Between at-home learning, remote working, and social distancing, the past year of endless Zoom meetings has been a zoo, or at least felt like being caged in one.
For research students in Malevolence Innovation Security Leadership (MISL), an interdisciplinary research lab at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO), the availability of vaccines and sunshine of a spring day allowed for a much-needed change of scenery.
Instead of conducting the final meeting of the year over Zoom, MISL headed east to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.
“It was honestly amazing just to see people in person, many for the first time. I’ve missed people so much,” said Lauren Zimmerman, IT Innovation Fellow and incoming PhD student in the Information Technology Doctoral Program at UNO. “I missed the laughter that comes from being together in person, like when Dr. Derrick insisted we eat at the treetop restaurant to see the monkeys......and only one monkey showed up.”
MISL is comprised of students at undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels across disciplines like Information Technology, Political Science, Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Business. The diversity within MISL is a testament to the emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration of both the National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education (NCITE) Center and the Center for Collaboration Science (CCS).
“MISL brings together students from every corner of the university,” said Joel Elson, assistant professor of IT Innovation at UNO and one of the leaders of MISL. “This diversity is an essential component of innovative and successful collaboration. It is an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of such an amazing team.”
Those involved in MISL get access to mentorship from NCITE Director Gina Ligon, NCITE Director of Innovation and Transition Doug Derrick, and Elson, as well as bi-weekly meetings aimed to develop students as both researchers and young professionals.
After a year of challenges brought on by the global pandemic, the escape from Zoom to the Zoo was a well-deserved outing for all.