Tyndall Researcher Dr Huihui Lu shares her motivation for volunteering during the Covid pandemic and her advice for other researchers seeking to support the efforts of those on the frontline.
1. Tell us about your volunteer experience during COVID-19?
On March 20th I received an email from Barry O’Brien (head of UCC HR) calling for volunteers to help support the COVID-19 service. Although I am not medical staff, I have previous experience developing diagnostic kits for hospitals. I thought my relevant skills would be of use to the over stretched service, so I expressed my interest. Currently I am on call for the clinical laboratory - should they ever require my services they will contact me immediately.
2. Who or what inspired / motivated you to volunteer
Everyone’s lives have changed dramatically during these unprecedented times. The fight against COVID-19 will be long and tough, and the only way we can succeed is if we work together and contribute what we can. In my previous role involved I learned many of the skills required to carry out testing procedures. Part of what inspired me to pursue a research career in the first place was my desire to make a positive impact on people’s lives, so naturally I wanted to use my skills to help support the efforts of those on the frontline.
3. How has your research career shaped this recent decision?
My research career began in Ireland, where I worked in a medical device company developing diagnostic devices for bed-side monitoring. The technique I used is highly related to the COVID-19 “paper-based” screening test. My recent projects involved collaborating with Cork University Hospital and Mercy Hospital which gave me first-hand experience working with frontline workers. I felt a responsibility to use my experience for the benefit of the larger community, which ultimately led to my decision to volunteer.
4. What is your advice for others who are considering volunteering? How can they get involved?
It’s amazing to see that so many people are willing to help out. Obviously during these challenging times it is most important to look after your own health and wellbeing first - only then can you go and help others! There are lots of ways you can get involved, whether that’s grocery shopping for an elderly neighbour, sending an encouraging message to someone vulnerable or even simply checking in on a friend. Volunteer Ireland has plenty more roles so if you are interested in volunteering I suggest you check them out.
5. These are challenging times Huihui, how are you and your family?
Initially it was a bit of a shock to the system - it’s been quite a while since the whole family has been together! However, we are slowly adjusting to a ‘new normal’, settling into a routine and trying to separate work and downtime. The daily figures on the news is worrying, but we’re doing our best to stay positive. One thing I have realised is how grateful I am for the little things in life - my family, my health and especially having enough toilet paper!