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Covid-19 is destabilizing an entire generation of young scientists

The back of the head of a graduate wearing a cap, gown, and mask.
Reuters/Andrew Kelly
Uncertainty ahead.
  • Katherine Ellen Foley
By Katherine Ellen Foley

Health and science reporter


Samantha Calvez, an undergraduate junior at Rowan University in New Jersey, should have been at Saint Louis University in Missouri right about now.

Calvez, 21, planned to use the summer before her senior year to research acids found in the blood of people who are diabetic. Using a type of chemistry that separates liquids and gases into their molecular components, Calvez would chemically mark acid molecules to make them easier to detect. The goal is to one day be able to better analyze important trace components either in the environment or the body.

The work requires an instrument called a supercritical fluid chromatograph, or SFC for short. There are just a dozen or so in the US. But since the Covid-19 pandemic picked up steam in the US in March, Calvez has been at home in New Jersey. Her research is at a standstill. “I haven’t touched the instrument and haven’t been to Rowan since mid-March,” she says. If she were in St. Louis, she expects she and her team would be analyzing some of the collected data by now.

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