Director's Message to UMIACS

In March 2020—14 months ago—the University of Maryland community began a tumultuous journey brought on by the rapid spread of COVID-19. This journey has dramatically affected our professional and personal lives.

For those of us that teach, we were required to immediately adapt to an online-only environment. Our research activities were upended, and our technical and business staff were required to shift to a new work paradigm.

Even the simplest interactions—seeing our colleagues in a break room or hallway and sharing a cup of coffee or an idea—were no longer available.

I don’t think anyone anticipated that the majority of us would still be working offsite more than a year later. Yet here we are, only now beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel as far as returning to a sense of normalcy.

We’re not quite there yet. I encourage all of you to continue to monitor official University of Maryland guidelines and protocols for returning to campus. The plan is to resume 100 percent normal activities this fall.

Looking back, I want to reiterate to our entire UMIACS community how proud I am of what we’ve done over the past year. We’ve collectively overcome many obstacles and have persevered with our teaching, research and service.

Looking forward, I anticipate we will work together to develop a “new normal”—where some activities will continue to be conducted online or through the use of a hybrid environment, even as the threat of COVID-19 recedes.

One thing will not change, however: our passionate commitment to science and knowledge that can make our world a better place. It’s a straightforward philosophy that has served UMIACS well for more than 35 years.

On a personal note, I would like to encourage those of you able to take a break this summer to do so. We’ve worked hard this past year and we’re now reaching a point where it’s time to recharge and enjoy time with family, friends and loved ones.

The newsletter will continue over the summer, and I look forward to seeing many of you in person as we continue to ramp up our on-campus activities. Until then, stay safe, and enjoy life!

Mihai Pop, UMIACS Director