It may be that the more difficult task is to identify those among us who haven’t gone well beyond what is typically demanded.
Some have invented new ways, on the fly, to continue to meet day-to-day commitments. Some have quit jobs to care for children and to oversee their children’s schooling. Some have lost jobs—and found ways to serve their communities, despite their own economic stresses. And some have carried on while shouldering the grief of the sudden and unforeseen death of a loved one.
We’ve been collecting these stories for months. As of this writing, the cases of COVID-19 are surging in many parts of the world, including in the United States and in Rochester. Circumstances continue to change and are changing for many of the people featured here. What is certain is that most of them continue to find the demands of their work expanding exponentially—or they are continuing to volunteer to make it so.
There are many others we might have included. If you know of others in the University community who belong among this group, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Rochester Responds” in the subject line.
— Karen McCally ’02 (PhD)
Contributors: J. Adam Fenster, Jim Mandelaro, Bob Marcotte, Sara Miller, Kristine Thompson, and Lindsey Valich.
Angela Branche ’14M (Flw) and Ann Falsey ’66M (Res), codirectors of the Medical Center’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU), directed several vaccine trials in Rochester as part of Operation Warp Speed, a multiagency collaboration led by the US Department of Health and Human Services to safely accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and therapies. The vaccine efforts at Rochester included phase 3 trials, the final stage of development of a vaccine before FDA approval.
Branche (left) and Falsey have worked with community organizations to recruit clinical trial participants more representative of the population as a whole.Read More
When students headed home in March, twin sisters Destinee Bell ’21 and Deziree Bell ’21 did, too—only they kept coming back. Destinee, a biochemistry major, and Deziree, a neuroscience major, are from just outside Rochester. Throughout the spring and summer, they were among about 30 students who stayed on as staff of Wilson Commons Student Activities.
From March through the summer, Destinee (left) and Deziree commuted from their family home in nearby Gates, New York, to help fellow students who could not return home.Read More
As students faced quarantine on campus, staff members like Molly Morrison pitched in for a “collaborative effort to support our students.”
Mike Apostolakos ’90M (Res), ’93M (Flw) and Kathy Parrinello ’75N, ’83N (MS), ’90W (PhD) establish a command center to direct UR Medicine’s regional response to the pandemic.
Jamie Sokol ’05 helps implement emergency plans in western Pennsylvania.
Eric Fredericksen ’84S (MBA), ’09W (EdD), associate vice president for online learning, and Lisa Brown ’16W (EdD), assistant director of University IT, help faculty members adapt courses both on the fly and for the long haul.
Robert Minckley, senior lecturer in the Department of Biology, prepares to teach an online, in-person, socially distanced course in Lander Auditorium.Read More
In some ways, the story of the Medical Center’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been what hasn’t happened.Read More
Volunteering, mentoring, and helping connect students and alumni in their career paths take on new resonance in the pandemic.Read More
The Together for Rochester campaign responds to the University community’s desire to make a difference in the life of the institution and in the lives of students, faculty, staff, and alumni.Read More
University Trustee Naveen Nataraj ’97 establishes fundraising challenge to encourage new support.
Initiative delivers more than 100,000 masks to campus.
For faculty members and students alike, the pandemic has blurred the lines between work and home and between the professional and the private. During the spring 2020 semester, Molly Ball (pictured), a lecturer in the history department, and her husband, Pablo Sierra Silva, an assistant professor of history, found themselves juggling teaching schedules as well as schooling for their three children, aged 2, 5, and 8. The couple split their home into two zones—a downstairs home school and an upstairs “uni chauqita,” or “little university,” off limits to the kids, where Ball and Sierra Silva conducted their classes.
As COVID-19 spread around the world last spring, Justin Chaize, a registered nurse and a School of Nursing graduate student, made a split-second decision to travel to Guadalajara, Mexico, to deliver as much personal protective equipment (PPE) as he could to assist health care workers.Read More
Last March, when residential life staff were confronted with the necessity of moving close to 400 students in a single day, they weren’t sure just how it would be done. Don Libby was more confident. ‘I had done logistics in Iraq.’Read More
Jordan Ratzlaff ’20W (MS) tackles food insecurity on the University’s campuses.
Foodlink’s Mitch Gruber ’17 (PhD) oversees “regular, consistent, and touchless distribution of food” throughout the pandemic.
2020 has been a year unlike any other at the University of Rochester, but we adapted in unprecedented ways.
Social entrepreneurs and former classmates at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Nana Afoh-Manin ’07M (MD), Briana Southerland DeCuir ’03, ’07M (MD), and Joanne Moreau ’07M (MD) bring COVID-19 testing to under-resourced communities.Read More
What the NIH’s Anthony Fauci has been to the nation, Monroe County public health commissioner Mike Mendoza ’12S (MS)—or, @DrMikeMendoza on Twitter—has been to the Rochester area: a ubiquitous presence on TV and print news, radio, and social media; and the go-to person for the most reliable and up-to-date information and advice, based on the best available science, under relentlessly shifting circumstances.Read More
As graduation ceremonies moved online, the messages of perseverance and hard work in the face of challenge took on new meaning for the Class of 2020.Read More
Food service employees adapted to new protocols to protect themselves and the 750 College students who remained on campus last spring. “We often had to switch gears each day,” says Cameron Schauf, director of Campus Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations as safety protocols were updated and evolving restrictions required dining centers to move to takeout and grab-and-go options. Jayquan Coley, a cook’s helper, says it was “a bit lonesome,” adding “I’m used to a big crowd. That’s what gets us going.”Read More
Before students arrive for campus housing, a testing regimen is put in place.
As with all students who moved into campus housing in August, Kyle Christoff ’24 was tested for coronavirus before going to the residence halls.Read More
Residential Life leaders adjust student housing assignments during a time of “ever changing expectations and scenarios.”
Resident advisors distribute room keys and other housing information as students move on to campus.Read More
Starting last summer, many members of the University community got to know Dr. Chat Bot, a University-developed app designed to monitor for potential outbreaks of COVID-19.Read More
Rochester undergraduates joined their talents to create an online version of iconic campus spaces.Read More
When he’s not working full time for the state’s largest health network, Timmy Li ’11, ’17M (PhD) can be found volunteering as an EMT in New York City’s Central Park.Read More
Last summer, Tony Vargas ’08 tried to convince his colleagues in the Nebraska state legislature to consider his measure to protect the state’s meatpackers from COVID-19 infection. Having failed by two votes, he will reintroduce the measure in January. “One really encouraging change is that doctors and nurses and health care and infectious disease experts from our state have been using their voices to sound the alarm.”Read More
Todd Frazier ’92E, director of the Center for Performing Arts Medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital, says music and art are key to supporting health care for all.Read More
As the fall semester got under way, faculty adjusted their courses and classrooms to emphasize safety for in-person instruction while providing remote access.
Dance faculty member Kerfala (Fana) Bangoura and Missy Pfohl Smith, director of the Program of Dance and Movement, set up a Zoom option for remote students before Bangoura leads a West African dance class in person and remotely.See More