Meet the WinRs: Rebecca Krisher, PhD

Research Director at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine

What is your background/current position and what does it entail?

My current position is Research Director at CCRM, a human infertility clinic with a strong research program history. I came up through Animal Sciences in academia, and was a faculty member for 12 years before leaving my academic position and joining CCRM. I still run a research lab and do basic research, but now I also do more applied translational work as well.

What impact has being quarantined had on your daily activities and position?

A lot. It has been very different in a non-academic position. Myself and my team were placed on partial furlough early on, as fertility clinics shut down due to the pandemic. We just focused on keeping the tanks filled and freezers checked for a while. Now we are back a little more, half time in shifts, so it has been a real adjustment to try to coordinate what research we can do remotely. Rather than trying to have everyone do a little bit of their own research every other week, we have started a couple of SARS-CoV-2 related projects that we can do as a team, so we can keep that work going across the two shifts and have a common goal. 

What strategies have you adopted in order to create a new "normal" for your daily activities and position?

I think it’s been a struggle to keep in touch with my lab members, since they are not here every day and I am not always here when they are here. And hard to keep up with their progress, celebrate their accomplishments, make any needed adjustments, etc. We moved our bi-weekly meetings to zoom, and we use Slack prolifically to communicate. I’m a big fan!

Have you gained any valuable lessons from being in quarantine?

It has reminded me how important it is to tell people that I do science with how valuable they are!  It’s been such a hard time with so much uncertainty, I think everyone needs to hear that they are appreciated!

What expectations have you had to let go or remove from your daily activities and position?

Well I try not to micromanage anyway, but that is completely out the window!  I have had to prioritize my responsibilities and commitments. Since I am not getting paid full time, I have had to separate more than before my ‘service’ responsibilities from my direct work responsibilities, and do those on my own time. It has been difficult, because science hasn’t stopped but my job has been really cut back. I think it brings home how much science is a lifestyle, not just a job. For better or worse.

How have you stayed connected with friends and family during this time?

Yes, by phone and zoom. Extended family zoom calls have been a fun addition!

What will you do differently once you return to your position?

I will appreciate every paycheck more and keep my personal budget balanced! But in all seriousness, I will just be glad to have all of my team back together again. I miss them a lot!  It feels like our work family is fractured.

What are you most excited to do once the pandemic has cleared?

I am lucky in that I could find placed to go near my home to hike in the mountains, which is my primary stress reliever. But, I am excited to be able to range a little further afield!

How has being a woman in science affected your experiences and/or position during quarantine?

I have tried to be sensitive the needs of the people working in my lab group, and I have tried to be as flexible as my company will allow me to be. Each person on my team, male or female, has their own personal and/or family stressors at this time. There is a lot going on, from canceled classes, childcare responsibility shifts, illness, even personal preferences. I know this time has been financially and emotionally straining, so I am trying to make it just a little bit easier. I don’t think that is exclusive to women PIs.

What words of inspiration would you like to share to other women in science and the future generation of women in science?

Take care of yourself, find something that you can do to relieve your stress. Be confident in yourself! Don’t get too upset if things don’t work out as planned, sometimes detours lead to exciting opportunities that you may not have otherwise noticed.