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Office of the Vice President for Research

Office of Research Announces Recipients of the COVID-19 Internal Funding Initiative

The Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to announce the recipients of our special internal funding initiative to support research and scholarship related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have funded 42 projects involving 82 faculty members from five campuses, eight colleges/schools and 29 different departments across the University of South Carolina.

UofSC researchers have a unique opportunity to enhance South Carolina’s public health, economic well-being and other factors related to COVID-19.

— Prakash Nagarkatti

This special funding initiative will enable faculty members to begin impactful new research projects and generate preliminary results that could be developed on a larger scale to secure extramural funding to pursue more comprehensive studies.

“UofSC researchers have a unique opportunity to enhance South Carolina’s public health, economic well-being and other factors related to COVID-19,” said Vice President for Research Prakash Nagarkatti. “Our office is proud to help facilitate these timely studies in a wide variety of disciplines, from medicine to political science and education, and support our exceptional researchers in making an impact.”

UofSC President Bob Caslen commented, “I am proud of our faculty’s impact on the community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their innovative research continues to inform future planning for our city and state and maintains the standard of academic and research excellence at our university.”

We are pleased to congratulate all of the researchers who had COVID-19 research projects funded through this initiative. These researchers should refer to the COVID-19 Research Initiative website for grant terms and conditions and other important guidance.


COVID-19 Research Initiative Projects

PI and Collaborators Project Title Abstract Keywords
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Rudisill, Caroline

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior

International Perspectives on COVID-19: Personal Experience, Risk Perceptions, Optimism and Vaccination Intentions The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for global health and economic security; yet it provides opportunity for innovative behavioral decision making research. Infection and mortality rates vary across countries and groups as differences in individual behaviors occur within a complicated policy and cultural context . We will complete a rapid, online, nationally representative survey of 4,000 residents of Italy, Spain, the UK and the US evaluating perceptions of COVID-19 risks, risk-related behaviors (e.g., social distancing) and vaccination intentions. Investigating risk perception and preventive behaviors across contexts informs theory relevant to this and future pandemics and future COVID-19 vaccination efforts. tag 1, tag2

Connors, Elizabeth

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
To Believe or To Not Believe: Reception of Expert Cues During COVID-19

Extant literature finds that Americans increasingly distrust experts. We build on this in the context of a global crisis, hypothesizing that expert recommendations aiming to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are ineffective because people do not trust experts. We propose to test this in an online survey experiment that varies whether a source is expert or non-expert as well as whether the information given is fact or experience and positive or negative. Examining the reception of information from experts in this context can inform communication strategies that could save lives in large-scale crises.


Bookstaver, Brandon

College of Pharmacy, Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences

South Carolina COVID-19 Treatment Outcomes Registry

In the current coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) outbreak, South Carolina has reported approximately 2,000 positive cases and 40 deaths. South Carolinians may be at particularly high risk due to significant risk factors such as obesity, underlying cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. Current pharmacologic treatments for COVID-19 are considered experimental and there is significant need for safety and effectiveness data. Investigators propose the creation of a COVID-19 treatment registry for the state of South Carolina. The registry will provide critical data to assess short- and long-term safety and effectiveness outcomes among hospitalized patients. Clinicians, regulatory agencies, and scholars will benefit from these invaluable data.  

Barringhaus, Kurt

USC School of Medicine Columbia, Department of Internal Medicine

Myocardial Injury: miR Profiling to Distinguish Ischemic from Non-Ischemic ST Elevation

Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 infection frequently incur myocardial injury, but current diagnostic procedures based on ECG findings (ST elevation; [STE]) lack precision, resulting in patients undergoing unnecessary invasive procedures and other forms of treatment. This project will develop a biomarker capable of distinguishing COVID-19 myocarditis from other causes of STE, most notably myocardial infarction. We have applied microRNA (miR) profiling to identify heart failure patients suitable for cardiac device therapy and to assess responsiveness to exercise training. This project will develop a similar strategy to personalize diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for patients with COVID-19 myocarditis and other causes of STE.


