PhD in Lockdown – view from Taco Regensburg

I am Taco Regensburg, a 34 year old Dutchman. My PhD project focuses on the hydrological connectivity between subsurface drainage networks (soil pipes) and streams in a heavily degraded blanket peat. My supervisors are water@leeds Professors Joe Holden and Pippa Chapman. 

Over the past six month I have split my time between sample / data collection in the field, water sample analyses, and writing up. As part of the move to working remotely in response to COVID-19 outbreak I have installed myself in my room, knowing that currently I cannot analyse any water samples nor finish the remainder of fieldwork.

The last week I have been in self-isolation, due to speculation about flatmates being sent home from work after showing symptoms of COVID-19. It took about a week for me to overcome the sudden change in work environment, as now my little room has become full time office, bedroom, living room and sport facility. On top of that, I share a flat with flatmates of different cultures and backgrounds, and I noticed that finding a balance to deal with all their new-born anxieties in response to self-isolation can be quite challenging.

It gives a feel of family in a time we need to keep our physical distance

To keep up my spirits, I volunteered to co-moderate the School of Geography’s SoG: Together, in Isolation Twitter account created to maintain our close connections in the School of Geography. It is a nice way to get to know how your colleagues through their pets, favourite mugs, cooking experiments and geography kitsch, and how they are dealing with this new home-work situation. It gives a feel of family in a time we need to keep our physical distance.

Furthermore, to steer my work-related processes, I try to stay in contact with close colleagues on daily basis via the Faculty MS Teams. Supervisory support seems to return to normal, but just online. Old friend groups have restarted chat groups to make sure nobody is left out, and we keep in contact via WhatsApp and Facebook. To experience how other PhD students are coping with working from home, I became member of the NEPG chat group at Slack.com, a platform that brings PhD students together from all over the UK.

Taco Regensburg, School of Geography, April 2020

Commissioned for the monthly water@leeds newsletter. If you have items you wish to contribute please contact A.M.Boyle@leeds.ac.uk.