Current and Upcoming

December 2020 COVID-19 Research Webinar: Lightning Talks and Q&A

December 9, 2020
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Meet the scientists seeking new insights on COVID-19. Every month, we bring together a group of researchers studying wide-ranging aspects of the current pandemic, to share their research and answer questions from our community. Learn more about their ongoing efforts in the fight against COVID-19, including opportunities for collaboration.

During this event, we will also announce the upcoming COVID Information Commons Student Paper Challenge, an opportunity for students to learn about and contribute their unique insights about COVID-19 research. Tune in to learn about how students can participate and how you can get involved as a mentor or judge.

Join us on Wednesday, December 9th, at 3-4 pm Eastern Time, to hear from the following speakers. Register here to receive Zoom information.


Foad Hamidi, University of Maryland Baltimore County: RAPID: Responding to COVID-19 using High-speed Mesh Wireless Community Network Internet. Funded by NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering / Computer and Network Systems.

This project responds to COVID-19 by investigating an effective and efficient community-based approach in Baltimore City, Maryland to deploying free, broadband Internet and creating trusted open-access online education, career, and communication resources for low-income populations in the face of large-scale emergencies. This approach builds on existing research on the importance of equitable broadband Internet access and the potential of community-based solutions to bridging the digital divide.

Aron Laszka, University of Houston: Addressing Transit Accessibility and Public Health Challenges due to COVID-19. Funded by NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering / Computer and Network Systems.

In partnership with the transit agencies of Chattanooga, TN, and Nashville, TN, this research will rapidly develop integrated transit operational optimization algorithms, which will provide proactive scheduling and allocation of vehicles to transit and cargo trips, considering exigent vehicle maintenance requirements (i.e., disinfection). A key component of the research is the design of privacy-preserving camera-based ridership detection methods that can help provide commuters with real-time information on available seats considering social-distancing constraints.

Guan Saw, Claremont Graduate University: RAPID: Collaborative Research: Electronic Mentoring to Address Challenges in Engineering Graduate Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Funded by NSF Education and Human Resources / Graduate Education.

Researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio and University of Kansas will examine how electronic mentoring (e-mentoring) affects the academic, career, and mental health outcomes of engineering graduate students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research will yield important insights about e-mentoring and generate empirical data to document the differential impact of e-mentoring practices on graduate students. The research results also will shed actionable guidance about how to address the life and academic challenges of engineering graduate students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gloria Oporto, West Virginia University: RAPID: Prototype of a medical mask using a novel antimicrobial / antiviral biofilter material. Funded by NSF Engineering / Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems.

The overarching objective of this RAPID research project is to develop a prototype for a reusable and environmentally friendly biofilter with antimicrobial and antiviral properties to be used as a filtering facepiece respirator. It is expected that masks using these filters will have the ability to both prevent penetration by microorganisms (having a diameter as small as 50 nm) and to kill many infectious agents as well. If successful, the research will result in the development of a reusable respirator mask that is superior to the present-day mask. This will help to ease the shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers and give them the best possible protection against microbial threats such as COVID19.

Janet Williams, University of Idaho: RAPID: Collaborative Research: COVID-19, human milk and infant feeding. Funded by NSF Biological Sciences / Integrative Organismal Systems.

This study will investigate whether SARS-CoV-2 and anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies can be detected in breast milk produced by infected women. Results will provide needed information about potential spread of the disease between breastfeeding mothers and infants as compared to formula-feeding mothers and infants. This topic is urgent because women continue to give birth and breastfeed during the pandemic, and guidance is critically needed. The Broader Impacts of this project include outreach to the public to inform breastfeeding mothers about breastfeeding choices.

John Yin, University of Wisconsin Madison: RAPID: Ecological Dynamics of Human Coronavirus. Funded by NSF Biological Science / Molecular and Cellular Bioscience.

This project develops mathematical models and performs wet-lab experiments on human coronaviruses. The outcome will highlight how ecological interactions between strains and their host cells could critically impact the dynamics of virus growth, spread and ultimately their ability to cause disease.

John Yin, University of Wisconsin Madison: EAGER: Rapid and sensitive drug testing for COVID-19. Funded by NSF Engineering / Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems.

This EAGER project exploits microscopic fluid flows in cell and virus cultures to enhance sensitivity and speed, potentially reducing test times to one day. The project aims to identify best conditions for testing of drugs against the COVID-19 virus, which will expand opportunities to effectively treat infected patients.