By Stephen Gray
It goes without saying that we find ourselves in challenging and uncertain times. One silver lining is that in some ways CLEX enters this period of change as a centre that already spans five Australian universities and several partners in Australia and around the world. We are therefore pretty accustomed to working as part of a networked, virtual community, all contributing the Centre’s ambitious research goals. Videoconferencing was already ‘business as usual’ for many of our meetings, both scheduled and ad-hoc. In fact, it’s been illustrative to join meetings with other colleagues outside of CLEX, some of whom are on a videoconference for the very first time and just learning the ropes, not always elegantly!  

Beyond grappling with virtual communication technology, many of us are facing completely new sets of challenges at this time. Each person’s circumstances are unique, and everyone’s responses and coping mechanisms will be deeply personal. It’s for that reason CLEX has been cautious to avoid adding yet another layer of blanket daily advice to your already crowded inboxes. Instead, we see the greatest benefit to be gained from maintaining meaningful ties at a smaller scale: among research groups; one-on-one between supervisors and students and postdocs and among peers and friends within the centre.

Please chat to your colleagues, look out for each other to keep the micro-level connections alive that cumulatively feed into the wonderful, complex web that holds CLEX together and makes it a remarkable workplace. Of course, stay connected to your networks outside of CLEX too.

As an aside, in case there’s anyone else in the Centre with a bit of a social science penchant (perhaps I’m the unique black sheep amongst all you earth scientists, mathematicians, physicists and data scientists) this notion of nourishing the whole by ensuring small-scale connections remain strong is based on my stalled doctoral explorations of Actor Network Theory. If you’re looking for an insomnia cure, the Wikipedia page is as good a place as any to begin your journey down this esoteric rabbit hole.

Most importantly, at this time be compassionate to yourself and others. It’s a time for prioritising your health and that of those around you and being realistic about what that means in terms of your life-work balance. If the work part of that balance is causing you particular stress, please get in touch with me, Melissa or anyone else among the centre leadership you feel comfortable talking to. Where we have the capacity to solve things we will. If it’s beyond our scope, we’ll do our best to assist connecting you to those who can help.