This New COVID-19 Test is Bringing Us Closer to the Cure
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African-american scientist or graduate student in lab coat and protective wear works in modern laboratory

The University of Washington’s Virology Lab has been working tirelessly since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It was one of the first labs to formulate a test for the presence of the virus and has processed thousands of these tests at its facilities. In fact, the university’s virology lab is currently processing its newest success in partnership with Abbott Labs’ antibody test for COVID-19.

The University has been running trials of Abbott Labs’ antibody blood tests, designed to find out who has natural or built-up immunity to COVID-19. The trials have proved to be incredibly successful.

Though showing immunity isn’t a cure, it is a major step to getting to that point. Knowing who is immune and who has had the virus before helps track the origins of the disease, knowing the components that can be used in a vaccine, and helps ensure the safety of bringing people back into the workforce. It is unclear how the antibodies of the novel coronavirus work or if you could get infected with the virus a second time, but Keith Jerome, the leader of the University of Washington’s virology program, assured that people with the antibodies will have more protection than those who do not. Receiving the virus a second time could result in more cold-like symptoms and not require the extreme hospitalization methods in place now.

The work being done in the study of antibodies through the University of Washington would not be possible without Abbott’s partnership. The antibody test produced by Abbott is not the first of its kind to be produced, but it is said to be the most reliable and the most sensitive in analyzation. In fact, Abbott’s test has correctly identified COVID-19 99.6% of the time against other viruses and has a 100% sensitivity to the coronavirus antibodies. Best of all, the test only takes about ten to fifteen minutes to retrieve the results.

“This starts to get us to the point that we can make a difference for the population of our area, get people back to work and give them back the lives that they were hoping for,” Jerome said.

Create a Live Video Community (and Why You Would Want to)
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young black woman filming a video while playing guitar

There is a good chance that most people reading this have tuned into at least one live video over the last week. It’s something that is becoming increasingly popular, and is expected to continue to increase in popularity going forward. There are many good reasons why more influencers and businesses alike are turning to creating a live video community, and harnessing the power that it can offer. Now is the time to learn how to create a live video community and why it’s so important to do so.

“People are showing that they love live video and interacting with it in a big way,” explains Alexander Riesenkampff, the chief executive officer of GetVokl, a livestreaming platform. “We have helped many people build and grow their live video community, and know that as this field continues to grow, we will be helping many more.”

People tend to feel more urgency to watch a live video. Seeing that it’s live gets them interested. The area of live video offers a lot of potential for those who are brand influencers, businesses, or those who want to make a strong connection with their followers. Not only is viewing live video on the rise, but research shows that it tends to outperform recorded video.

Those interested in creating a live video community should spend a little time exploring how others have done it. GetVokl, for example, has many live communities that can be accessed, providing a good place to do a little homework and learn the ins and outs. Once you are ready to get started, GetVokl can help you create a larger community. They also make it easy to directly monetize the audience. The app allows each live video to be shown across multiple platforms at one time. This ensures that your video is live across all platforms, rather than being live on one and then having to post a recorded video to the others.

Here are 5 reasons why it’s a good idea to create a live video community:

  • Live video gives you the ability to increase engagement and interaction with your audience. It allows for immediate feedback and discussion. This helps to build authority, make a connection, and increase loyalty.
  • An effective marketing tool, creating a live video community can lead to an increase in sales and revenue. It gives all types of companies and influencers a way to increase their earnings.
  • Live video communities feel real and authentic. This is one of the reasons why people prefer it to recorded videos. Most recorded videos are heavily edited, yet people prefer the authenticity that comes with it being live.
  • There is a greater ability to make an impact when you engage in live video with your target audience. They can ask questions, provide immediate feedback, and get to know your personality more.
  • Audiences tend to watch for a longer period of time when the information is coming to them live, as opposed to in a recorded video. Keeping your target market watching longer makes for a more effective marketing experience.

“Creating a livestream community is something anyone can do,” added Riesenkampff. “Once you do it, you will see there are benefits. It’s like getting the chance to be with your people in the same room, even if they are thousands of miles away. Whether you hold Q&A sessions, offer how-to talks, host interviews, provide advice, or just offer fun looks into what you are doing, it leaves a powerful mark.”

GetVokl is an app that allows people to livestream across multiple platforms at one time. It’s free to use and ideal for podcasters, coaches, teachers, bloggers, reporters, or others who want their livestream to reach people on multiple platforms. It’s quick to set up and easy to use, requiring only minimal technical knowledge. GetVokl also features VCoin, which helps podcasters earn more money by letting people give tips or donations as the livestreaming takes place. To learn more about GetVokl or to download the app, visit the site: https://getvokl.com/.

