COVID-19 Research from the College of Design

June 22, 2022
Man on a subway wearing a beanie, headphones, and a protective mask

Researchers from the University of Oregon jumped on the opportunity to study COVID-19 and the implications it could have on the present and the future. Many from the College of Design did their part to ensure that lessons would be learned from the current pandemic so that in the future, we as a society may be more prepared.

Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, director of the Institute for Health in the Built Environment, and his team began researching how buildings and indoor environments can impact human health. His team’s findings allowed them to create guidelines for designing buildings that lessen the risk of spreading diseases now and in the future. In one of Van Den Wymelenberg’s studies, participants ate peppermints while the air around them was continuously monitored for an hour. The results showed that social distancing is important in short interactions, but the particulates spread much further than the recommended six-foot distance. This also showed that in spaces where prolonged exposure to others is impossible to avoid, other factors such as mask-wearing, ventilation, and filtration are necessary to stop the spread of airborne diseases.

Another study by Bob Parker and Ben Clark of the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management’s Institute for Policy Research and Engagement (IPRE) surveyed Oregonians’ attitudes towards masking, vaccinations, and getting tested. Their surveys revealed that there were more factors at play about masking and vaccine hesitancy than just politics, though it did play a large role. The science surrounding something new such as COVID-19 is constantly evolving as we learn more and more. When that science “changes,” some find the changes to be unsettling.

There are many more stories across the College of Design and the university as a whole of researchers working hard to study the physical, mental, and societal effects of COVID-19. To learn more about the two mentioned above as well as a couple more studies, click the following link.