Though the Department of Biochemistry maintained a limited in-person presence throughout the pandemic, the environment couldn’t compare to our normally bustling campus and the ability to offer our students a full educational experience. Today I asked Alan Diehl, Department of Biochemistry chair and deputy director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, to share his perspective about the campus fully reopening. A few of his biochemistry staff and students wanted to share their excitement about being back in person as well!
Last year was hard. It was hard to teach, hard to work, hard to maintain our labs, and—most significantly—hard on our students. We’re still a long way from “normal,” but the Department of Biochemistry is excited to be fully back on campus.
As we kick off the new academic year, I am hearing from our faculty, staff and students what a difference it makes to be together; it’s clear this is where we want to be. In-person interactions are more efficient and rewarding, we’re able to address things more quickly and, as helpful as it has been, I think we all have a bit of Zoom fatigue. In a word, Yay!
We are excited to have our classrooms, labs and hallways full of students, and are thrilled to welcome nearly 25 new master's students—twice as many as last year’s cohort—to the program. Our undergraduate program is one of the most popular at the university, and it will be so beneficial to have them fully in-person. Two officers from the CWRU Undergraduate Biochemistry Society (CUBS) are particularly excited to be on campus.
“After spending the past year online, it will be refreshing to collaborate with my teachers and classmates and enjoy all the wonderful resources our campus has to offer,” CUBS President and fourth-year biochemistry/psychology major Hailey Seibert shared.
Third-year biochemistry major Rachel Theisen, who is director of the CWRU Film Society in addition to serving as the CUBS vice president, is looking forward to all of the opportunities available this year.
“Returning to in-person learning and being able to fully access campus facilities like labs and classrooms has definitely made a positive impact on my life as a biochemistry major,” she said.
Our staff members are also happy to be back.
“Coming back to campus gives one a sense of relief and belonging because you know that students and faculty have a common goal for learning and research. This constant is a comfort and being with people again we can act on our thoughts and ideas together,” said Director of Administrative Operations Meetha Gould. “I'm looking forward to being able to rebuild and help faculty and students in person again.”
In addition to the excitement, we of course have concerns, and I’m sure some of you do as well. Are the rooms large enough to accommodate distancing? Will everyone follow the safety protocols? And, how bad will things get with the delta variant?
I have been impressed with the thoughtful, cautious way the university has approached the pandemic but I know it’s hard for some to return to campus. Personally, I feel safer in our campus “bubble” than anywhere outside of my home. Our vaccination rates are extremely high, we’re taking the necessary precautions and, if everyone considers the welfare of others, we’ll keep each other safe.
It’s apparent the university has always had the best interest of our community at heart and it’s hard to do better than that.
We look forward to seeing everyone in the Wood Building and across campus,
J. Alan Diehl, Ph.D.
Leonard and Jean Skeggs Professor; Chair, Department of Biochemistry
Deputy Director and COO, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center
Case Western Reserve University