 To learn more about how VCoin works, watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qroHqQY0IjY&feature=youtu.be.

About GetVokl:
GetVokl is a free livestreaming community platform built for podcasters, livestreamers, and hosts to unleash the potential of their audiences through interactive live shows that inspire and create vibrant communities. GetVokl allows a livestream to be broadcast over multiple social media platforms at one time. Join or create your live video community. To learn more about GetVokl, please visit https://about.getvokl.com.

Leading the Way: Dr. Sean P.J. Whelan, Scientist of the Year
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Dr. Sean P.J. Whelan in a suit and tie in an office setting

In February, NOGLSTP was pleased to announce its 2020 Recognition Awards for LGBTQ+ Scientist, Engineer, Educator, and Organization of the Year. Dr. Sean P.J. Whelan was awarded Scientist of the Year for his outstanding research and groundbreaking discoveries in the field of virology.

Little did we know at the time how important Dr. Whelan would be to the times that we are all living in.  In July of 2019 Dr. Whelan was named head of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and the Marvin A. Brennecke Distinguished Professor of Microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Previously he was the head of the virology program and professor of microbiology and immunobiology at the Harvard Medical School where he still directs a virology Center for Excellence in Translational Research working to find small molecules that prevent viruses form entering or replicating inside cells.

Whelan is thus a significant global leader in advancing the understanding of emerging viral infections. His virology research provides crucial insights into the function and structure of emerging diseases. “Since 1980, there has been a new, emerging infectious disease of humans on average every six months. Almost two-thirds of those agents are enveloped viruses, and the techniques we apply can rapidly provide insight into them,” Whelan said.

His studies focus on how viruses attach to cells, slip inside and hijack our bodies. Dr. Whelan identified the protein that the Ebola virus uses to latch onto cells and also the molecular process that rabies virus uses to invade cells. His research framework especially applies to the recent emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Most approved antiviral drugs target the molecular machinery that viruses use to replicate, but such drugs do not exist for negative-sense RNA viruses, the category to which our current viral nemesis belongs. Understanding the molecular underpinnings of viral invasion and replication provides new targets for the development of antiviral therapeutics.

Whelan is a gay man whose openness has created opportunities to connect, network, and work with other LGBTQ+ scientists. He wants to encourages colleagues to be open and provide examples for students and young scientists. “It is important for LGBTQ students to understand that they may encounter some barriers, but those barriers are not insurmountable, and they can progress and succeed,” Whelan said. We have a hero in our midst who can potentially lead us out of this pandemic. Thank you, Dr. Sean Whelan, for your insights and service in bringing health and safety closer for all of our communities.

About NOGLSTP: The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP) is a membership-based professional society managed by volunteers and a nonprofit educational organization under IRS section 501(c)(3). It was established in 1980 and incorporated in the State of California in 1991. Its mission is to educate the scientific and general communities about the presence and accomplishments of LGBT individuals in STEM professions. NOGLSTP presents educational symposia and workshops nationwide, and fosters dialog with other professional societies, academia and industry to facilitate diversity and inclusion in the workplace. For more information, visit https://www.noglstp.org/. NOGLSTP’s Recognition Awards were established in 2005 as a means to document and honor the contributions of outstanding LGBTQ+ science, engineering, technology, and mathematics professionals. The awards also honor corporations, academic institutions, and businesses that support LGBTQ+ professionals so that their achievements may be known and recognized as role models. The 2020 Recognition Awards were announced during the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA on February 14, 2020. Additional information on past awards are available at:  noglstp.org/programsprojects/recognition-awards

The Man Behind America’s New Spacesuit: Jose Fernandez
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This weekend, and for a while now, new dad of the entertainingly-named little boy, X Æ A-12 Musk, and footloose Twitter aficionado Elon Musk is having one of what he hopes will be a long future of space moments. It’s no small accomplishment to get the nod from NASA bigs that you can carry the most precious asset, their astronauts, up to the big game on the International Space Station, and kudos to Daddy Musk, and to NASA, for that.

