some palindromic reflections on being differently employed   Leave a comment

In a couple of weeks I will be completing the first year of this new normal we are going through worldwide. It has been a tough year for reasons I would have never thought I could have found myself involved in both personally and professionally. On this palindromic day (12-02-2021) I have decided to reflect, leaving the details of my personal problems to psychotherapy sessions, on some adjustments I had to bring in my professional life. I have to say that working remotely, which has been defined as smart working in Italy, was not exactly something exotic for me due to the computational nature of my job. However, before the pandemic, this smart solution never lasted more than a couple of weeks or months during holidays or differently employed periods of my scientific career. So I ended up doing research with a laptop and its installed virtual machine, a book as mousepad and a tablet as an additional screen to read articles and analyze chemical structure of small molecules. As a computational chemist, I missed the big screens of the desktop computer at the office. Anyway, I really tried to maximize my productivity with the available resources working under the influence of music, coffee, tea and other less professional, still vital, passions. The views of the city of Pisa were stunning in both places I spent last year.

smart working in the room/office of the first apartment

I have never been a very social person, so I would not say that I missed face-to-face interactions with colleagues or long coffee breaks. I actually started drinking coffee again during the first lockdown due to one of those rediscovered personal life passions I will not write about in this semiprofessional post. However, the first month and a half of remote work was somehow a disaster, most probably because I was enjoying too much the sound of the music and having too many coffee/tea breaks 🙂 I was also enjoying cooking and reading again, and my job had become a sort of hobby. Then, after being reminded by my previous advisor that I was not meeting his expectations on the results I was getting, I realized that I needed to organize better the structure of my working days and, fortunately, some good results started appearing.

homemade pizza: my cooking skills are back 🙂

I kept getting those good results even when I moved to another place in June 2020. However, last July I already knew that I was going to find myself unemployed or differently employed again at the end of the year. In the midst of all the daily life changes the pandemic brought (from the grocery shopping with a face mask to the confined walks inside an apartment), for the first time in my career, I was asked to contribute as a guest editor of a Special Issue for Life (, an online scientific journal by MDPI, and to be the peer reviewer of four scientific articles by different journals. As if I did not have enough spare time to fill up my days, I accepted almost all invitations. I was even invited to be the reviewer of a grant application, but I had to decline because my terrestrial day was starting to look like that of a workaholic. Instead of experiencing the feeling of an imminent job loss, I was completely overloaded by work because in the last two months of my employment I had also to write up two articles. I managed to submit one of the manuscripts to the Biophysical Journal (BJ) the day before of the end of my contract. Unfortunately, it was rejected by both reviewers, but now we are following their comments and suggestions to make our resubmission to BJ stronger than before. Fortunately, the second manuscript will be submitted to Life for the Special Issue entitled “Advances in G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) Medicinal Chemistry” and with a deadline of June 30, 2021 will allow me to look for a job as well. I promoted the Special Issue in my social and professional media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) to increase its visibility.

remote working in a different room/office with a stunning view
the room with a view in the months of June (top) and October (bottom)

Since the mid of last December I am unemployed or, as I keep writing in this post, differently employed because I have not stopped working from home. To be honest, I have been dedicating more time to the garden and the running of different house related errands so far. Anyway, I am planning to dive more into the scientific work in the next two weeks of this month because I am also attending the 65th Biophysical Society (BPS) Annual Meeting with a poster presentation (595-Pos Analysis of L-DOPA and Droxidopa binding to Human Beta 2-Adrenergic Receptor #bps2021). Although, due to the pandemic, the meeting will be held virtually, I am still kind of excited about it because I have always found BPS Meetings (both Annual and Thematic ones) an excellent way to interact with other scientists. Since I will be attending a job fair associated with the meeting, it is also going to be a platform to look for a job.

Meanwhile I will keep relaxing doing gardening and, when the weather and the restrictions due to the pandemic will allow it, I will try to enjoy the beauties of Sardinia.

alocasia plant and other lovely plants in the garden
a view of Capitana beach in Quartu Sant’Elena overlooking the Gulf of Cagliari


Posted February 12, 2021 by andrecatte in career

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