Professors Bucking, Ormeci, Sadeghian and Erochko were the recipients of research monies to provide seed funding for individuals or teams of researchers for original, innovative, and time-sensitive research to propose solutions to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, or to apply to external research grant competitions targeting the COVID-19 pandemic. The research had to have the potential to contribute to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, or to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and/or its negative consequences on people and communities.

Canadian Autonomous Rapid Test Center (CUCART) – Dr. Scott Bucking

The Community Design Lab (CDLAB) recently completed development of a rapidly deployable, autonomous, tiny home. An industry partner approached CDLAB with a request to adapt the design for use as a decentralized COVID-19 testing facility. The purpose of the proposed project is a pedestrian flow study of the modified design, to increase testing capacity by maximizing the number of patients processed per hour. The placement of key areas will be coordinated through an iterative approach, accommodating social distancing limits and occupant separation, as required.

As governments reopen economies, the need for pre-screening populations will exceed projected test capacity. A rapidly deployable autonomous unit, or Centre for Unitary, Contained and Autonomous Rapid Testing (CUCART), with integrated equipment, could help meet this demand. In combination with an NSERC Alliance proposal for digital design of the facility, and support from an industry partner well-versed in medical testing, the CDLAB intends to develop and assess the CUCART.

Monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater to Minimize/Prevent Future Outbreaks – Dr. Banu Ormeci

SARS-CoV-2 is present in the guts of COVID-19 patients and shed with their stool. As a result, the virus is present in raw (untreated) sewage and recent studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be detected in sewage much earlier than the first confirmed case in a community. Thus, monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in sewage provides an effective tool for early warning surveillance and understanding the prevalence of the disease in a community. Until a vaccine is found, COVID-19 will likely come back in waves and there is a need for noninvasive, effective, and easy-to-employ monitoring tools to effectively manage future outbreaks. This research will monitor the SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels in raw sewage as an early warning surveillance tool and at wastewater treatment plants to investigate the presence, fate, and removal of the virus. For more to the story click here

Design and Performance Assessment of Fast-Built Hospitals with Modular Construction – Dr Vahid Sadeghian and Dr. Jeffrey Erochko

Because of COVID-19, construction of fast-built temporary hospitals has gained significant attention. One effective solution for building such structures is to use modular construction with prefabricated components. However, currently there are not any specific design and construction guidelines for modular hospitals and the research in this area is limited.

In the proposed project, a multi-disciplinary research team will systematically investigate the safety and performance of modular buildings under different operational conditions for pandemic response; propose a series of modular designs that vary in capacity, deployment range, and construction materials; and evaluate and optimize the designs using computer models.

The expected impacts of the project include providing accessible medical resources for remote northern and rural communities, ensuring safety and improving efficiency of temporary hospitals, reducing the risk to medical professionals and minimizing outbreaks, and providing unique training and highly employable skills for HQP.