But, talk about a cool flight suit: Musk and his deeply pedigreed Hollywood costume designer Jose Fernandez took a couple of years to design the new NASA super-skinny pressure suits. The spacesuits certainly look snazzy, with their close-to-the-body cut, their elegant dark silver (fireproof!) piping over the white Teflon fabric, their highly articulate gloves and neck, and the black knee-high boots that seem to quote the Duke of Wellington’s own below-the-knee cavalry boots, albeit ready for the wear and tear of outer space rather than that of Napoleon’s cannon at Waterloo.

Mr. Fernandez is no stranger to durable, tight-fitting clothes for heroes, having worked on costumes for Batman V Superman: Dawn of JusticeTronIronman 2The Amazing Spiderman, and Captain America: Civil War, to name just a few of his impressive credits. He was first approached by SpaceX in 2016 to participate in a design competition and freely recounts that he didn’t, at first, understand that it was for a real space effort, not a movie production about a space effort, to which he would be submitting his work. “I didn’t know what SpaceX was, and I thought it was a film,” the modest Fernandez says.

Not so the light, ovoid, and very open-to-the-cosmos Fernandez helmet. Fernandez has not simply given his astronauts a better, less obstructed field of vision. The helmet tops a flexible and, for a spacesuit, very extended and articulate neck piece, best seen above on astronaut Doug Hurley, left, as he boards the Tesla on May 27 en route to the spacecraft before the first launch was scrubbed. In fact, some of the old NASA helmets would wholly prevent the astronaut from even contemplating getting his head low enough to get into a car as astronaut Hurley is doing. We’ll get to see Hurley and his partner Bob Behnken do it again on Saturday, and again with the excellent product placement of the Musk-enterprise-friendly Tesla as the new and very cushy official NASA launch-tender ride.

With the visor up, the Fernandez helmet resembles that of a Parisian pompeur , a fireman’s helmet, jaunty and protective at once. Visor down, the sleek ovoid quotes some of Kier Dullea’s very, very cool space headgear that Stanley Kubrick had commissioned for his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. In addition, close viewers of the Grammys and all fans of disco/electronic/dance/trance will notice a strong connection in the NASA helmet to the helmets sported by the ultra-shy French pop duo Daft Punk.

This is no accident: It should be noted that Daft Punk has in fact commissioned the brilliant Fernandez for several pieces of their trademark weird-oh disco-robot headgear. But as a deeply schooled “extreme couture” tailor to all sorts of cinematic superheros and heroines embroiled in narratives whose origins stretch back to the early 20th century, Mr. Fernandez would be well aware of Kubrick’s earlier camera-friendly helmet innovations.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article

Photo: Getty Images

Meet the Woman Behind Space X, President and Engineer Gwynne Shotwell
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Gwynne Shotwell smiling for the camera

This past weekend, the United States made history when Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched the Dragon Crew capsule into space, the first U.S. mission from U.S. soil since 2011. SpaceX is primarily associated with Musk, as he was the founder of the company, but many people don’t know about the company’s president and chief operating officer, Gwynne Shotwell.

Now responsible for SpaceX’s operations and growth, Shotwell has been working with SpaceX since the company was founded in 2002 and was immediately put on the board of directors. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics from Northwestern University and previously worked with The Aerospace Corporation and Microcosm Inc. in El Segundo, California. Wanting to apply her skills in engineering in a hands-on environment, Shotwell worked with The Aerospace Corporation in military space research, technical work, spacecraft design and thermal analysis. She spent much of her time specifically studying small spacecraft design and how to navigate such a spacecraft in and out of the cosmos. She later went on to work Microcosm Inc, a rocket building company, where she oversaw business development.

Having both the skills and knowing the ins and outs of spacecraft and business, Shotwell’s expertise at SpaceX still stands. Under her supervision, SpaceX has launched five billion dollars’ worth of crafts with the Falcon vehicle family and has now become the first privately owned business to send astronauts into space. Additionally, Shotwell recently became a member on the board of directors for Polaris, an automotive vehicle manufacturing company, and serves in many STEM-related programs. Her work in these areas have earned her several awards, including a spot in the 2012 Women in Technology Hall of Fame and as one of Forbes’ Magazine’s Top 50 Women in Tech.

Through all of her successes, it seems as if Shotwell has more large-scale accomplishments to come. As part of a multi-billion dollar deal with NASA, SpaceX will continue to work on a transportation system to take the first humans to Mars.

The First Pharmacy to Add Drones for Delivery
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A drone holding a small UPS package flies in front of a CVS Pharmacy

CVS, in an effort to ensure proper medication is easily available to those who need it the most, has been utilizing in-store pickup, drive through services, and free delivery to distribute their prescriptions. But for the first time in history, in partnership with UPS, one CVS pharmacy will start delivering medication in a new way—by drone.

