nearly as many samples last spring due to the lockdown, and our sequencing centre at Sanger was working on emergency Covid sequencing. We’re now catching back up, though we still have to be careful about the number of people we have in labs, and how we run collection trips.

    • Photo: Jack Monaghan

      Jack Monaghan answered on 9 Jun 2021:


      Hi Nicole,
      As Sophie says most on Darwin Tree of Life our collection work is based in the UK/Ireland, so while we didn’t have the problem of crossing borders to find species, lockdown did mean we couldn’t travel around locally as much as we had planned. This meant some of our scientists finding species in their garden instead of going on trips to other parts of the UK for instance.
      We are part of an international project though, called the Earth Biogenome project, that brings together lots of different projects like ours from around the world. While scientists have not been able to visit each other or meet up over the last year, they’ve all got a lot better at connecting over the internet which will be really helpful for sharing ideas on this global project.

    • Photo: Sam Rowe

      Sam Rowe answered on 30 Jun 2021:


      I work more on the education and engagement side of things (rather than collection and sequencing of samples in the lab) but our work has definitely been affected by covid/pandemic. Mostly it’s been a shift to online events and activities, so focusing on things like social media posts, written articles, live-streamed videos on YouTube, webinars etc. I quite like virtual events because we can potentially reach more people and I think it’s great when events are recorded and posted online so people can see what’s going on even if they couldn’t attend the original live show. However, I also really miss the buzz of in-person events with easier conversations and lots of hands-on experiments – can’t wait for it to be safe enough to put on events like that again! 🙂

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