University of Maryland Announces Coronavirus Research Seed Fund Award Recipients

University of Maryland Announces Coronavirus Research Seed Fund Award Recipients

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A pop-up COVID-19 clinic inspired by the art of origami. New ways to sterilize face masks and protective equipment with radiation. Novel drugs to fight the novel coronavirus.


The pandemic may have temporarily halted much of the ongoing work in labs and centers on the University of Maryland campus and around the globe to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, but it also unleashed a torrent of creativity from researchers eager to help society through this difficult passage.

The University of Maryland Division of Research announced 11 recipients of Coronavirus Research Seed Fund Awards. The Vice President for Research invited proposals from across campus that utilize the University of Maryland’s research strengths to rapidly contribute to human health and related outcomes with respect to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), including prevention, control, and response efforts.

“We are pleased to identify these promising projects for support, which will leverage University of Maryland faculty expertise to help address urgent health needs related to COVID-19, in service to our state and our nation,” said Vice President for Research Laurie Locascio.

The following projects received awards:

Molecular and Genetic Characterization of the Programmed -1 Ribosomal Frameshift Signal of SARS-CoV-2
Jonathan Dinman, Professor & Chair, CMNS-Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics
This project is focused on antiviral therapeutics.

Assessing the Social Consequences of COVID-19
Long Doan, Assistant Professor, BSOS-Sociology
Liana Sayer, Professor, BSOS-Sociology 
Jessica Fish, Assistant Professor, SPHL-Family Science
The purpose of this project is to examine the impact of state and local government social distancing efforts on behavior, time spent with others, use of technology and mental and physical wellbeing.


Bio-inspiredhydrogels for detection of aerosolized SARS-COV-2 
Gregg Duncan, Assistant Professor, ENGR-Bioengineering


Adolescent Mental Health in Response to Covid-19
Nathan Fox, Distinguished University Professor, EDUC-Human Development and Quantitative Methodology
The purpose of this project is to identify factors of resilience and risk that could inform intervention and prevention efforts to reduce the negative mental health impact of COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Origami Inspired, Self-assembling Clinic for Combating Coronavirus
Ming Hu, Assistant Professor, ARCH-Architecture Program
This project will produce a 3D proof of concept for a foldable clinic that can self-assemble within 12 hours.

Radiological Methods of N95 Respirator Sterilization and Recycling During COVID-19 Pandemic
Timothy Koeth, Assistant Professor, ENGR-Materials Science
The purpose of this project is to allow safe reuse of scarce respirator face masks desperately needed by clinical and emergency personnel.

How Companies Are Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic: Their Roles, Strategies, and Effectiveness in Promoting the Public Good
Sun Young Lee, Assistant Professor,ARHU-Communication

Universities’ Coronavirus Crisis Management: Challenges, Opportunities, and Initial Lessons Learned
Brooke Liu, Professor, ARHU-Communication
This project will assess how universities are adapting to online instruction and other challenges.

COVID-19 Exhaled Breath Aerosols and Transmission Risk
Donald Milton, Professor, SPHL-Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health
Dr. Matthew Frieman, University of Maryland, Baltimore
This project will screen critical UMD staff for COVID-19 to see if they are shedding the virus, improving campus safety and facilitating research on how to limit transmission.

Development and Evaluation of Novel Aptamer-based Therapeutics Targeting SARS-CoV-2 in a Physiologically-Relevant Model of Human Airway Epithelium
Margaret Scull, Assistant Professor, CMNS-Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics
Jeffrey DeStefano, Professor, CMNS-Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics
The purpose of this project is help develop new drugs to treat the novel coronavirus.

Tracking Public Risk Perceptions, Media Use and Trust in Government during the COVID-19 Crisis: A National Longitudinal Study
Ronald Yaros, Associate Professor, JOUR-Philip Merrill College of Journalism
This project will measure how information affects the public’s perceived risks of COVID-19 over time and to better understand the factors that health communicators, government agencies and media should consider when sharing critical health news with a national audience.

Evaluation criteria included impact on human health (specifically in Maryland), alignment with UMD strengths, urgency, risks, dissemination, and potential for additional external funding support.

The University of Maryland’s internal faculty research support program is a key resource in the university’s overall effort to expand its research activity, visibility and impact. The program is designed to enable innovative research, incentivize the pursuit of large, complex, and high-impact research initiatives, and help UMD faculty to be more competitive for extramural research awards. The program is overseen by the Vice President for Research and managed by the VPR’s Research Development Office. All award decisions are made subject to the availability of funds.


This article also appeared in Maryland Today.


April 9, 2020

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UMD's Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility, which simulates weightlessness, is one of only two such facilities in the U.S.