Caregiver Testimonial 5

From Thomas Giachetti, earth sciences


I am a male TTF faculty in the Earth Sciences. I started in September 2015 and should submit my tenure application in Spring 2021. 

Since mid March 2020, I am at home with my wife who is a full time employee at Penn State University on a NSF-funded program, working remotely as a courtesy faculty at UO. We live with our three-year-old son. We have no daycare since mid March and no family with us in the US to help us in any way. We therefore take turns in taking care of our child. We first thought that the time dedicated to our job would simply be divided by two, which was already a hard hit. However, we quickly learned that there was a huge difference between working in a work environment and at home, both in terms of time and mental focus. Altogether, I evaluate my productivity has be decreased by about 70%. I was one of the lucky ones who did not have to teach in the Spring. Nevertheless, I was counting a lot on spring term and the beginning of summer to make a lot of progress on two proposals and two papers, among other things (e.g., advising of three grad students who were counting on access to our laboratory to make progress on their research projects). One proposal has been postponed to the Fall at least (UO I3 award). The other one is the NSF CAREER that has a deadline at the end of July. Given the time, energy, and brain commitment this proposal requires according to NSF workshops I attended but also in discussions with colleagues who recently were awarded a CAREER, I had to realize that it won’t be possible for me to think about and write such proposal this year. Beyond the scientific deception (I was really looking forward to put in writing my big idea for the next 10 years or so), this decision divides my chances to be awarded a CAREER by 33%, since I’ll have only two more chances in 2021 and 2022. Also, this summer, I will have to completely restructure my 80-student class for the Fall as I will give it online. 

I know we all live in very uncertain times and there are many things we cannot control and still have to somewhat live from day to day. Our current major source of uncertainty is our daycare, Vivian Olum. While many daycares have started to reopen in Eugene and throughout Oregon (even with limited number of children per class and lots of organizational constraints), our daycare seems to be at least three weeks late compared to the other ones in even discussing about reopening and surveying families to assess what concessions they would be ready to make. That prevents us from making any decisions concerning hiring somebody medium/long term to care for our son, taking a few days off to clear our mind outside of Eugene, or even flying back to our home country where we could receive help for the whole summer should daycare stay closed until the fall… What if daycare suddenly reopens and we are not in Eugene and lose our very precious spot for the next academic year? Is it a risk we can afford to take? What if daycare reopens but with limited capacity and we are not one of the families that have a spot there? If only we knew, we could plan our lives accordingly for the next few months. This uncertainty is the hardest for me and most of the time prevents me from diving into my work in focused manner, strongly limiting my progress.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share our the COVID situation has impacted my academic and private life.

Thomas Giachetti
Department of Earth Sciences

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