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CATE, NTF and Me

Covid-19: Collaboration, Opportunity, Virtual, Invention, Distance

This blog was contributed by Leisa Nichols-Drew, a Forensic Science Lecturer at De Montford University, and winner of both an NTF (2019) and a CATE (2018) award. Leisa is also a friend of the Committee of ANTF. Based in Leicester, which experienced an extended lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, Leisa was inspired to share with us her reflections on academic life during lockdown. Here, she shares her thoughts on Collaboration, Opportunity, Virtual, Invention, and Distance.

If you were asked to choose one word to describe the Covid-19 pandemic, what would your choice of word be? Unprecedented? Rainbow?

When reflecting on the last twelve weeks, I actually found this extremely difficult, to choose just one word, which resulted in me creating an acronym. This was in no way out of disrespect or failing to acknowledge the severity of this situation, it was a coping mechanism to summarise my personal snapshot of this time.

I am a new NTF (2019) and was fortunate to be in a CATE winning team (2018), so for me being part of the NTF-CATE network is a community of like-minded people, where uniting together and collaborating is key. Since 23rd March 2020, I believe ‘Collaboration’ has never been so relevant, whether it is colleagues pulling together, families living and working in one space, neighbours looking out for each other, and people clapping their appreciation on doorsteps for our key workers and NHS.

Additionally, this difficult time in my mind has given us an ‘Opportunity’, one to pause, to take a moment to think and reflect, develop, even to declutter, to try something new such as knitting, baking, or hair cutting!

One word that had to be included is ‘Virtual’, whether communicating in team meetings, informing each other in conferences, socializing with friends and relatives, participating in quizzes, fitness, choirs and even escape rooms online.

This brings me to ‘Invention’, as we have all had to change (whether we liked it or not) and find new ways to do our jobs, shop, home school, live, learn and work. For some, this may be for the better, when considering the positive impacts on wellbeing and reductions in travelling time. For others, the impacts may be longer lasting and uncertain.

Finally, I had to include ‘Distance’, not only the recommended two metres from one another, but the isolation I have felt from relatives, the people I work with, my students, even though ironically, we have never been more connected with technology. Even, events where we look forward to attending to celebrate together were cancelled, such as weddings, birthdays, graduations, concerts, holidays etc. When I had a bereavement at the beginning of lockdown, not being able to attend the funeral, to grieve together was unknown territory for my family, as I can imagine many others during this time.

Moving forward, whatever the next steps will be, this has made me realise the importance of contact, to rejoice when we can (and we will) be together again. Furthermore, be kind and thankful, to others and yourself.

Thank you for reading.

You can find out more about Leisa here: and follow her on @ForensicLeisa on Twitter

Photograph of Leisa Nichols-Drew

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