With the coronavirus moving academic life online, some researchers are shifting their work to benefit health care workers.
Madeline Jensen is a University of Iowa graduate student studying sustainable water development. Her research typically focuses on chemical compounds known as PFAS, but Jensen says those studies aren’t considered critical right now. “That research I pretty much had to stop when the university shut down and I could only work on reading papers about it and writing what I could on it,” Jensen says.
However, since a U-I official approached her lab, Jensen has been working to create air filters for personal protective equipment like masks. This could better safeguard health care workers from breathing in tiny particles that may carry the virus.
U-I Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering David Cwiertny says his students usually make filtration devices to take pollutants out of drinking water. They’re adapting to fit with the current crisis, Cwiertny says, as anyone who does research looks for ways their work can help society.
Cwiertny says, “What we’re trying to do here is, if there’s an opportunity for us to contribute our expertise and help, rather than just sitting on the sidelines, when we would take that opportunity to see what we can do.” Cwiertny says normally he’d have about a dozen people in the lab, but now there’s just two to take proper precautions against COVID-19.
(By Katie Peikes, Iowa Public Radio)