Armstrong, Bridget

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Exercise Science

The Acute and Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 on Children’s Obesogenic Behavior Patterns: A Natural Experiment on the Role of Structured Days Children exhibit healthier obesogenic behaviors on school days compared to non-school days. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in extended school closures across the country. Lapses in health behaviors during this period may lead to entrenched unhealthy behavior patterns which persist even after structure is resumed. This study will leverage an existing NIH-funded cohort of elementary aged children to examine the immediate and long-term impact of COVID-19 on children’s’ physical activity, sleep, diet and screen time patterns. This study will fill significant gaps in our knowledge related to the impact of external structure on the development of children’s health behavior patterns.  

Cai, Guoshuai

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences

COVID-19 Severe Progression Prediction with AI Approaches from Multi-dimensional Data Precisely identifying COVID-19 patients with high risk of malignant progression is critical to optimize the initial disease triage and resource allocation. This project aims to integrate multi-dimensional information from publicly available large-scale healthy people genomics data and COVID-19 patient data (including blood molecular features, plasma cytokine levels, clinical parameters and chest CT imaging) and use AI approaches to achieve accurate prediction of COVID-19 severe progression in later days. We expect that the outcomes from this project will provide an effective screening tool for high-risk patients and generate great insights on risk factors into COVID-19 etiology, treatment, prevention, and prognosis.  

Cavanagh, Kimberly

University of South Carolina Beaufort, Department of Social Sciences

Quarantining Paradise: A Comparative Study of Two Tourism Economies in the Time of COVID-19 It is estimated that tens of billions of dollars and 50 million jobs in the travel industry will be lost globally as the world scrambles to contain the COVID-19 virus. This comparative case study examines the socio-economic realities of two sun-sand-and-sea tourism communities, Aqaba, Jordan and Hilton Head Island, USA. Using digital ethnographic methodologies paired with archival and media-based research, this study explores the fragility of tourism-dependent economies, highlighting challenges encountered by two communities, as they attempt to survive this moment. Further, it contributes to the larger discussion of sustainability of tourism as the main economic driver within marginalized communities.  

Chatterjee, Saurabh

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences
COVID-19 Risk Potentiation in Underlying Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (GWVI), the Role of Gut-Lung Microbiome Dysbiosis and NLRP3 Inflammasomes Gulf War Illness Veterans suffer from underlying systemic inflammation and increased serum levels of proinflammatory cytokines IL1β, MCP-1, IL6, increased DAMPs such as HMGB1 and endotoxemia. As we grapple with increased COVID-19 cases of lung disease in elderly, it is extremely urgent and important to understand the susceptibility and pathophysiology of COVID19 and higher fatality in our GWI veterans. The present proposal addresses the possible increased susceptibility in GWI veterans that might be a possibility due to the persistent altered lung microbiome and their interactions between host bacteria and viruses causing a net increased release of proinflammatory mediators.  

Chruszcz, Maksymilian

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Role of human LY6E in Protection Against SARS-CoV-2 Infection – Molecular Basis Members of LY6 family of proteins are evolutionary conserved and their role is beginning to be elucidated. Recently LY6E and LY6K were identified as targets in the development of cancer therapeutics. Other studies showed that LY6E impairs the fusion of SARS-CoV-2 into human cells and controls this viral infection. It was shown that LY6E is required for uptake of large cargoes and forms tubules upon viral infection. We hypothesize that disruption of the tubule formation will enhance protection against viral infections; therefore we will target LY6E and the process of tubule formation with small molecular compounds and/or an antibody.  

Cutter, Susan

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography

Disparities in Response, Impact, and Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States This project examines the inequality in response, impact, and livelihood recovery for the millions of Americans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Media reports suggest the pandemic is increasing known health disparities by disproportionately affecting communities of color and lower-income communities. The project analyzes spatial and temporal data on response and impacts (testing, confirmed cases, protective action guidance, mortality) to ascertain whether the observed county geographic patterns correspond to underlying social vulnerability and disaster resilience. The research further examines geographic disparities in livelihood recovery, especially so-called “cold spots”, where unemployment does not return to its pre-pandemic levels.  

