Meet the WinRS: Angela K. Odle, PhD
Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
What is your background/current position and what does it entail?
I am an Assistant Professor in a basic science department. My work is focused on the metabolic regulation of gonadotropes, specifically focusing on the impact of leptin on female reproduction. I am a part of a collaborative group of researchers and am currently working to get my lab up and running.
What impact has being quarantined had on your daily activities and position?
Everything has changed. I have a family at home, including a husband and two children. I am EXTREMELY privileged to be able to do the majority of my job from home at this time. No single day has been the same as another. We have had to learn to be flexible with our time and be PATIENT. I have learned a great deal about what it means to be a good communicator via email. I’ve also learned the value of dedicated work time and time in the lab, as we are currently minimizing our presence on campus to allow for proper social distancing. I miss my quiet office!
What strategies have you adopted in order to create a new "normal" for your daily activities and position?
I have weekly Zoom meetings with the student and technician that I work most closely with. This allows us to touch base and get a list of “needs” and “wants” for the following week. It also allows us to talk about how we are doing with the quarantine and see some familiar faces. My husband and I trade off intensive work hours. I may handle the kids while firing off emails and making figures for manuscripts while he is able to focus on a difficult project, and then we switch so I can get some reading/writing done. Of course, this means our work hours can be unusual, but it is worth it.
Have you gained any valuable lessons from being in quarantine?
I’ve learned the value of fresh air and a quiet workspace. I’ve also learned that the micro-interactions I have with people in my building on a daily basis really do enrich my life. I never thought I’d miss the small talk so much.
What expectations have you had to let go or remove from your daily activities and position?
I like to talk to people face-to-face and give/receive information in person and see things for myself. I have learned to delegate and let other people be my eyes and ears in the lab. Since our lab members are rarely all on campus at the same time, we are constantly sending each other updates and relying on this information for our work.
How have you stayed connected with friends and family during this time?
We are lucky that our good friends live very close (some even right across the street!), so we have had many “socially-distanced” chats on the sidewalk in front of our house. We’ve also played games over ZOOM and had PLENTY of FaceTime chats.
What will you do differently once you return to your position?
I’m learning to be more efficient with my time. Now that my quiet times are so limited, I know how to use them to the best of my ability.
What are you most excited to do once the pandemic has cleared?
I am eager to travel again! I live in “The Natural State” and have enjoyed our city and state parks, but I’m ready for some fresh scenery.
How has being a woman in science affected your experiences and/or position during quarantine?
I had a baby on the day our governor announced that our state would shut down schools (at the time for two weeks) due to COVID-19. So, I feel like the whole world went on maternity leave with me. When my maternity leave was ending (around 6 weeks), I realized I wasn’t really “going back to work” in the way I had envisioned. I was returning to work from home with the rest of my family home too.
As the numbers of positive cases in our state continue to rise, I feel torn about sending my kids to summer programs, even though it would make life much easier. These are the difficult decisions that so many working mothers and fathers are facing right now. My husband and I recognize that it is a privilege to be able to work from home and have the choice of sending our children to school or not.
What words of inspiration would you like to share to other women in science and the future generation of women in science?
Don’t put off having a family for your work if that is what you want- I don’t know that there is a “perfect” time to start your life. With the right support from your employer and the people in your life, you really can have it all (even if it looks a little different than you thought it would).