The view from New Haven: In conversation with Tayah Turocy

Monday, May 4, 2020

West Campus Graduate Student Tayah Turocy shared her insights into what it’s been like to move from her lab at West Campus to a remote workspace. A second year student in the Chemical Biology Institute, Tayah is a member of Jason Crawford’s lab, where her research exploits microbiota metabolism to reprogram host-bacteria interactions concerning colorectal cancer. She’s also one of two Graduate Student Life Fellows at West Campus who organizes social events for the campus community in partnership with the McDougal Graduate Student Center.

Q: How are you getting along with moving your work remotely? How has it changed how you interact with your research team?

Ans: The Crawford lab has been communicating over zoom and through a messaging app called slack, but it isn’t the same as being together every day. We use zoom for our group meetings and slack messaging for group conversations, sending funny photos, and setting up game nights. Before social distancing, I could quickly ask my lab-mates questions and seek advice on experimental setups and findings as well as talk about daily life with them. My lab-mates are my favorite part of graduate school, and quarantine has really cemented the value of being able to interact with them face to face. My work has transitioned from benchtop experiments to deep literature studies, experimental design, and qualification exam preparation. I’m getting a better grasp of fundamental chemical biology concepts, which is valuable coming from my engineering background. Having allotted time at home devoted to reading, designing, and studying will benefit my scientific communication and experimental skills.

Q: Tell us about some of the non-work activities you’ve been engaging in. 

Ans: I’ve been doing a lot of creative activities including crafting and baking. I’ve painted canvases, embroidered, and am doing clothing flips, as well as baking pumpkin and banana bread and trying new dinner recipes. I’m doing lots of exercise at home, reading, and keeping in touch with friends. As a McDougal fellow, we’ve been experimenting with virtual events. Sarah and I, the West Campus McDougal fellows, held a fun virtual drawing event in which Sarah lead a short drawing session via zoom.

Q: Share an example of how you are keeping in touch with people.

Ans: I’ve been calling and zooming a lot of my friends and family. We’re held zoom game nights to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. We start with a zoom call and then transition to online gaming sites like netgames and jackboxTV. Codenames and quiplash have been my favorite so far, and the ease of multi-person video calls and screen share on zoom has made game nights a breeze. I send a lot of voice messages to my friends back home so that they can listen and respond whenever they have time. It’s a great way to communicate because we don’t need to be available at the same time and my friends can listen to messages multiple times before responding. Since everyone’s schedules are different working at home, voice messages are a flexible solution to communicating.

Q: What’s the view from your new workspace window?

Ans: Here’s the awesome view from my downtown apartment!

Q: What’s the one thing you look forward to when we return to West Campus?

Ans: I miss talking and laughing with my amazing lab mates about all our crazy lives.