Davis, Rachel

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior

The Influence of Social Networks, Acculturative Stress, and Personalismo on COVID-19 Coping Responses among Latino Adults Latinos, who constitute the largest minority group in the U.S, report greater disruption and higher worry associated with COVID-19 than white or Black Americans. Effectively coping with COVID-19 requires engaging in protective behaviors, accessing resources, preparing for potential disruptions, and managing worry. Using data from a cross-sectional survey, this study will examine the influence of social network characteristics, acculturative stress, personalismo, and social support on COVID-19 coping among Latino adults. Findings from this study will deepen understanding of how social networks influence Latino health and inform efforts to connect Latinos with important information and resources during future crises.  

Deflem, Mathieu

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology


Celebrity Culture During the Pandemic: The Rise (and Fall?) of CoronaCelebs This proposal develops a sociological study of celebrity culture during the corona pandemic. The project will examine celebrity actions in relation to the pandemic and how the public responds to these activities. It will identify the actors, media, objectives, functions, and consequences of these celebrity engagements. Data collection will rely on social media and online available news stories. Funding is sought for support to hire an undergraduate and a graduate student for the Summer and Fall of this year. Celebrity culture is an important factor that shapes many people’s perceptions of the ongoing crisis and is deserving of careful scrutiny.  

DiStefano, Christine

College of Education, Department of Educational Studies

Essential Services: Child Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic Public schools in South Carolina are closed, however, child-care providers serving preschoolers are still operating. These children may be living in households experiencing high levels of stress and are more susceptible to developing mental health problems. Using an online screening system, this study measures mental health risk of children attending preschool during the COVID-19 pandemic to determine if rates show elevated risk. In addition, rates compared with different groups of preschoolers across time to examine how mental health risk may differ due to the pandemic. The project is the first to make inroads with private preschool providers in the state.  

Duncan, Graham

University Libraries, South Caroliniana Library

Documenting COVID-19 at the University of South Carolina

Following archival best practices for appraisal and acquisition, this project will collect, preserve, and then make available for future research primary source materials documenting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the University of South Carolina, and the University’s subsequent response and recovery. By collecting materials and encouraging use by researchers from a wide variety of disciplines, this project will contribute to the understanding of how institutions of higher education—and their associated communities of students, faculty, and staff—manage the logistical, technological, economic, and psychological challenges posed by 21st century pandemics.


Grier, Jennifer

USC School of Medicine Greenville

Innate Immune Gene Contributions to SARS-CoV-2 Clinical Complications

Disease severity among those infected with SARS-CoV-2 varies greatly, from no symptoms to complications requiring significant medical intervention. Among concerns for patients with severe COVID-19 disease are the possible implications of unregulated inflammation and secondary bacterial infections. The early antiviral immune response to SARS-CoV-2 is dominated by a unique subset of genes, many, like IFI27 and IFI35, with undefined effector functions. Using gene editing in human lung cells, we aim to investigate the contributions of IFI27 and IFI35 in the initiation of inflammatory responses and susceptibility to secondary bacterial infection for use in the study and treatment of COVID-19 patients.


Hoque, Shamia

College of Engineering and Computing, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

SARS-CoV-2 Transmission: Influence of Surfaces and Flow at Boundaries on Deposition, Adhesion and Persistence The proposal will establish the experimental protocol supported by computational simulations for determining the indoor conditions that influence and control the deposition, adhesion and persistence of a model virus in built spaces. Adhesion mechanism will be elucidated using a quartz crystal microbalance. Viruses will be released in an indoor simulation chamber mimicking two source types – sneeze and vent, and tracked spatially and temporally. Surfaces properties will be quantified. Particle image velocimetry will capture flow characteristics and fluorescent signals for viral particle locations. Simulations will extract details of shear flow rates, velocity profiles and viral particle dispersion pattern and deposition rates.  

Johnson, Joseph

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Application of Novel Pattern Identification Methodologies to COVID-19 Medical Patient Data

Problem: The identification of patterns, both in numerical data tables, and in networks of connections among people and things, is a central scientific problem. Significance: We have discovered a powerful and transformative cluster and entropy spectral means for identifying patterns in both tabular and network data. Methods: We seek to code our developed analytics on a server for multiple investigators including our planned analysis of our extensive medical patient data for COVID-19 pattern analytics. Impact: Our powerful data analytic programs can be applied to all numerical scientific data identifying cluster and entropy patterns using our USC patented code.


