Florida State Research funds dozens of COVID-19 related projects

Published: May. 19, 2020 at 6:39 PM EDT
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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 19, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Researchers at Florida State University are digging deeper in to the various impacts of COVID-19 in our society.

The campus grounds are empty, but students and staff are still making a difference.

Florida State University Research is distributing $400,000 to fund 27 research projects related to the pandemic.

"There's a lot of pieces to this," said Dr. Gary Ostrander, Vice President of Research. "There's the biomedical side when you're talking about vaccines, and there's the treatment side. But there's also the affects on businesses, there's the socio-economic on communities, and then there's a significant personal impact of COVID."

Dr. Yanshuo Sun is an Assistant Professor of Industrial Manufacturing Engineering at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. He's helping lead a project looking at how COVID impacts hurricane evacuation, and how people might respond.

It's a collaboration with Tingting Zhao with the Department of Geography, Minna Jia with FSU Survey Foundry and Tian Tang with the Askew School of Public Administration.

According to their research by Colorado State University, Sun says this season is expected to bring more, and stronger storms. This project will help emergency management agencies be prepared.

"If they do go to the public shelters, can they maintain social distancing, or if they are transported by public transit vehicles, how could those authorities keep the occupancies of those vehicles relatively low so that people are not going to be affected," Sun said.

The group is sending out a survey asking about evacuation concerns, like financial constraints or public health worries, like following social distancing or stay at home orders.

That information will then go to emergency management so they can better understand how the community will respond.

"Those government agencies can know what kind of factors are constraining people, so that they can do something, they can modify this matter. That way we can see some improvement," Sun said.

FSU Research says this funding will also help teams attract national and federal funding, giving them a "leg up" when applications for funding projects go out later this year.

Dr. Sun says they will be sending out 3,000 questionnaires at the end of the month. They will be distributed online and by mail to people in the Big Bend, Jacksonville and Tampa.

The university is fast tracking these projects, putting a 90 day deadline to get results.