Woo Soo Kim (School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering) is one of the many researchers based at SFU Surrey who are finding ways to fight COVID-19 with their research. Photo from SFU News.

The fight against COVID-19: Surrey researchers at their best!

November 16, 2020

SFU researchers have always done incredible work across a variety of disciplines. As we battle the current pandemic, research is critical, and SFU is making vital contributions on many fronts.

Today, more than ever, I’m proud of the many research initiatives underway at the Surrey campus that are contributing to the fight against COVID-19, many related to our strengths in health technologies. From the very beginning, SFU faculty, researchers, students and alumni have jumped in to help. Some projects are just getting started, while others have been underway since the beginning of the pandemic. Here are a few examples I'd like to share:

3-D printing personal protective equipment: From medical mask ear-savers to specialized door handles to portable ventilators, Mechatronics Systems Engineering’s (MSE) Woo Soo Kim and his students have been working to create COVID-19 supplies for frontline workers in the City of Surrey and Vancouver General Hospital. Through these projects, Kim is able to engage with his students and help them apply what they've learned in the classroom.

Improving social connectedness: A key issue continues to be how to stay socially connected yet physically distant to reduce COVID-19’s spread. Various researchers are tackling this issue: The School of Interactive Art and Technology’s (SIAT) Carman Neustaedter (now dean, Faculty of Communications, Art & Technology) is investigating how we can use technology to stay in touch with other.

SIAT’s Alissa Antle is looking at how a machine-learning, private social network can help address COVID-19 related socio-emotional needs in school-aged children.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from SIAT, MSE, and gerontology is also examining the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of older adults, and technological interventions to foster social connection.

Training healthcare workers with virtual reality and artificial intelligence: Steve DiPaola and post-doctorate researchers and graduates from SIAT are advancing virtual training simulations for healthcare workers on the correct application of personal protective equipment in long-term care facilities.

New technologies to combat COVID-19: MSE’s Majid Bahrami’s research is aimed at creating efficient antiviral air filtration materials and systems to combat COVID-19, while MSE’s Edward Park is designing wearable technology to allow for remote and continuous COVID-19 patient monitoring at home.

Trends, predicting and communication around COVID-19: SIAT’s Wolfgang Stuerzlinger’s research is focused on how to better communicate COVID-19 trends by using 3D visualization. MSE’s Mehrdad Moallem is creating an intelligent toolset to help predict and optimally control viral outbreaks.

Helping frontline health care workers: Working with Fraser Health, professor Ryan D’Arcy (Computing Science and Engineering Science) is investigating the impact of COVID-19 on frontline health care workers, and how virtual music therapy might help to improve their overall mood and emotional state.

Like many others at SFU and in the community, I take great pride in the fact that there are so many hardworking students and faculty researchers at the Surrey campus who are putting their work into action. Thank you for your work, your dedication and your contributions to keep all of us safe and well.

Many SFU researchers across the university are working hard to learn more about COVID-19. See what other research projects SFU researchers are engaged in.