The Villages, the largest retirement facility in the United States, located in central Florida, will begin receiving their prescription medications from CVS via drone delivery starting in early May and is expected to continue until the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Drone delivery will enable more social distancing of especially susceptible members of the community and decrease the chances of infection on both sides. The drones will only be flying a half-mile distance to a separate location and transported by truck from there.

Though this technology is rarely used presently, this isn’t the first time that drone delivery has been tested. In fact, drone delivery was first utilized by UPS to make deliveries to WakeMed’s flagship campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, and at UC San Diego in California. These deliveries, as well as the ones that will be made in Florida, adhere to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rules and have permission to be utilized during the pandemic.

Deployment of delivery drones during the pandemic could potentially open up to possibilities of drone delivery in the future and among other CVS pharmacies.

To read the full press release, click here

Jim Ryan and the Wheelie 7: A Game Changer for Mobility
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Jim Ryan, male, sitting in his HOOBOX Robotics' Wheelie 7 wheelchair in his living room, smiling for the camera

By Jaeson “Doc” Parsons

The date of March 30th, 2016, will be forever etched into the mind of Jim Ryan. That day, while vacationing in Maui with his wife, Isabelle, a wave struck him in waist deep water, driving him into the sea floor. He surfaced, unconscious and unresponsive. In that split second, Ryan was paralyzed, becoming a quadriplegic from his C4 vertebrae down. In that moment, his life was changed forever.

Ryan is not alone. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, nearly 288,000 people in the United States are living with spinal cord injuries, and there about 17,700 new cases each year.

For those with movement-limiting conditions like Ryan, getting around can exact a terrible toll on quality of life and autonomy. A 2018 study found that physical mobility has the largest impact on quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries. Mobility is often enabled through caregivers or through a motorized wheelchair with complex sensors placed on the body that require special education to operate.

With this in mind, technology company Intel partnered with robotics company Hoobox to create the first-ever artificial intelligence-powered wheelchair that translates facial expressions into freedom of movement.

Using a combination of Intel hardware and software, Hoobox developed ‘The Wheelie’—a wheelchair kit that utilizes facial recognition technology to capture, process, and translate facial expressions into real-time wheelchair commands, finally providing individuals such as Ryan with autonomy, regardless of the physical limitations they’re facing. This system is a kit which can be installed on any motorized wheelchair system and, at under 7 minutes for installation, is relatively easy to implement.

Like many individuals suffering from spinal cord injuries, Ryan was using a conventional motorized system, one that uses a head array to translate gestures into movement.

“Before the Wheelie I drove my wheelchair with the head array. It is like a horseshoe around my head with five buttons that I used to turn left, right, forward, back, and change modes,” Ryan said. “Because of the head array, I am unable to look left and right. Nor can I wear hats of virtually any type. The hats get in the way of my buttons.”

Hoobox saw this limitation and found a way through it. By incorporating AI and a camera, the Wheelie 7 operates without invasive body sensors, providing users with independence and control over their location. It translates 11 different facial expressions into wheelchair commands in real time with 99.9% accuracy. And its performance improves over time as the algorithm learns to recognize the user’s expressions, allowing for increased freedom of movement.

“The Wheelie allows me to turn my head left and right and wear any hat I want,” said Ryan, who was introduced to Hoobox’s Wheelie through a group in Vancouver. He is one of more than 60 individuals who are testing the new technology to help Hoobox developers understand their needs and requirements.

Since being introduced to the Wheelie 7, Ryan has improved not just his mobility, but his lifestyle as well.

“I now can look left and right, up and down. I can wear a sun hat or baseball hat in the summer and nice winter hat or hoodie in the winter,” he said.

As technology continues its march forward with advances in AI systems, the limitations on mobility for those suffering from debilitating injuries like Ryan are beginning to see a transformation.

Wheelie 7 is a game changer in improving access to mobility solutions for those with conditions resulting from nearly 500,000 spinal cord injuries per year. But through continued research and development by companies such as Intel and Hoobox, and with the help of individuals such as Ryan, mobility is becoming a reality.

“For a person like me it gives a tremendous amount of freedom,” he said. “By using facial expressions instead of head movements, the Wheelie allows me more freedom and comfort in my wheelchair. And for anyone else with limited movement like me, it can be at true asset.”