Jun, Jungmi

College of Information and Communications, Department of Journalism and Mass Communications


Asian Americans’ Experience with COVID-19 Related Discrimination and Communicative Coping Strategies

Due to the origin of COVID-19, racist/xenophobia attacks and discrimination against Chinese and Asian Americans have radically increased. We propose to investigate Asian Americans’ COVID-19 related discrimination experience, communicative coping strategies, and engagement in activism in the victim and the bystander perspective. Online survey will be conducted with Asian American victims and bystanders across the U.S. Structural equation modeling (SEM), other statistical analyses, and qualitative textual analyses will be mixed. The findings will guide efforts to combat discrimination against racial/ethnic groups, share effective communication strategies for victims during coping, and empower victims and bystanders.


Kanyangarara, Mufaro

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Pandemic Response to Coronavirus in West Africa

The overarching goal of this project is to improve the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in West Africa. To this end, we will assess current strategies by analyzing the content of media coverage. At the same time, we will quantify and project trends in the COVID-19 pandemic using an infectious disease framework and mathematical modeling methods. The project will improve our understanding of the epidemiology and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings will inform COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and response in West Africa and other regions.


Karami, Amir

College of Information and Communications, Department of Library and Information Sciences

Explore Diseases and Chemicals in COVID-19 Scholarly Articles with Data Science Techniques

On March 16, 2020, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a call to action to develop new text and data mining techniques that can help answer scientific questions in the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19) of scholarly literature about COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, and the Coronavirus group. The traditional methods are time-consuming and labor-intensive. Therefore, computational methods can help the experts to find patterns in this dataset with more than 47,000 research papers. This project will develop a platform to analyze CORD-19 to detect and investigate diseases and chemicals and explore their trend from 1970 to 2020.


Li, Jie

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry


High-throughput Screening of An In-house Natural Products Library for Discovery of Potential SARS-COV-2 Main Protease Inhibitors

Taking advantage of our unique in-house natural products library, we propose a facile and high-throughput screening for discovery of potential SARS-COV-2 main protease (3CLpro) inhibitors in response to the current life-threatening COVID-19 pandemic. This continuously growing library currently physically contains 155 pure microbial natural products, ~3,500 extracts and fractions, and over 500 isolated diverse bacterial and fungal strains. A combination of computation-based virtual screening has been performed, leading to promising hits to be investigated by a target-based physical screening using a high-throughput fluorescence resonance energy transfer technique. This proposal holds promise to discover lead compounds to combat COVID-19.


Li, Xiaoming

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior

The Impact of COVID-19 on HIV Treatment and Care: A Multilevel Data Approach Investigation

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically interrupted routine healthcare delivery, including HIV treatment and care. The proposed study aims to: 1) examine the scope of HIV treatment service interruptions; (2) examine the impact of such interruptions on HIV care access and HIV treatment outcomes; and 3) identify areas of improvement and strategies of preparedness at both provider and system levels in response to future public health crises. We will accomplish these aims by collecting and analyzing multilevel data including an on-line survey among healthcare providers, in-depth interviews with healthcare system leadership, and state-level aggregated data on HIV incidence and viral load.  

Li, Zhenlong

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography

A Preliminary Study of using Social Media to Monitor the Spatial Propagation of COVID-19 and Quantify the Effectiveness of the Control Measures Human movement is an important driver of the geographic spread of infectious diseases, which is especially true for COVID-19 that can be transmitted during the incubation period. Understanding human movement could help us gain better insights into the current infectious risk and future risk at the population level. This project aims to conduct a preliminary study of developing a novel big data-based approach to 1) monitor spatial propagation of the virus on different geographic scales, 2) gauge the compliance of social distancing, and 3) quantify the effectiveness of control measures in containing the spread of the virus. More comprehensive studies needed from this preliminary effort will have broad impacts in diverse fields where human movement plays a role, such as infectious disease transmission in public health (focus of this project), transportation, and tourism.  

