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Coronavirus: Mortality fears; working remotely; and leadership response in a crisis

Experts available on a variety of COVID-19 issues

Northwestern University professors are available to comment on a range of issues -- from fears about mortality to organizational response during a crisis -- in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Psychologists Alexandra Solomon and Richard Zinbarg and Kellogg School of Management professor Nicholas Pearce share their perspectives on some of the concerns people have when living and working through stressful situations. 

Alexandra Solomon is an assistant clinical professor in Northwestern’s Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy program and a staff therapist at The Family Institute. She teaches the course “Building Loving and Lasting Relationships: Marriage 101” and is the author of “Loving Bravely: Twenty Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want.” She can be reached at

Quote from Professor Solomon about working from home with your partner
“You can both love someone and need space from them. Let go of the story that if we don’t want to spend this time in a perpetual snuggle, we are doomed. Take space when you need it — lovingly and gently. And accept that you and your partner might need space at different times. You might find it helpful to make a plan for when you’ll be in different parts of your home and when you’ll spend time hanging out together. When we are not intentional about taking space when we need it, we risk growing irritation that leads us to take space by snapping at our partner and storming off.” Read more in her blog on Psychology Today.

Richard Zinbarg is professor and chair of the psychology department in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. His areas of expertise include anxiety and its treatment. He can be reached at 

Quote from Professor Zinbarg on our fear of mortality
“Everyday life and the limits of human awareness conspire to keep most of us out of touch with our fear of our mortality most of the time — thus, the silver lining of coronavirus is that it’s making more of us aware of our fear of mortality so that we are more likely to ask ourselves the questions of whether we are living in full accordance with our highest values and whether we will have major regrets if we were to die in the near future.” Read more about “sacred anxiety” in his blog post.

Nicholas Pearce, clinical associate professor of management and organizations at Kellogg, is a leading expert on values-driven leadership. He’s the author of “The Purpose Path: A Guide to Pursuing Your Authentic Life’s Work” (St. Martin’s Press, April 2019). He can be reached by contacting Molly Lynch at

Quote from Professor Pearce on leadership in a crisis
“This (coronavirus pandemic) shines the spotlight on the purpose vs. profit conversation in terms of how organizations and leaders respond. For example, do you discount it to allow operations to continue as usual while putting people at-risk or do you take the necessary precautions to protect people even at the expense of business operations. 

“In times of fear and crisis, your organizational culture is put to the test -- how you respond to sustain community and show zero tolerance for discrimination is important.”