The Coronavirus has particularly impacted academic research
A collective letter has been sent to Minister Ingrid van Engelhoven (D66) of education from a number of researchers, asking for around 350 million euros in support. The amount would be used to support the most vulnerable researchers, says Professor of Nedersaxon/Groninger language and culture Martijn Wieling. As reported by RTV Noord.
“Then you can cover PhD’s that are busy with their promotion trajectory, but also post-docs and other researchers that are on temporary contracts that are due to end. That group have been seriously affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.”
Wieling himself have seen how three of his own PhD candidates have been affected by the outbreak. “One is currently in Australia at the end of his project, in order to work on a draft of his thesis. Because Australia went into lockdown, he has to work from home, with significantly fewer resources. He already had an issue with his shoulder, that’s been made worse through his working situation. He is going to be a few months late with his research, and must therefore support himself during that time, without any compensation.”
Other PhD’s research is being compromised as it required human contact. “We have one PhD that is looking at tongue movements in patients that are suffering from Parkinson’s. To do this they need to put special sensors on patients’ tongues; often vulnerable people too. Naturally, this absolutely cannot go ahead at the moment. If this situations continues for another half a year, the entire project will have to be trashed”, said Wieling.
The UMCG has also suffered during the outbreak. Laboratories had to be shuttered during the outbreak, and only re-opened on June 1. They are now operating on a rota system to stop too many people gathering in the labs at once. “Some projects have sat still for three months, and will take some time to get back going again”, said UMCG spokesperson Joost Wessels.
“We have to be aware of the vulnerable position of researchers”, says Wieling, “if we don’t do anything for them, some will have to leave academia, and at a time when we’re really leaning on that. It could mean a ‘lost generation’, so therefore our suggestion is that we don’t forget out researchers.”