Limberg-Ohrt, Dodie

College of Education, Department of Educational Studies


Addressing K-12 Students’ Academic, Mental Health, and Career Development Needs during COVID-19 The immediate and long-term impact of closing schools on students due to COVID-19 needs to be understood. Schools provide a place for children and their families to receive services; however, even though students can’t go to school they still have academic, mental health, and career development needs. In our study, we will use consensual qualitative research to explore how school counselors addressed these needs of K-12 students during the outbreak of COVID-19. The results of our study will have immediate and future implications for school counselors and more importantly the students they serve.  

Liu, Chang

College of Engineering and Computing, Department of Chemical Engineering

Nanopore Portable Assay for Monitoring Circulating Antibodies in COVID-19 Patients

SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has recently emerged to cause a pandemic. While nucleic acid diagnostic tests were rapidly developed, serologic assays are still lacking but urgently needed. Validated serologic assays are important for detecting asymptomatic cases, contact tracing, identifying serum donors, and epidemiological studies. We recently developed a nanopore biosensor with femtomolar detection limit and high specificity for HIV serologic assay. Based on this method, we propose to develop a portable, semiautomatic, multiplex, quantitative assay device to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in patients’ blood. With existing collaboration and approved IRB protocols, we will collect patient samples from Prisma Health to validate our assay.  

Liu, Jihong

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Impacts of Social Distancing Practice on Vulnerable Pregnant and Postpartum Women During the Outbreak of COVID-19: Cross-Sectional Electronic Surveys Social distancing measures have emerged as key strategies for flattening the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigating impacts on an already-stressed health care system. This study will serve as an essential first step toward understanding the impacts of the pandemic on mental/physical health, health behaviors, and access to care on at-risk pregnant and postpartum women. We propose to conduct two online surveys among pregnant (n=500) and postpartum (n=500) women living in the United States. Our findings will provide essential data for the preparedness of future public health system as emerging infectious diseases are predicted to occur with increasing frequency.  

Mohammadi, Ehsan

College of Information and Communications, Department of Library and Information Sciences

Detecting and Investigating COVID-19 Misleading Information on YouTube During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have increasingly looked online for information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus. YouTube is one the most popular sites for such information. This research will use a new automatic method to identify COVID-19 videos on YouTube and utilize different sources of data to study the features of misleading and non-misleading information in a systematic way. Results can be shared with academic and general publics, as well as with the medical community, strategic, and health communicators who may be creating health-related content to be shared on YouTube in the future.  

Nolan, Melissa

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Clinical, Molecular, and Epidemiologic Investigations of COVID-19 Transmission in the Peripartum/Postpartum and Perinatal/Postnatal Setting The first US congenital COVID-19 case was recently identified at Prisma Upstate. This combined with recent reports that pregnancy is a significant comorbidity for severe disease, warrants further investigation. Our proposal brings together clinical and scientific experts to assess 1) the disease burden and health outcomes of pregnant women, recent mothers, and newborns, and 2) the viral shedding kinetics in whole blood, nasal swabs, breastmilk, and other specimens prospectively collected from infected patients. Results will contribute to clinical guidelines for breastfeeding infected mothers and distancing guidelines for infected mothers/newborns, and scientific publications on congenital transmission and maternal-child health outcomes.  

Ostermann, Jan

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Health Services Policy and Management


A Real-Time Assessment of the Economic and Mental Health Burden of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Four Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Comprehensive data systems track COVID-19 cases and deaths in near-real time, but the economic and mental health effects, including those resulting from unprecedented social distancing policies, are not captured. As a Principal Investigator for ongoing cohort studies in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, I propose to conduct a series of biweekly phone surveys with random samples of adults to document, over a 5-month period, trajectories of the economic burden and the mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic as the pandemic unfolds. The goal is to characterize the social costs of the pandemic and inform policies to mitigate its effects.


Pellegrini, Christine

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Exercise Science


Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Stress and Dietary and Physical Activity Behaviors: A Qualitative Investigation

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely influencing Americans’ stress levels and diet and activity behaviors. This is significant because obesity, a result of inactivity and poor diet, may be associated with COVID-19 symptom severity. The purpose of this study is to explore current changes in stress and diet and activity behaviors from a social ecological perspective by interviewing 30 participants with overweight/obesity. Examining how individuals cope during this situation will help to better inform and tailor future adaptive weight management programs and public health recommendations, not only in the event of a future pandemic but also for everyday stressful life events.


