MB&B faculty discuss the future of hybrid research training in Nature article

March 28, 2022

An article published in Nature this month features interviews with two MB&B faculty members, Mark Gerstein and Karla Neugebauer. The author of the article, Kendall Powell, argues that precautions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will permanently change the way many research groups and graduate and postdoctoral training programs operate. Neugebauer and Gerstein, along with PIs from around the world, share their experiences with shifting to hybrid (virtual and in-person) research and their perspectives on the future of hybrid work in research laboratories.

The article identifies several important elements of a research lab that remote work has impacted, including mentorship, training, research productivity, and collaborations. Flexible work environments can enable greater inclusivity in research groups and help early-career scientists to build research careers in a way that fits in with other personal responsibilities. However, many mentoring and career development activities benefit from in-person connections and serendipitous encounters with colleagues. This is one of many tradeoffs between virtual and in-person work described in the article.

Neugebauer and Gerstein each describe which in-person activities they’re eager to return to, and which COVID-19 related practices they plan to keep in place. The PIs interviewed in the article and their research groups have adapted to remote work in different ways, but most are in agreement that some aspects of virtual research – for example collaborations, training, or conferences – are here to stay.

The full Career Feature article in Nature can be found here: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-022-00729-9

By Melanie Reschke