Welcome to 2022!

Dear College of Science Faculty and Staff,

Welcome to 2022! I hope you had some restoration and fun over the break. It was lovely family time at my home, with an elaborate gingerbread village, easel painting, fabulous food, and streaming. Always eager to patch up my history education, I completed watching Poldark (18th century Cornwall, copper and tin mining, abolition of slavery, war, romance, the wild ocean and a wonderful score by Anne Dudley). Then back to the 8th century and Vikings, on the History Channel. Very bloody, but fascinating, accurate-ish as records allow, and how contemporary was the clash of religions and cultures.

This time last year we had just been shocked by the attack on our Capitol by US citizens, by rising COVID rates, and encouraged by the beginning of COVID vaccinations. We’re in a better spot this year, for sure, although the Capitol attack is still under stultifying slow investigation. But in the College and at Northeastern, we’re all vaccinated and boosted. It’s a great year’s progress in that regard.

We are entering the Spring semester with uncertainty and challenge, as you know. In our powerful Northeastern pandemic tradition, we will be in person, and I’m optimistic that we will manage. Projections from our Network Science Institute led by Prof. Alessandro Vespignani indicate that the Omicron surge will peak by mid-January, which is good news for the rest of the semester. But some of you and your families will become infected, and some of your students. Please use high quality N95 or KN94/95 masks to help protect yourselves. How will you help absent students continue their learning, how will you cover your class or other work if you need to quarantine or are feeling ill? How can we encourage students who have lost so much opportunity for learning? All the while, please pay attention to your well-being. Running the semester is a huge responsibility, and the only way we’ll succeed is by working together and supporting one another. Further thoughts are below, and we’ll discuss this in our COS Community Meeting next week.

Carrying forward a vestige of the break, Secret Life of the Cruise is an engrossing exploration of how a massive ship is organized for each back-to-back cruise. It reminded me of how we organize our massive COS vessel, each unit having key expertise and function, each person in each unit uniquely valuable and respected. Take a look (on Amazon), I think you’ll be inspired at the parallels with our College of Science and Northeastern University. Welcome back!