Roth, Benjamin

College of Social Work

Responding to COVID-19: The Role of Immigrant-Serving Organizations

This study explores the impact of COVID-19 on immigrant communities and how local immigrant-serving organizations have responded during the crisis. The project builds on a larger multistate organizational study. It aims to strengthen our understanding of community-based  responses to COVID, the role of organizations as resource brokers amidst unanticipated strain, and the safety net for vulnerable immigrant communities. Our mixed-methods design—an on-line survey with organizational leaders and a follow-up phone interview—will allow us to identify organizational response patterns, how and why they developed, and the mechanisms involved with sustaining them.


Schooley, Benjamin


College of Engineering and Computing, Department of Integrated Information Technology

Virtual Health Visit Innovations to Reduce COVID-19 Exposures and Optimize Patient Care

Benefits of telehealth include improved resource utilization and access to care, and reduced risk of spreading infectious disease. In rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Prisma Health offered free synchronous virtual health visits to anyone needing COVID-19 screening and implemented telehealth for all first line primary care visits. This study analyzes these technology services; their impacts on patient and provider exposure to the virus and healthcare utilization; and socio-technical innovations created during the response. A mixed-method approach will be employed to analyze HER data and operational staff perspectives. Results are expected to provide important insights on the design of telehealth services and technology innovations for the future.


Shoub, Kelsey

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science

Tracking Elite Cues and their Effects on Public Behavior Related to COVID-19

The public is highly responsive to cues sent by political elites, whose messages can shape social cleavages. We know little about how those cues translate into individual action when they conflict along party lines, among party elites, or across levels of government as in the United States. As such, we need studies tracing elite discourse on COVID-19 and linking it to individual behavior, which we propose to do by examining elite discourse on Twitter and television news and through a set of survey experiments. Together, these pieces can aid in modeling outbreaks and informing policies—now and in the future.


Shtutman, Michael

College of Pharmacy, Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences

Analysis of COVID-19 in Prisma Health Staff and Patients: Monitoring the Virus Landscape and Progression

There is an acutely urgent need of local hospitals, and specifically the USC of Department of Internal Medicine, to routinely monitor the infection status of front-line medical personnel treating Covid-19 patients. Another need is to monitor the virus load of admitted patients to predict the course of disease. We have adopted and verified two independent testing strategies for SARS-CoV-2 with clinically obtained materials from infected patients. We will monitor medical professionals and patients. We will also use Next-Gen sequencing of viral RNA to determine routes of viral transmission. Mathematical modeling of transmission will be developed to minimize intrahospital spreading.


Stauffer, Katelyn

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science

Compliance with Stay-at-home Orders: Evidence from an Observational and Experimental Analysis

One of the major questions in a democratic society for policymakers and researchers is how to encourage compliance with the law. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis and subsequent stay-at-home orders provide an opportunity to explore the factors that lead citizens to comply with (or defy) government policies. Using both observational and experimental data, we examine compliance with stay-at-home orders. Both analyses will focus on the effects of representation, institutional, and other political factors on compliance. This project has benefits for theory and practice, providing insights into the potential consequences of institutional and policy reforms for compliance.


Tang, Hengtao

College of Education, Department of Educational Studies

Online Teaching with the Constraints of COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mixed Methods Approach for Understanding UofSC faculty’s Needs and Experience This project seeks to understand UofSC faculty’s needs for and experience with online teaching with the constraints of COVID-19 pandemic. Rapid campus-wide online deployment due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic engenders novel challenges and new social, technical, and pedagogical needs for instructors to effectively teach online, but instructors' voice has not been heard yet. We will conduct a mixed-methods research by collecting complementary sources of data from online instructors. By synthesizing multiple sources of evidence, this project is significant in establishing knowledge bases and offering practical implications for policymakers, faculty, and faculty support teams to maintain high-quality online education.  

