Assistant Professor, Department of Integrative Biology
Years at OSU: 1
City of residence: Philomath
When Jamie Cornelius came to Oregon State University from Eastern Michigan University, she was ready to adjust to the changes of a new university. But as she began preparing for her first term teaching at OSU this spring, she quickly realized that things were going to be very different.
Cornelius is an assistant professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, where she studies the mechanisms wild animals use to cope with unpredictable and extreme environmental events. Her husband, Taylor Chapple, is an assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. He was on a research vessel in the Indian Ocean doing studying sharks when the pandemic started making news. As airports began shutting down internationally, his team decided to end their trip early. But getting back home to the U.S was becoming a challenge.
Meanwhile, Cornelius was depending on her previous online teaching experience to pivot to remote teaching, but as a new faculty member, the pressure was high. Additionally, she runs a songbird lab in Cordley Hall, and when campus shut down, she lost her research team in the middle of a large experiment as they were no longer allowed on campus.
“It felt like a constantly evolving situation so I was just trying to remain mentally flexible and roll with the changes,” Cornelius said. “Unpredictability is something that’s really hard to cope with (I actually study that in birds) and so it didn’t come as a surprise to me to feel really upended by the rapid and uncertain changes that were flying at us left and right.”
As she frantically booked tickets to get her husband home, she also had to figure out how to tackle her research project without her team and find childcare for their two young children. Cornelius wasn’t sure how she’d juggle it all. Luckily, her department’s administrative assistant checked in with her during the height of her panic and was able to put things in motion that landed her a graduate student assistant and a lot of peace of mind.