WSU faculty and staff conduct a wide range of critically important research. During this difficult time, our research is more important than ever.

Calling all Coug Scholars

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 this occasion?

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.

Go Cougs!

Daryll DeWald
Vice President for Health Sciences

Chris Keane
Vice President for Research

Colleen Kerr
Vice President for External Affairs and Government Relations

Bryan Slinker
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President