Testerman, Traci

USC School of Medicine Columbia, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

Assessing Effectivity and Toxicity of Misty Plasma Systems for Disinfecting Personal Protective Equipment Shortages of personal protective equipment are critical problems during the present coronavirus pandemic. Disposable masks and gowns are comprised of materials that are sensitive to heat, UV light, and many chemical sterilants. Low temperature, gas-phase plasmas have the ability to kill microbes. Microbicidal activity is enhanced by addition of an ultrafine water mist, hence the name “misty plasma”. Unlike UV light, misty plasma is able to access irregularly shaped equipment and may permeate multi-layered masks. Because no toxic chemicals or radiation are involved, misty plasma may even be safe to sanitize skin.  

Torres, Myriam

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic among Latinos in South Carolina

Research problem: SC’s Latinos have been disproportionally affected by previous calamities. Past disasters have revealed SC’s emergency preparedness plan lacks the ability to address the needs of this vulnerable group.

Significance: COVID-19 is causing havoc in the US. Not being adequately prepared to address the needs of underserved populations before, during, and after emergencies, can have tragic consequences.

Approach/Methods: In-depth interviews with Latinos and stakeholders to better understand the emergency preparedness needs and coping mechanism used before, during, and after the COVID-19 catastrophe.

Broader Social Impact of the Project: Researchers will use results to inform/assist SC agencies to be better prepared when coordinating/responding to the needs of Latinos during emergencies.


Trevors, Greg

College of Education, Department of Educational Studies

Development and Deployment of a Digital Game to combat COVID-19 Misconceptions

This project leverages unique strengths of psychological research on belief change and design principles of gamification to develop, evaluate, and widely distribute a new digital game to combat COVID-19 misconceptions. The digital game will be designed to motivate and positively engage learners via game elements and mechanics, including individual feedback. Affective reactions, belief, and adoption of corrective health content will be measured. The digital game will be widely disseminated online. Affect, belief, and uptake reports and user interactions on the platform will be data mined for relevant learner analytic variables and user profiles.


Turner-McGrievy, Gabrielle

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior

COVID-19 Pandemic: Effects on Participants’ Physical Activity, Diet, and Stress in the Nutritious Eating with Soul Study Infectious disease outbreaks such as the current coronavirus-19 pandemic, mirror natural disasters in the deleterious health effects that are incurred on populations. This mixed-methods study will (1) examine participant satisfaction with the transition of delivering in-person interventions using e-learning environments and (2) assess the health impacts (i.e., psychosocial, physical, and behavioral) of the coronavirus-19 pandemic among African Americans currently participating in a dietary lifestyle intervention. Findings will benefit researchers in a constantly changing environment.  

Valafar, Homayoun


College of Engineering and Computing, Department of Computer Science and Engineering

  • Anita Nag
Understanding the Molecular Function of Nonstructural Protein 1 in COVID-19 Infection Using Computational Modeling and Proteomic Studies The emergence of multiple zoonotic coronaviruses incapacitated our way of life in the past two decades. As of April 8th, 2020, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infected 1,455,855 individuals and claimed 83,666 lives in just four months. Successful treatment and speedy prevention of COVID-19 entails an in-depth understanding of its life cycle inside the host cell. To rapidly decipher the viral life cycle, especially virus-host communication, we propose a synergistic approach to combine proteomic data with computational modeling of protein folding, surface mapping, and molecular docking to expand our understanding of other coronaviruses to COVID-19.  

Werfel, Krystal

Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders
Evaluating the Effects of Embedding Physical Activity to Optimize Virtual Vocabulary Learning in Children with Hearing Loss Although face-to-face intervention is by far the most-used service delivery model in speech-language pathology, the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, specifically forced social distancing, has brought telepractice to the forefront. Little research on the effectiveness of interventions delivered virtually exists in speech-language pathology and maintaining child attention during virtual sessions is one major concern. Physical activity improves attention in traditional educational settings. This study will compare the effectiveness of virtual vocabulary intervention in three conditions: traditional, meaning-unrelated physical activity, and meaning-related physical activity. Findings will provide guidance to speech-language pathologists for planning virtual intervention sessions.  


27 April 2020

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.