Talking Chemistry in the time of COVID-19

Lena Trotochaud on Zoom during COVID-19

Although a visit to the Duke University Center for WaSH-AID was not in the cards, researcher Lena Trotochaud, Ph.D., recently found a way to share her expertise with a group of more than 40 curious high school students from Westhill High School in Syracuse, New York.

Through Skype-a-Scientist, a program that connects teachers and students with scientists worldwide, Trotochaud spent an hour in late April talking to students about her current and past research projects, her favorite parts of building a career in science, and what life is like day-to-day in the lab where she undertakes research on wastewater and nutrient recovery.

Skype-a-Scientist, run by squid biologist Sarah McAnulty and her team, has been linking students and scientists since 2017.  Students request a scientist in an area of interest and the program connects them with a researcher who is eager to share their experience and expertise. With so many children out of school and at home because of the coronavirus, the program has even expanded to include opportunities for families to request a conversation with one of the more than 5,000 scientists in their database.

“Skype-a-Scientist made a great match,” says Trotochaud. “The whole process was smooth and easy to navigate. It was such a pleasure to visit with Angela Gaige and her students – they had so many great questions and I had a blast answering them. This experience has definitely been the highlight of my time working-from-home so far!”