Newswise — In our series, The ECS Community Adapts and Advances, Marion Jones describes the caring and concern characterizing her lockdown experience. She reports feeling supported by her North Carolina-based employer and the ECS community, allowing her to pay it forward by helping customers and caring for her family during this period of disruption. Marion also reflects on the multitude of opportunities that ECS offers to students, young professionals, and others in the electrochemical community.

WFH (Work From Home)—We All Need Support

“Scribner (where I work) makes instrumentation with equipment and materials that you can’t have at home, so WFH is not an option for a lot of my colleagues. When the schools shut down, we were told we could juggle work with our kids’ schedules. A couple of weeks later, when the governor shut down our state, our leadership reassured us that paychecks would continue even for those who couldn’t work from home—despite the sales decline.”

“While I’ve been able to continue my work, it hasn’t been without challenges. At times it’s impossible to get much done because I’ve been helping care for my one-year-old granddaughter who is at that busy, into-everything stage. No complaints—it’s been so much fun for me to spend more time with her! When she naps, I work. It’s not like that every day; only when her mom works 12-hour shifts at a nearby hospital.”

“I have done some work preparing quotes, to help people trying to get their grant applications in while their labs are closed. But the most significant thing I’ve done is help…customers access their licensed software from home to continue…their research. We provide a dongle that goes in the computer to unlock ZView and our other software products. Many customers reached out, concerned that they left their labs without the dongle and can’t go back to get it. We came up with a way to grant temporary licenses to enable customers to access ZView from home.”

An Eye on the Future

“I had planned to go to Montreal and will definitely go to PRiME if possible. I’ve missed only two ECS meetings since my first in 2009. I’m the chair of the Sponsorship Committee, so I go in part to convene our group in person. Now we’re planning it by Zoom and ECS staff is helping us prepare. One of our goals is to bring in more sponsorship for the Society through ads and other opportunities, which will be more challenging now. But honestly, you can get a lot done on Zoom.”

“I think ECS handled the Montreal cancellation rather well. The frequent communications were great—leading up to the Montreal cancellation, we were aware that they were monitoring peoples’ concerns. It wasn’t a surprise when the meeting was canceled. With events that large, you can’t just quickly turn them on and off. Offering exhibitors refunds on booth space was the right thing to do. I’m glad that some of the keynote speakers are giving webinars.”

“We all hope that we can come together in October at PRiME. It’s good to know that as ECS moves ahead with planning, they’re monitoring the situation and looking at contingencies. We can feel comfortable signing up, knowing that if something changes, or if we don’t feel comfortable, there will be options.”

“There are so many opportunities for individuals and organizations within ECS. I bring a slightly different perspective because I’m from the industry side of electrochemistry. You don’t have to be a researcher or a professor to benefit from engagement in our community. And you don’t have to be a scientist to help fellow members learn. For example, I’ve given presentations at (student) chapters providing interviewing and resume help. I know other industry leaders offer training and webinars.”

“ECS offers many ways for members to engage with, and be inspired by, world-famous researchers and their breakthroughs. Maybe there’s a subject that you haven’t quite grasped, but when you hear someone present on it, you think, ‘Oh, that makes so much sense. Now I know how to go forward.’ When you present your posters and research, you get valuable feedback, both positive and negative. Whether you’re learning or sharing, ECS offers many opportunities to get input from a broad spectrum from the research side to academics to industry. And I think that’s a really neat thing, to immerse yourself in the environment, for three, four, five days, seeing so many different ways of doing things and broadening your horizons. The introduction to people from other countries is another unique opportunity. I’ve made lifelong friends who I look forward to seeing twice a year at meetings and stay in frequent touch.”

Marion Jones works at Scribner, a small, family-run manufacturing company that sells electrochemistry research instrumentation to academic, industrial, and government labs. The company focuses on fuel cells, electrolyzers, and batteries. Scribner also licenses associated software, such as ZView, the first commercially available program for analyzing impedance, used by scientists all over the world.