Connection Despite Distance

Jacoby Blog NRES


The past couple weeks have brought sudden change to Purdue’s campus. Students just completed their first week of “e-learning” due to COVID-19. For the rest of the semester, I will be accessing my classes 100% online, from my hometown in northern Wisconsin. Though suspending campus-life in the middle of the semester has been a difficult adjustment, the Purdue community has been creating ways to remain strong and connected even while apart.

The most impactful way that I am continuing my engagement with the Purdue community is through my involvement with the Purdue World Water Day Planning Committee, which is led by NRES Director, Dr. Bowling, and ABE professor, Dr. McMillan. During the first half of the semester, we worked on planning a series of events to honor UN World Water Day – a yearly international celebration of freshwater. However, in order to comply with social distancing requirements, we had to come up with an alternative that could administer the same information virtually. Our team’s creative solution was to produce a podcast, titled “Purdue Water and Climate Expert Series”, featuring conversations with Purdue professors who study issues at the intersection of water and climate change.

Over the past two weeks, we have been busy adapting our plan to this new format. I’ve helped produce promotional materials for social media, set up interview logistics, and generated questions to ask the Purdue experts. Yesterday, Grace Filley (undergraduate in ABE) and I spent the day co-moderating conversations with Purdue professors over video calls. This project is turning out to be one of my most unique Purdue experiences, and it has pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and improve my scientific communication skills. Additionally, as a student in NRES with a concentration in Water Quality, these conversations have been invaluable in learning about the complexity of water and climate issues in a wide variety of sectors, such as agriculture, engineering, and social sciences.

It is very inspiring to see the Purdue experts’ dedication to their research and to work on a team that is dedicated to making the most out of an unpredictable situation. We are excited to release our first podcast episode in just a couple days and hope that sharing this knowledge will further conversations about important water issues and help bring the Purdue community together.


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