GeoBadgers @ Home

March 13, 2020 was the last ‘normal’ day for many of us in the Weeks Hall community. In a (slightly belated) commemoration of the strangest year any of us have experienced, we reached out to GeoBadger grad students to hear what they’ve been up to over the last 365 days since COVID-19 redefined our lives. Although we’ve been apart, our community remains strong, and we’re grateful to everyone who has kept ‘showing up’ for each other on zoom, slack, etc this year! Here’s to optimism for our shared future, and a possible return to Weeks End, coffee chats, and closer interaction with our colleagues in the fall semester. From low times to silver linings, here is what a few of our fellow grads had to say about a year in quarantine.

Special thanks to the following individuals for sharing their experiences: Ben Bruck, Shan Ye, Nate Stevens, Rachelle Turnier, Emily Mixon, Andrew Jones, Ethan Parrish, Joe Hayes, Catherine Christenson, Mel Reusche, Sarah Trevino, Chelsea Volpano.


  1. What is a good thing that has happened during quarantine (rose)?
  2. What is your least favorite part of quarantine (thorn)?
  3. What is your #1 survival tip or trick for quarantine?
  4. What do you miss most about Weeks/Geoscience?
  5. Any other remarks about the last year?

Ben Bruck

  1. My friends back home moved our Pathfinder game online, so I’ve been able to play with them again.
  2. Not being able to go to the movies!
  3. Be generous with yourself. Celebrate your successes, and don’t fixate on your failures. These are incredibly challenging times, and you’re doing a lot better at getting through them than you realize.
  4. The people!
  5. I’ve been telling everyone, my cat is a great roommate, but a terrible coworker.

Shan Ye

  1. Many workshops/short courses/conference meetings are virtual – easier to attend!
  2. No field trips
  3. Leetcode daily programming challenges in the morning help me switch to the working mode
  4. The library on the 4th floor

Nate Stevens

  1. Made more intentional time for non-academic activities
  2. Very little work/life separation
  3. Pre-load the coffee-press at night
  4. Spontaneous scientific discussions
The workspace

Rachelle Turnier

  1. I got married to the love of my life!
  2. Not being able to do any lab work for almost a year and now having a year’s work of lab work toll and dissertation writing to finish in a couple months. At the same time my car has been in the shop for several months now and my refrigerator died for two weeks.
  3. When it was summer, camping! Right now…no idea.
  4. Seeing people in the hallway and at Weeks Lecture/End
  5. Wish we could just call it a mulligan and restart this year as if it were last year.
Kitchen Polishing

Emily Mixon

  1. passed quals from my basement, learned to love running and enjoyed seeing all the seasons pass through my neighborhood!
  2. lack of work/life separation, missing friends and family
  3. celebrate the small wins, set aside non-screen time, and when that all fails, take up cake baking/eating.
  4. the spontaneous discussions, feeling inspired by coworkers and friends, coffee walks to Aldo’s or Indie!

Andrew Jones

  1. I ate more sandwiches from Cassetta’s Deli
  2. I ate less food from El Wiscorican, the food truck conveniently stationed outside of Weeks.
  3. Cassetta’s Deli
  4. Weeks End

Joe Hayes

  1. Found a little more time to be by myself and reflect on what I actually want.
  2. There is no way to be spontaneous.
  3. Stick with your pals
  4. Weeks End honestly
  5. Frankly, I’m a little surprised how well all the testing and low number of cases in the GEO building.

Ethan Parrish

  1. I passed both orals and prelims.
  2. I miss not worrying every time I step out the door.
  3. Getting outside and getting away from work. I think this is also my tip for gradschool in general, but i found my daily walk practice absolutely vital to my mental health this past year. I also have the wonderful fortune of being quarantined with my best friend and wife, so unlike many people, I had the privilege of delightful company.
  4. Impromptu hangouts/conversations and Weeks End (obvi)
My coworker cuddling during office hours
Madison in quarantine

Catherine Christenson

  1. Adopted a puppy!
  2. feeling isolated from family and community.
  3. take it one day at a time. learn new recipes and try new restaurants (take out!).
  4. lunch/chat time with fellow grads.
  5. It has felt difficult and isolating, particularly isolating with regards to work.
New roomate/coworker


  1. Not a thing.
  2. Depression.
  3. Go outside more.
  4. People.
  5. I’m trying to forget about it.

Mel Reusche

  1. Had a baby, bought a house, started school
  2. Isolation with said baby, higher stress levels
  3. Going outside, all weather.
  4. The museum, and popping into offices for chats

Sarah Trevino

  1. Building a close and supportive community
  2. The, at times, frustrating and overwhelming, changes to even the simplest, routine things.
  3. Build a flexible routine and keep it.
  4. The people. My tight geo family 🙂
  5. Being stuck inside really does help with writing!
Sunset walks

Chelsea Volpano

  1. Adopted a roommate! (My dog Clarabelle)
  2. Zoom… It’s fine sometimes but gets draining when it’s the only option for social contact
  3. Take lots of walks!
  4. Lunch in the courtyard or on the balconies!
  5. Overall, I’m pretty darn lucky. My research is based in WI and I was given permission to conduct field work for the 2020 season. I was able to collect all the data I need to finish my Master’s!