"We ran a rapid call for COVID-19 research, giving people a week to submit their ideas – we had over 200 applications from all disciplines, right across the university. The speed of response meant we were able to make the first awards on 23rd March, the day the first lockdown started. Many of these have developed into much larger, government/charity funded projects, such as NHS-CHECK, which focuses on COVID-19’s effects on mental health in the NHS workforce.”
Speaking about any particular highlights, Tom points to the COVID Symptom Study, which uses data from the ZOE app. “It’s a great example of King’s response to the COVID-19 challenge - agile, but building on years of development and expertise. A similar approach was seen across the university, including for example The Policy Institute’s work on public opinion, or the recent findings by our cancer researchers about the interaction between blood cancer and the immune response to COVID-19, with implications for vaccination approaches.”
And for his own personal reflections over the last year, he takes some positives from the challenges we have faced. “I’ve noticed that many meetings are more inclusive, hearing more voices (including a colleague’s parrot!), as a result of the “hands up” and chat options on Teams. Many functions – including RMID – have done much more to bring everyone together, from weekly briefings to more informal meetings, and attendance at “optional” conferences and talks seems to have increased a lot. We’ve had to move two training programmes (Leading Researchers and Emerging Research Leaders) online, and to my surprise they still seem to work very well.
“I’ve also learnt about split digraphs, the bus stop method, The Iron Man by Ted Hughes and more, as a result of helping with home schooling – I found this surprisingly hard. Finally, I have realised that I can’t blame my commute for not having time to go for a run…”