The Joy Board

In mid-March, we entered a completely unexpected situation: quarantine. With it came challenges, but also the discovery of new joys or reconnection with some of the things and people we enjoy most. Here are some of those joys from our faculty, staff and students.

Danielle White

Ph.D. student, mechanical engineering

I first hosted paint-and-sip nights as a way to bond with my fellow interns in 2017. Throughout quarantine, I’ve prioritized my happiness — one of the things I can control — and this often means painting whenever inspiration hits. I’m proud to say that I sold my first paintings within the last three months. This piece — a self-portrait — was a birthday gift to myself.

Shiva Prasad Patro

master’s student, electrical engineering

This is a photo of me and my girlfriend, Suchi, in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. After spending six months as interns at Micron in San Jose together, we ended up hundreds of miles apart when I moved to San Diego. But due to the coronavirus pandemic and the opportunity to work from home, I am getting to spend a lot of quality time with Suchi again. I am very happy and grateful that at times like these, we are together to support each other. She is truly my joy of quarantine.

Maral Mousavi

assistant professor of biomedical engineering (Pictured with Meisam Razaviyayn, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering)

Though we miss our regular work schedule, a little pleasant surprise for us was that we could spend more time together. Our favorite activity is experimenting with food from different regions of the world. We take joy in baking and cooking and sometimes competing with each other on new ideas. In this picture, we are baking a spinach quiche.

USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory

(Submitted by Ava Badii, propulsion lead, USCRPL)

Even though we’re scattered across the country and are observing stay-at-home policies, USCRPL is gearing up for a busy school year. While we anticipate guidelines we will need to follow in order to safely observe social distancing and COVID-19 safety guidelines, we’ve transitioned to online meetings and design sessions to build the rockets we love to fly. A big part of the RPL experience was the connections between team members, and it’s been a joy to re-create them online. Flights and static fires aplenty are planned for the 2020–2021 school year, and we’re looking forward to getting back to the grind. Flight On!

Ivan Bermejo-Moreno

assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering

I have been fortunate to find continuous joy while staying at home. First, it is always a joy to connect, even if remotely, with students in my lab and follow closely their amazing research endeavors. Second, there have been wonderful highlights in the world to witness and live through, like the recent SpaceX launch of astronauts from the U.S., the first in almost a decade, bringing great joy to space exploration enthusiasts like me. Finally, at a personal level, staying connected with family and friends makes life much more joyful, as does looking forward to riding for the first time the bike that I received the day before we went into quarantine.

Kelly Sanders

Dr. Teh Fu Yen Early Career Chair and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and spatial sciences

This is my pandemic pal, Joules, named after the English physicist and mathematician, James Prescott Joule. Although a “Joule” is a unit of energy, my Joules just wants to sleep on my lap all day. She is one of few who are absolutely loving every day of the shelter-at-home order.

George Ban-Weiss

Associate Professor of and David M. Wilson Early Career Chair in Civil and Environmental Engineering

My favorite thing has been getting the opportunity to spend more time with my kids. At the beginning of the shelter-in-place, I told myself that I didn’t want to look back on this period and regret not appreciating the extra time with them. That’s one way that I’ve stayed semi-sane. My oldest two kids are taking drum lessons, and we have been doing some jamming, which has been among my favorite moments!

Sathyanaraya Raghavachary

associate professor of computer science practice

My No. 1 source of joy is my family; a close second: books! In this photo, you can see behind me books related to math, computing, science, design and visual arts — subjects I’m passionate about. Books provide me comfort and joy, and I have always loved them.

Melissa Wen

B.S. CS ’20

This is a photo of my parents, my younger sister and me on USC commencement day. As you can see, both my parents are extremely excited about me and my younger sister graduating from USC and high school, respectively. Though leaving campus earlier than planned was unexpected, a silver lining is that I get to spend more time with my family. Since I went to college and pursued opportunities away from home, I haven’t been able to visit as much as I would like. Now that we’re all stuck at home together, we’ve been rediscovering the little joys in life, whether it is trying out new recipes, watching movies or simply chatting. I’m appreciative of how this time has strengthened our familial bond.

Paul Ronney

professor and chair, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

With the onset of online teaching and meetings, I’m fortunate to have a place to conduct (socially isolated) business other than my living room!

Tessa L. Yao

administrator, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

This is my kitty, Orange. I’ve had Orange for about four years. He’s the snuggliest, cuddliest cat in the world and is always in my lap or in my face. He’s been a great source of joy and comfort during the lockdown.

Krishna Nayak

professor of electrical and computer engineering

One of my joys during quarantine and working from home is the food! This is a snack from a few days ago: whole-wheat cinnamon raisin sourdough, toasted and topped with almond butter, honey, chia seeds and pecans. And of course, to go along with it, a soy latte! A real treat! I have a mid-morning snack like this every day. :)

Yutong Gu

M.S. ’20, electrical and computer engineering

My source of quarantine joy has been going on hikes with a small group of my friends — 10 or less, of course! Ever since the trails opened back up, I’ve been taking advantage by going on some of my favorite hikes like the Bridge to Nowhere and Trail Canyon Falls. Though it’s not shown, I make sure to bring my mask with me on these trails!

Garret Reisman

professor of astronautics practice

This is a quarantine project: a model airplane that my son, Buster, age 9, and I have been working on. Buster came down with pneumonia right around the start of the L.A. lockdown in mid-March. After he went into respiratory distress, we rushed him to the emergency room in the middle of the night. The two of us ended up being quarantined in an isolation ward for three days while we waited for COVID-19 test results, which thankfully came back negative, and we were immediately released. While we were in the hospital, we were given this airplane model kit by one of the nurses. Buster came home, made a full recovery, and we started putting it together — although as you can see we have a lot of work to do!

Heather Culbertson

WiSE Gabilan Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

This is my greyhound, Falkor. It’s been great having him at home as he forces me to get out of the house.

Joy Uehara

Mechanical Engineering, Sophomore

During quarantine, I have had the chance to spend more time working on and with my 3D printers as a part of a volunteer team that is 3D printing face shields to donate to health centers around the country. I have made over 1000 shields. This group of over 140 engineers and students has donated more than 23,000 face shields to over 150 locations. The stay at home period has been an incredible time to increase my technical skills, management skills (it's basically like running a non-profit), support others and keep busy.