COVID Information Commons: Lightning Talks (April 2022)


The April 2022 COVID Information Commons (CIC) webinar took place on April 15th, 2022. In this forum, leading COVID-19 scientists funded by the NSF presented their current research on the global pandemic. Florence Hudson, Executive Director of the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub at Columbia University and COVID Information Commons Principal Investigator (PI), and Kenia Pujols, CIC Program Manager, moderated the discussion. The researchers presented a wide variety of topics, each touching on broader themes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. All four projects presented are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).


First, Justin Boutilier, from University of Wisconsin-Madison, shared his research: Investigating Performance of an Online Platform for Matching Supply and Demand for Medical Equipment During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Boutilier’s work focused on the manufacture and distribution of face shields during the pandemic. His team developed a pop-up supply chain to facilitate the sale and market distribution of PPE throughout the U.S. in 2020. The Shield-Net website produced sales matches delivering 50,000 shields to 68 health organizations throughout the country. The program has led to additional collaborations with Engineers without Borders and the UN Development Programme. 

A video and English transcript of Justin Boutilier’s presentation can be found on the CIC website.

Next, we heard from Zachary M. Boyd, Brigham Young University, about his research:  LEAPS-MPS: Structure and Dynamics of Global Supply Chain Networks.

The overall goal of the project was to increase overall understanding of the breakdown and recovery processes of global supply chains. COVID-19 has dramatically changed economists’ and logisticians’ understanding of the global supply chain, and efforts to restructure the global manufacturing system have developed as a result of the pandemic. Boyd’s research focused on possible supply chain modeling and estimating the impact of possible future disruptions to that supply chain. 

A video and English transcript of Zachary Boyd’s presentation can be found on the CIC website.

Next, we heard from Murat Kantarcioglu, from the University of Texas at Dallas, about his research: Collaborative: A Privacy Risk Assessment Framework for person-level Data Sharing During Pandemics

Kantarciolgu’s presentation was a return to the COVID Information Commons. His discussion provided the audience with an update on the research he first presented to our community in October 2020. Kantarcioglu’s work focused on privacy concerns and data sharing as scientists sought to predict and prevent local outbreaks during the first months of the pandemic. His team posited a new, dynamic method for protecting patient data using a privacy risk estimation framework. 

A video and English transcript of Murat Kantarcioglu’s presentation can be found on the CIC website.

Concluding the webinar, we heard from Kaiming Ye of SUNY at Binghamton, who discussed his research: Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation for Disinfecting and Reuse of N95 Respirators.

Ye presented his research on PPE shortages in hospitals during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. His team’s goal was to provide new methods for disinfecting and then reusing PPE in a way that would maintain safety protocols for healthcare providers. They studied the virus’ susceptibility to UV light, and UV-C in particular, as this type of radiation is a known disinfectant for air, water, and nonporous surfaces. 

A video and English transcript of Kaiming Ye’s presentation can be found on the CIC website.

Following the fantastic presentations, Florence Hudson and Kenia Pujols hosted a Q&A session where the audience engaged in a rich discussion with the researchers. These talks offered great insights about the future of COVID-19 research.

A recording of this event is available on the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub’s YouTube Channel and the COVID Information Commons website. The COVID Information Commons is an NSF-funded project brought to you by the Big Data Innovation Hubs, led by the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub at Columbia University. 

We look forward to welcoming you to our next webinar. 


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