Reimagining Global Research in a Pandemic

Global research before and after COVID-19, clockwise from top left, pandemic-era work on Vulci 3000, Anirudh Krishna's pre-COVID work in India, Lauren Franz working remotely with South African team, and Gayani Tillekeratne's pre-COVID work in Sri Lanka.
Global research before and after COVID-19, clockwise from top left, pandemic-era work on Vulci 3000, Anirudh Krishna’s pre-COVID work in India, Lauren Franz working remotely with South African team, and Gayani Tillekeratne’s pre-COVID work in Sri Lanka.

If it weren’t for COVID-19, Gayani Tillekeratne would be in Sri Lanka right now.

Tillekeratne, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and assistant research Professor in Global Health at Duke, usually spends half the year in Sri Lanka, studying threats such as the dengue virus and respiratory tract infections.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Guyana Tillekeratne worked closely with colleagues in Sri Lanka. Now these collaborations occur virtually. Photo courtesy of Gayani Tillekeratne.The longest of her trips often begins in January, but with the COVID-19 limiting Duke-supported travel, Tillekeratne has spent the past year in Durham, communicating with collaborators in Sri Lanka through Zoom and WebEx.

“It may be at a slower pace or a smaller scale, but we’ve been able keep the work going,” Tillekeratne said.

With students, staff and faculty working, learning and serving in more than 150 countries, Duke has long prided itself on helping address complex challenges across the globe. While domestic travel will be allowed for fully vaccinated employees who have the approval of their deans and directors starting May 2, Duke-supported international travel remains suspended – with certain exceptions – until at least August 8. That’s meant faculty members with international research interests have found creative ways to continue global missions.

Travel Policy Update

While Duke has extended its travel suspension due to the pandemic until at least August 8, starting May 2, top-level managers can grant exceptions for domestic travel by fully vaccinated employees. Visit the website below for details.

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