Gator engineers are shaping the future of things that are vital to society as we traverse the COVID-19 pandemic landscape: reliable testing, contact tracing methods, protection for healthcare workers, predictive models for efficient healthcare operations, and many other necessities. Take a glance at what we are doing and how you can help, and check back often for updates and to see new solutions we are creating.
Piyush Jain, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and a member of the UF Health Cancer Center, and Long Nguyen, a Ph.D. student, have developed a CRISPR-based, paper-based, rapid detection technology that can identify SARS-CoV-2 cDNA in as little as 5-10 minutes or SARS-CoV-2 RNA in as low as 30-60 minutes without the need of expensive equipment. They want to utilize this technology to create an inexpensive at-home Coronavirus test kit, similar to pregnancy test strips.
Industrial & Systems Engineering Professor Yongpei Guan, Ph.D. and Assistant Professor Xiang Zhong, Ph.D., have received an Early Concept Grant for Exploratory Research from the National Science Foundation in support of their study on data-driven Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Recovered-Infected (SEIRI) modeling and risk averse sequential planning for patient beds, staffing and personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals to combat the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
TRIDENT: A trimodal sensory system for detecting onset of an infection
Engineering researchers in UF’s Warren B. Nelms Institute for the Connected World are developing TRIDENT, a tri-modal sensory system for detecting onset of an infection such as COVID-19. TRIDENT is built on an Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure that utilizes a three-pronged suite of connected sensors and devices: multi-modal sensors, interactive edge devices, and secure cloud-based software. These components work in conjunction with one another to provide real-time alerts to individuals and guidelines for precautionary measures while constantly assessing the risk of contracting the virus or spreading it by alerting users when they are unintentionally violated. The system uses readily available components, such as mobile phones, making it very accessible and affordable and enabling anyone at risk to easily integrate it into their home/work environments. TRIDENT can also monitor and provide informative predictions to assess the condition of patients who are already quarantined or hospitalized and then model their disease progression.
PI: Soumyajit Mandal, Ph.D., UF Warren B. Nelms Institute for the Connected World, Co-PI: Forrest Masters, Ph.D., UF Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment, Yier Jin, Ph.D., Sandip Ray, Ph.D., Swarup Bhunia, Warren B. Nelms Institute for the Connected World; Nikolaus Gravenstein, M.D. UF Anesthesiology
COVID Hospital Resource Capacity Planning Using Discrete-Event and Agent-Based Simulation Modeling
Engineers in UF’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and collaborators from the Department of Anesthesiology are developing a discrete-event and agent-based simulation for modeling COVID-19 hospital facility management. These decision tools have the potential impact to allow advanced mitigation planning for elective and urgent surgical procedures including trauma, stroke, and chest pain under extreme resource constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The simulation models are now at the stage of model enhancement and validation for semi-automated decision-making.
PI: Michele Alvarado, Ph.D., UF Department of Chemical Engineering, Co-PI, Patrick Tighe, MD, UF Anesthesiology
Detecting hazardous actions such as coughing, sneezing, food sabotaging, and incorrect social distancing in retail settings during COVID-19 pandemic and beyond
Scientists in UF’s Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering and collaborators from the UF Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Loss Prevention Research Council are developing a dataset of hazardous actions, such as coughing, sneezing, food sabotaging, and incorrect social distancing, for the purpose of conducting a Kaggle contest and a UF hack-a-thon to spur algorithms that can be used for automatic flagging of these actions. This dataset and challenge have the potential to make essential activities, such as grocery and pharmacy visits, safer for shoppers and employees and could have a wider applicability for controlling the spread of other diseases such as the influenza virus. This dataset and challenge will create an opportunity to innovate and benchmark new algorithms focused on pandemic-related actions. The project is now at the stage of developing a plan and applying for funding from the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
PI: Dr. Read Hayes, Director, Loss Prevention Research Council, Co-PIs: Eakta Jain, Ph.D., Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering, and Boyi Hu, Ph.D., Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
Surveillance of Airborne SARS-CoV-2 Virus for Personnel Protection against COVID-19
Engineers in the UF Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences at the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment (ESSIE) are developing a novel virus aerosol sampler for a non-invasive technology for COVID-19 detection. The device efficiently collects the airborne virus, the information of which enables healthcare providers pinpoint risk areas and identify measures for improvement. The application has the potential of applying beyond the testing areas, and eventually, general public areas (e.g. airports, subways, government buildings, shopping centers) will be able to adopt this powerful device in order to detect airborne pathogenic viruses early on and effectively mitigate their spread. Dr. Chang-Yu Wu and his team are deploying this device in various locations to gather samples, which we should receive in a few weeks.
PI: CY Wu, UF Department of Environmental Engineering at the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment (ESSIE), Co-PI: Hugh Fan, UF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Sensors to Detect Bio-Components
Scientists at the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering are developing a sensor platform for a low-cost, disposable, fast-response technology for COVID-19 detection using test strips similar to glucose test strips. The sensor potentially has a response-time for less than 1 minute. The detected signals intend to be developed as digital electrical signal, which does not need trained technicians to operate the detection. The detected signal can be automatically recorded.
PI: Fan Ren, UF Department of Chemical Engineering and Stephen Pearton, UF Department of Materials Science and Engineering
UF Engineers research compact portable unit to disinfect SARS Cov-2 contaminated surfaces
Scientists in UF’s Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering are developing a novel solution to disinfect SARS CoV-2-contaminated surfaces using Dielectric Barrier Discharge (DBD) plasma reactors. Their research will create a safe, energy-efficient, easy-to-use, compact portable disinfection unit. DBD technology acts as a powerful reusable disinfection system for surfaces and objects, including masks, gloves, suits, equipment, medical supplies, and personal effects. The plasma-based decontamination technology has already been proven against a wide range of bacteria and viruses and thus shows promise for inactivation and inhibition of SARS CoV-2. The research is currently submitted as an initiative for funding where the next steps will include testing at UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute. Dr. Subrata Roy’s engineering team and collaborators from the College of Public Health and Health Professions will test the decontamination technology, and initial results will be available in approximately three months. With successful test results, the portable disinfection units can quickly be made available to protect frontline healthcare personnel in crowded medical and laboratory facilities where rapid disinfection of personal protection equipment is essential.
PI: Roy, Subrata, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Please check back regularly, as we will post additional information and new research projects whenever information is available.