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Being resilient

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

The concept of resilience has been around for centuries. In high school physics, we learn about Hooke’s law for compression and deformation of springs, and the concept has evolved and has been applied across many disciplines: physics, engineering, health, psychology, sociology, disaster studies, and ecology among others. Broadly, we can say that resilience is the ability to recover – and thrive, from big changes.

We just experienced a very difficult year, one with many changes. The Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19 continue to disrupt our lives and we continue to endure the pain of loss.  In 2021, our Mason Science community lost two dear colleagues, Lee Talbot and Tom Lovejoy. Both had illustrious scientific careers focused on environmental causes while inspiring and enthusiastically educating the next generation of scientists.

As the new semester begins, we are coming off a winter break that offered at least some moments of rest and joy. If you were able to get some much-needed downtime, you begin the new year and the spring semester focused and productive. Go chase those lofty goals! We are here to support you.  The Mason Science community also has your back if you or your students feel a sense of overwhelm or are in pain. Perhaps try some of these suggestions when it all feels like too much. Remember, you are not alone.

Together we have a shared mission to foster meaningful STEM education for all and to perform impactful research of the important issues of our time. At Mason, we aim for a healthy environment, healthy society, healthy people, and healthy economy and look for partners who share these same goals and values. 

By joining NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP), I’ve made a commitment to building a diverse future STEM workforce by engaging underserved and underrepresented students, faculty, and communities in NASA’s mission, which dovetails well into my own “Why.” This is one of the reasons I came to Mason. Finding partners like NASA who share our mission and fund our research and programs, leading to our collective success.

Building one’s resiliency, to withstand or recover, move forward and eventually thrive from these difficult conditions, is a lesson we are learning each day. This flexibility and ability to spring back when faced with disappointment or adversity is a critical skill. As we head into the spring semester, let’s set a collective goal to strengthen our resiliency. We will all be the better for it.