Working from Home

Richard Buckley has worked in various states of solitude during his decades as the director of the Plant Diagnostic Lab and Nematode Detection Service at Rutgers University. Turn on some Grateful Dead and tune out the rest of the world.

Since the university shut down its physical campuses earlier this month, though, he has worked in total solitude, studying submitted samples in a satellite lab he set up in his extra bedroom.

Yes, his extra bedroom.

Buckley and his assistant, Sabrina Tirpak, worked around various restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 1, but they were still permitted on campus until April 10. After that, “we were kicked out,” Buckley says. “They closed down all the research, everybody. No one could come on campus unless you had something critical.”

Buckley and Tirpak discussed applying for an agronomy exemption, “but both of my bosses up the chain are plant virologists and they were, like, ‘No way,’” Buckley says. “They’re concerned about the whole situation.”

Their best option, like so many other Americans, was to just work from home.

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