By Kate Hunger
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges to researchers trying to maintain the momentum of their work. Communication Sciences and Disorders Assistant Professor Rocío Norman, PhD, CCC-SLP, who researches mild traumatic brain injury, experienced this when the COVID-19 protocols meant her lab had to shut down for at least six months.
Dr. Norman, a KL2 scholar, served as the KL2 representative for UT Health San Antonio at the 2021 Virtual Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program Annual Meeting, which focused on the obstacles researchers have faced as a result of COVID-19 and how they managed to pursue their objectives and the mission of the CTSA program despite the pandemic. Some researchers, including Dr. Norman, used electronic surveys when in-person interactions were not permitted. She is currently continuing to set up her lab and collect data.
“It was a good experience to know what the people in the other CTSAs are doing and to get caught up on the research coming out of the CTSAs,” Dr. Norman said of the Dec. 1–3 meeting. “It was nice to get the pulse of what’s going on.”
The conference emphasized the importance of wellness for researchers and included breathing and movement exercises, she said.
“This is the first conference where there was a big focus on not just the work, the product, but also on how we are coping,” Dr. Norman said.
Fifty medical research institutions have CTSA program funding and the meeting was well attended by a wide range of researchers, she said.