General Atomics and Its Affiliates Unite in Fight Against COVID-19
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face shields in boxes

As the U.S. and the world take on the challenge of combating the novel coronavirus, General Atomics (GA) and its affiliates are leveraging their expertise in manufacturing and innovation to meet the urgent needs of our communities.

At GA facilities in San Diego and across the country, test kit development, 3D printing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ventilator component manufacturing are underway to assist in the fight against COVID-19 at a local, state and national level.

 

  • GA, Diazyme is offering a COVID-19 Antibody test from blood draws (serum or plasma). Under the FDA’s policy for Public Health Emergency for COVID-19, Diazyme utilized the notification process as outlined in Section IVD of the policy and is now listed on the FDA’s FAQ site dedicated to serological (Antibody) testing. The Diazyme’s sensitive test is run on a fully-automated Diazyme DZ-Lite 3000 chemiluminescence analyzer. Diazyme is already working with multiple clinical laboratories around the country, including the UCSD Medical Center to perform these serological tests. Serological tests are not for sole diagnosis of the COVID-19 disease but are valuable in understanding community spread of the disease.
  • Diazyme has also notified the FDA of a rapid COVID-19 Antibody test. This point-of-care test requires only a single drop of blood and provides results within 10-15 minutes. Rapid tests tend to be less sensitive than the lab run tests but are easy to use and can be performed at the point-of-care (doctor’s office, community clinics) and is useful in identifying people who may have been exposed to COVID-19, as well as those who have already recovered, but were unaware that they had been infected.
  • More information about Diazyme’s tests including regulatory statutory statements can be found at http://www.diazyme.com/dz-lite-sars-cov-2
  • GA, Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) group is pursuing component manufacturing and integration services to help scale up production of ventilators. With extensive manufacturing facilities located across the U.S., GA-EMS provides a convenient, US-sourced option to help companies rapidly increase their production capacity to meet the high demand for critical medical equipment. GA-EMS has also tested their first generation mechanized bag valve mask. The system would fit into a backpack and could replace human interaction with the bag enabling more controlled and repeatable tides for infants, children and adults.
  • GA-EMS, GA-Energy group, and GA-ASI adapted their prototyping and production capacities to produce 3D-printed face shields to meet local demand for PPE. Since late March, the joint team has manufactured and shipped over 5,000 face shields in the greater San Diego area and across the nation.
  • GA-EMS is accelerating the development schedule of its MATCHBOX™ Point-of-Care molecular diagnostic platform responding to the growing need for COVID-19 testing. MATCHBOX is expected to have the capability to test and diagnose for a wide range of known respiratory infections, including COVID-19, within 30-60 minutes using a single patient sample using a portable point-of-care instrument.

“The health, safety and well-being of our employees and our communities at large is a top priority for GA,” said Neal Blue, GA Chairman and CEO. “GA has been delivering solutions in support of public health for decades, and with so many in need during this unprecedented time, we have concentrated our collective efforts to address the current pandemic. I salute colleagues as they continue to innovate and look for creative solutions to the current crisis.”

About General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems

General Atomics pioneers in the development of transformational technologies. Since the dawn of the atomic age, GA’s innovations have advanced the state of the art across the full spectrum of science and technology – from nuclear energy and defense to medicine and high-performance computing. Behind a talented global team of scientists, engineers, and professionals, GA delivers safe, sustainable, and economical solutions to meet growing global demands. www.ga.com.

Richard Tapia: Excellence Comes in All Flavors
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Richard Tapia standing at a podium, giving a speech

Diversity in STEAM Magazine was proud to attend last year’s ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference, a premier event that brought together students, faculty, researchers and professionals from all backgrounds and ethnicities in computing.

The theme of last year’s conference in San Diego – “Diversity: Building a Stronger Future.”

The event, sponsored by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and presented by the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT), is named in honor of renowned computational and mathematical scientist Dr. Richard Tapia, an esteemed mathematician and professor in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Among his many honors, Tapia was the first Hispanic elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 2011, he received the National Medal of Science from former U.S. President Barack Obama for his pioneering and fundamental contributions in optimization theory and numerical analysis.

“I get a lot of awards and I appreciate them all,” Tapia said. “But I want people to know I have a professional life in science. I want to be known as a scientist.”

The aim of the Tapia Conference is to promote diversity among undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, researchers and professionals in computing from all backgrounds and ethnicities. Last year’s panel of impressive keynote speakers included Stephanie Lampkin, founder and CEO, Blendor, Hector Ruiz, founder and chairman, Advanced Nanotechnology, Inc. and Jennifer Mankoff, Richard E. Ladner professor, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington.

