WSU faculty and staff conduct a wide range of critically important
research. During this difficult time, our research is more important
than ever. We are a public, Land‑Grant university with a core
mission to serve the people of our state through research, Extension,
and education. At this time, COVID‑19 and how best to respond to
and recover from any pandemic is their greatest need. Virtually every
aspect of the research, scholarship, creative activity, and extension
activities you engage in throughout the WSU system are important
in a response to, and recovery from, COVID‑19 or similar crises.
What can we Cougs throughout the WSU system do in rising to
First, even if what you do has no obvious application or need to
shift to focus on COVID‑19 related issues, it is important that
you be prepared to ramp your program back up as soon as feasible to
help us all move forward as we recover. All of our scholarly and
creative efforts are important for our future, not just those related
to COVID‑19, and planning to safely ramp us back up has already begun.
Second, any of our researchers and scholars who can pivot their
work to more directly address COVID‑19, pandemic responses and
needs, and the aftermath are urged to do so if this can be done within
the guidelines conveyed by Drs. Keane and Slinker
on March 26, 2020. The Office of Research Advancement and
Partnerships (ORAP) regularly updates a web site that tracks
special programs to fund COVID‑19 related research—please track these possibilities.
Contact your grant or contract program officer to discuss whether there
are opportunities to shift your work (e.g., revise specific aims) or
seek supplemental funding to add a COVID‑19 dimension to your work.
Examples of the important activities currently progressing, among others include:
- Modeling of COVID‑19 disease spread,
including estimating resources WA State local health care providers
need to address the pandemic.
- Modeling and experimental work to assess the spread of droplets
and aerosols in a variety of environments, including dense urban cores,
large manufacturing structures, warehouses, restaurants, and construction
sites, among others. Also, potentially connecting that work with surveillance
of SARS‑CoV‑2 in those environments to match the environmental
characteristics to the viral loads may aid planning of workforce rostering
to maximize worker safety in these work places.
- Determining the short and long term impacts for hotel/restaurant
employees as related to stress, occupational identity and well‑being.
- Examining the impact of inmate release during COVID‑19 on crime.
- Economic modeling and collection of the corresponding data to guide
and test decisions about where best to allocate resources or change inputs
to help people reengage safely and to help different sectors of the economy
build back up during recovery.
- Alternate sources of the raw ingredients, or alternate raw ingredients,
for producing hand sanitizer.
- Expanding rural broadband access via our statewide Extension network
which is needed more than ever now with greatly expanding needs for
telework, telehealth/medicine, and distance learning.
To facilitate this important activity, the WSU System Executive
Policy Group (EPG) believes that a system‑wide coordinated response
would best facilitate and expedite matching our expertise—especially
where we have unique expertise to offer—with societal needs. An effort
to effectively coordinate such important activities would help guide decisions
toward areas of greatest need, and recruit teams of faculty, staff, and
students to respond. This may not only help WSU better respond in the nearer
term but also very importantly help us be viewed by our stakeholders as a
key partner for the future. Coordination may also help us better plan how
to connect near‑term responses to our decisions about future strategies
for our many research, scholarly, creative, and outreach strengths.
WSU has asked Professors Guy Palmer and John Roll to lead and coordinate
such a system‑wide effort. Professors Palmer and Roll will be in touch
with college, campus, and central administration leaders as they work with
our faculty and academic leadership to identify specific response goals and
objectives, and identify resources to develop them. Professors Palmer and Roll
will be supported by an executive leadership board, delegated by the President
and the EPG, consisting of the signatories of this note. This board will support
Professors Palmer and Roll and their colleagues to garner resources, develop policy,
interface with stakeholders, and other support they may need to help WSU contribute.
It is important to note that seeking to coordinate responses for greatest
impact does not preclude any individual response, but we hope that through
your collective efforts, some of you may also have opportunity to participate
in broader, coordinated responses where your expertise would help move things
ahead in concert with others.
We plan periodic communications regarding WSU responses to COVID‑19
from the senior leadership board, Professors Palmer and Roll, and individual
units. Please support Professors Palmer and Roll as they take on this
critically important and urgent task.
Vice President for Health Sciences
Vice President for Research
Vice President for External Affairs and Government Relations
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President