Students and faculty conduct COVID-19 research during pandemic 

Students and faculty in The University of Tulsa’s College of Engineering and Natural Sciences are doing their part to combat COVID-19 by calling upon the skills and innovative ideas they practice in daily life. The world is struggling to control the pandemic, but the TU community’s resilience shines through when members band together to support health care workers. 

COVID-19 Research

Chapman Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Robert Sheaff and Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Syed Hussaini are working on two COVID-19 projects.  

  1. Development of a novel test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus. This project will provide a faster and more economical method for the detection of the virus. It is based on a standard biological readout system, which will be modified chemically to provide an assay in which light emission will be used to detect the presence of the virus.
  2. Evaluation of chloroquine’s biological effects on human cells. The second project will evaluate the effect of chloroquine and its synthetic analogs on human cells. The aim is to contribute to the biochemical understanding of how chloroquine works as a treatment for COVID-19 and to find chemical analogs of chloroquine with increased efficacy and reduced side effects. 

Surgical mask straps 

covid-19 researchMechanical engineering student Tom Rendon has been printing surgical mask straps to give to people who wear the masks for lengthy periods of time, as well as hospital workers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The straps keep the elastic off the ears and allow the user to adjust the tension of the elastic. He added a little local branding to them as a way of encouraging and supporting local communities. 

Currently, Rendon has printed around 200 of the straps and hopes to give away more in the future. Each strap takes around 30-40 minutes to print. 

PPE Donations

covid-19 researchThe Department of Chemistry gathered the following personal protective equipment (PPE) items to donate to Ascension St. John Medical Center in March: 

  • 8 50-packs of surgical face masks  
  • 54 cases of Fisher Scientific nitrile exam gloves  
  • 5 boxes of safety goggles (36 count in each box)  

The TU Hurricane Health Clinic gave 23 boxes of nitrile gloves, disposable gowns, hand sanitizer and face masks to Saint Francis Health System; and TU’s School of Nursing in the Oxley College of Health Sciences delivered the following PPE to Hillcrest Medical Center: 

  • 70 disposable isolation gowns  
  • 4 full boxes and 2 partial boxes of surgical masks  
  • 9 N-95 masks  
  • 15 face shield masks  
  • 1,150 pairs of nitrile exam gloves  
  • 500 pairs of stretch vinyl gloves  

The Russell School of Chemical Engineering and TU’s athletic training program also donated gloves to Saint Francis. 

Face shields

COVID-19 researchMechanical engineering senior Jacob Martinez partnered with Tulsa’s medical community to help make face shields for local hospital workers. Using a laser cutter in Stephenson Hall’s Projects Lab, he cut the plastic pieces that attach to the clear shield, which were then packed in kits and sent to hospitals. The latest batch was sent to Saint Francis Health System.