Tapia said he gets great satisfaction from seeing students who attend the conference inspired by others who, “look just like themselves.”

“My legacy has historically been to bring black, brown, all people together,” he said. “To show people that excellence comes in all flavors.”

Each year, the Richard A. Tapia Award is given annually to an individual who is a distinguished computational or computer scientist or engineer who is making significant contributions in civic areas such as teaching, mentoring, advising, and building and serving communities. The individual is also one who demonstrates extraordinary leadership in increasing the participation of groups who are underrepresented in the sciences.

Last year’s award went to Cristina Villalobos, a Myles and Sylvia Aaronson professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, as well as the founding director of the Center of Excellence in STEM Education.

“Cristina Villalobos is a leading mathematician in the fields of optimization, optimal control and modelling,” said Valerie Taylor, CMD-IT CEO and president. “Throughout her career, she has significantly impacted different application areas through her research in optimization–impacting areas such as the treatment of eye disease and the design of antennas.

In addition, Villalobos has strengthened STEM academic programs and been a leader in student mentoring–increasing the number of Hispanic students pursuing PhD’s in mathematics.”

Deeply honored to receive the award, Villalobos said, “It recognizes my efforts in working with students over the years to prepare them for graduate studies in STEM, and especially in contributing to increasing the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities in graduate programs and in academia.”

During his time at Rice University, Tapia has directed or co-directed more underrepresented minority and women doctoral recipients in science and engineering than anyone in the country. He insists he was just able to help where help was needed. “My mother always used to say, ‘One step at a time will take you to a good place underneath the rainbow.’”

Source: CMD-IT, utrgv.edu/newsroom

This Town Is Already Getting Deliveries By Drones
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Drone carrying first aid package

In Christiansburg, Virginia, deliveries by drones are not only being studied but also implemented for the town’s citizens amid social distancing due to COVID-19.

The deliveries technically began in October, when a drone nicknamed “Wing” carried a fleece vest for the last two miles of the item’s delivery route. This marked “Wing” as the first drone to ever carry out this kind of delivery in the United States. Ever since this incident, the drone has continued to deliver packages over short distances, especially during this time of social distancing.

Besides Christiansburg, drone deliveries have only been officially tested in areas of Finland and Australia, as researchers are still looking into the mechanics of using drones for everyday deliveries. All of the towns conducting tests, including Christiansburg, have a flat topography and relatively small populations, making them ideal spots to test drone delivery without geographic or social interruption from largely populated cities. Virginia Tech, the home to an unnamed drone research department, also resides in close proximity to Christiansburg, as to closely study the effects of drone delivery.

While drone delivery has so far proved successful, it does have its controversies. For one, the delivery drones would not be able to deliver any item, having a weight limit of about three pounds. Drones must also pass the test of public perception as tests try to seek the normalization of drone delivery by everyone. Regardless, “Wing” and its correspondents have already partnered with  major companies, such as Walgreens and FedEx, to deliver essential items, and the search has already begun for more testing sites across the United States.

Natalie Rodgers
Diversity in STEAM Magazine contributing writer

From A Simple Swab To A Simple Sniff—How dogs are being trained to detect COVID-19
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dogs face close up

Especially for the elderly and to those with compromised immune systems, coronavirus testing kits are critical to treating the virus at an early stage. The current test is excellent at its job but is limited to and inaccessible to many people around the world—not to mention it’s uncomfortable. But what if there were an easier way?

Many scientific journals have proposed each disease has its own distinct scent. Many dogs have been used in the past to detect different types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and bacterial ailments. That is why the organization Medical Detection Dogs, located in the United Kingdom, have begun trials with medical professionals to see if dogs can sniff out the coronavirus’ scent.

The hope is that dogs will pick up on COVID-19’s scent among large crowds and detect those carrying the virus. This procedure would not only be more comfortable than current testing but could also cover more ground and be less invasive.

Should these dogs be successful, Professor Steve Lindsay of Durham University believes that, “…we could use COVID-19 detection dogs at airports at the end of the epidemic to rapidly identify people carrying the virus. This would help prevent the re-emergence of the disease after we have brought the present epidemic under control.”

Natalie Rodgers
Diversity in STEAM Magazine contributing writer

DISM BLM

Thank you essential workers

thank you essential workers
 
*Please be sure to check event websites for latest updates on postponements or cancellations due to COVID-19 precautions.