Research News

Research during COVID-19

COVID-19 2019 Novel Coronavirus - Updates, FAQs, Resources

U of G Food Science Technology Adapted for N95 Mask Sanitization

A man wearing protective gear standing in front a silver Clean Flow unit.

By Caitlin Ford and Dianne Priamo 

A University of Guelph project has adapted food science technology to fight COVID-19. 

Dr. Keith Warriner, a food science professor in the Ontario Agricultural College, along with post-doctoral fellow Mahdiyeh Hasani and research assistant Fan Wu, adapted Clean Flow technology – developed as a fruit and vegetable surface-cleaning appliance – at the beginning of the pandemic to sanitize personal protective equipment (PPE) amid hospital N95 mask shortages. 

“Our technology ticks all the boxes on what constitutes...

Read more: U of G Food Science Technology Adapted for N95 Mask Sanitization

Understanding Canadians’ Perceptions of COVID Vaccines Can Promote Better Policy Decisions

A woman talking to a nurse in a doctor's office after getting a vaccine.

By Otaiba Ahsan

In a new study about public perceptions of vaccines, University of Guelph researchers hope to help improve decisions of Canadian policy makers and ultimately improve trust in COVID-19 vaccination programs.

The two-year project, begun early in the pandemic, has collected data through surveys and phone interviews to determine public concerns about COVID-19 vaccines.

“The understandings gleaned from this research will inform and guide Canadian policy makers and public health agents in how best to address concerns about vaccines...

Read more: Understanding Canadians’ Perceptions of COVID Vaccines Can Promote Better Policy Decisions

Interactive Improvisation in Times of Isolation

A collage of seven photos. On the left, a woman playing with a guitar; a man reading a book; and someone playing a cello. In the middle, a woman's skirt and feet. On the right, a shadow on the ground; a snake on a yoga mat; and the sunset on trees.

By Caitlin Ford

Countering pandemic isolation by bringing together musicians and the sounds of nature was the goal of a recent virtual improvisation project by University of Guelph researchers. 

The project, which began in July 2020, was led by Dr. James Harley, professor in the School of Fine Art and Music, and project assistant Ann Westbere. They invited seven student-musicians to perform improvised pieces in short video clips. The improvisations were developed in response to recordings of environmental sounds such as birds chirping, water flowing...

Read more: Interactive Improvisation in Times of Isolation

Study Shows Pandemic Public Health Measures May Have Targeted the Wrong Groups During the Virus' Second Wave

A woman wearing a mask and typing on a laptop

By Cate Willis

A new University of Guelph study shows that social contacts remained low during the fall of 2020, but work-related contacts increased dramatically.

The study, published in BMC Public Health and led by Dr. Amy Greer, an associate professor in the Department of Population Medicine...

Read more: Study Shows Pandemic Public Health Measures May Have Targeted the Wrong Groups During the Virus' Second Wave

U of G Researchers Develop Technology to Monitor Physical Distancing in Crowds

mages of crowds on the left and corresponding crowd density maps on the right

Input images (left) and corresponding crowd density maps (right)

By Caitlin Ford

Enforcing physical distancing in public spaces requires time, money and trained personnel. To mitigate these barriers, a new COVID-19 research project by School of Computer Science professor, Dr. Minglun Gong, explores automated crowd counting as an alternative. Read more in this article written by SPARK writer Caitlin Ford...

Read more: U of G Researchers Develop Technology to Monitor Physical Distancing in Crowds

U of G Researchers Develop Plant-Based Masks to Replace Disposables

A professor and a grad student displaying the mask filter material

Food science professor Dr. Loong-Tak Lim (left) and graduate student Singam Suranjoy Singh display the mask filter material.

By Caitlin Ford

To combat the environmental concerns surrounding traditional disposable masks, University of Guelph professor Dr. Loong-Tak Lim has created a new biodegradable mask filter. This mask insert can filter out small particles like viruses and pathogens. Read more about his non-woven electrospun design in this SPARK article written by Caitlin Ford...

Read more: U of G Researchers Develop Plant-Based Masks to Replace Disposables

No Waffling Around for Student Start-up Business

A plate of pumpkin spice waffles with a hand cutting into them with a knife

The Happy Era's pumpkin spice waffle

Nourishing waffles are the focus of a new start-up business launched out of the University of Guelph entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Domenique Mastronardi founded The Happy Era, an online waffle delivery business, while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in biological engineering at U of G. She came up with the business idea while creating a sustainable product for a bioprocessing engineering course. 

She drew on her passion for healthy eating. 

“I’m really sensitive to how my mood and productivity change, and I know this relies heavily on how I take...

Read more: No Waffling Around for Student Start-up Business

A Shot in the Dark: Theatre group creates pandemic-themed radio play

The promotional poster for A Shot in the Dark

Radio play promotional poster by Sydney Perkins

By Caitlin Ford

Students in the University of Guelph’s theatre studies program collaborated virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic to bring a pandemic-themed comedy, A Shot in the Dark, to life as a radio play.

The fourth-year ensemble students – who were led by Dr. Peter Kuling, an assistant professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies – were in rehearsals for their final performance when Ontario first entered lockdown in March 2020.

“The students were preparing for their end-of-semester production of George F. Walker’s ...

Read more: A Shot in the Dark: Theatre group creates pandemic-themed radio play

Enhancing molecular pharming to accelerate drug production

Dozens of tobacco plants in small containers

Photo Credit: Nicholas Prudhomme

By Mya Kidson

Harnessing plants to make useful drugs, such as therapies for the COVID-19-causing virus, is a University of Guelph research goal. 

Dr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister, a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB), and her research team are looking for ways to improve molecular pharming practices to make therapeutic products, including vaccines and medications.

Molecular pharming involves the process of deliberately modifying DNA in a bacterium, which is then used to infect a plant by transferring its DNA. This...

Read more: Enhancing molecular pharming to accelerate drug production