- UNC Researcher Studying Immune Responses
Assistant Biology Professor Ann Hawkinson, Ph.D., says a vaccine is not the only thing being developed in response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
While development of coronavirus vaccines remains vital, an important piece of the puzzle is also continuing to research immune system responses of animals unfazed by the viruses so that we may develop effective treatments for people that do become sick. One potential option for treating the virus starts with examining immune gene modulations in animals that show no symptoms of a virus despite being infected.
Hawkinson, who studies virus-host interactions in animals and their immune response during infection, researches virus interactions in deer mice and Jamaican fruit bats and said it’s common for wild animals to be “reservoir hosts” of viruses, a situation in which they are infected, but don’t experience disease.
She said there are seven known strains of coronaviruses that can cause disease in humans including SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and now SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) – the three that can cause disease ranging from mild to severe acute respiratory issues in humans. SARS-CoV-2 is very closely related to the virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2002, she said. Though the symptoms are similar, the initial response by world health officials to SARS-CoV in 2002 likely contributed to better containment.
- Reaching Out to Students Online
With campus closed and classes being taught through online delivery methods, UNC is creating new ways to help with student success and engagement. Student employees in the Division of Student Affairs created a monthly video newsletter with links to important information. Additionally, they’ve created a campaign called “#UNCBears share #WithUS” for other students to share videos of their ideas, tips and ways to transition to online classes. Student Affairs also offered a range of virtual services through Campus Recreation, with online workouts; the Career Readiness Center, with virtual career counseling; Student Life, hosting live concerts on Instagram; and UNC’s cultural centers creating virtual study tables. unco.edu/student-affairs
- GIS Mapping Visualizes Real-Time Data on Coronavirus Outbreak
“Mapping the COVID-19 outbreak gives key clues in understanding the current pattern, predicting the potential disease spread and mitigating the impacts in communities with a better understanding of vulnerability and resilience,” said Jieun Lee, Ph.D., an assistant professor in UNC’s Department of Geography, GIS, and Sustainability. Lee has created her own interactive map that tracks confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado. “In order to respond to the outbreak ahead of reaching its peak in Colorado, it’s crucial to understand what preexisting conditions make a certain community more vulnerable to the pandemic as well as the resources communities need to recover,” Lee said.
- Cybersecurity in the Age of Coronavirus
The pandemic hasn’t stymied bad actors from attempting to infiltrate software and operating systems. “This is not the time to let our guard down,” said Burkhard Englert, dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences. “Hackers have more time on their hands, and everything we are doing is online now.” Englert says one of the most important things you can do is to update your software and operating system. “Cybersecurity has really improved in the past 10 to 15 years. While the process will never be perfect, the closer we can get to 100% secure systems, the better.”
- Pandemics, Like Earthquakes, Hard to Predict
The way pathogens evolve make it inevitable that a variation such as the SARS CoV-2 strain of coronavirus will lead to pandemics, says Gregory DeKrey. The UNC associate professor of Biological Sciences, who studies and teaches immunology, likens pandemics to earthquakes.
“Eventually a big one is inevitable, but they’re really hard to predict when they might occur,” he said. Like earthquakes, infectious disease occurrences are monitored worldwide. Researchers continually cull from open databases for studies that include better understanding diseases and resistance to them. An effort in studying immunity is underway with COVID-19.
- How coronavirus Impacts Supply Chains
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has uncovered numerous flaws in supply chains, according to Mike Loughrin, an adjunct professor in the online Master of Business Administration program at UNC and CEO of Transformance Advisors, a consulting and education company for businesses. “While the response of our supply chains seems painfully slow, we’ll see increased production and then the response will likely overshoot our needs,” he said. This real-time situation offers a great teachable moment in Loughrin’s online MBA courses, and he plans to integrate new information and examples from the pandemic.
- Coronavirus Panic Buying Follows Marketing Theories
Toilet paper, pasta and hand sanitizer quickly disappeared from grocery shelves due to consumers hoarding these and other supplies due to fears of the coronavirus (COVID-19). But this isn’t out of the ordinary during such stressful times, according to Daniel Brannon, Ph.D., an assistant professor at UNC’s Monfort College of Business. “Research shows that when we have events like this, people will compensate through consumption, like stocking up on items, keeping pantries full and their family safe.” Brannon also said he plans on using examples from this event in future classes; they’re real-world examples of the marketing concept of scarcity and consumer behavior.
- Teaching Resources for Parents
As K-12 schools, colleges and universities turned to online instruction, UNC has developed a system called Bear Educators Supporting Teachers (BEST) to connect teachers, students and parents with teacher-education candidates and students who want to offer their expertise to help learning continue and thrive. Teachers and parents can request support through the UNC BEST Teacher and Parent Support Request Form. BEST volunteers can help adjust lesson plans to fit the new learning environment and provide recommendations on high-quality resources available that fit the Colorado academic standards. They can also suggest ways to develop classes and schedules that will allow students to stay engaged when completing learning activities at home.
Freshman Pre-Nursing major Ashley Buccholz made and gave away about 300 masks after being laid off from her job. From Washington State, Buccholz remained in Greeley for the remainder of the semester.