As the number of cases of COVID-19 surge again globally as a result of the delta variant, world leaders are searching for ways to make more informed decisions on how to contain the pandemic. Researchers at UC Merced and Michigan State University (MSU) know what can provide early signs of the virus and help with critical decisions — sewage.
Shortly before the fall semester kicked off in person, 11 students were wrapping up their first summer on campus as part of the FACTS summer bridge program.
FACTS stands for San Joaquin Valley Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics Tools and Science. The six-week summer course, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture, introduces students to the world of research in agricultural science and technology.
While many are preparing to head off to college after an unprecedented year, a handful of students are already on UC Merced’s campus and working away in research labs. They’re part of the inaugural FACTS Bridge Program, a way for first-year and transfer students to get a head start on research and more.
California is known for its beautiful coastline, where the Pacific Ocean meets sandy beaches and rugged cliffs. While many scientists have studied the land or the ocean independently, less is known about the nexus of the two.
Campus Wastewater Testing Offers COVID-19 Early Warning System, Establishes Protocols for the Future
COVID-19 upended life as we know it, especially among the science community. While some scientists rushed to develop a vaccine, others sought a better understanding of the virus, hoping to predict where the next outbreak might be in order to better contain it. At UC Merced, this included testing the campus’s wastewater.
UC Merced’s campus has many buildings, but just one pipe through which wastewater leaves the campus. This turned out to be helpful to discern whether there would be forthcoming positive COVID-19 test results.
With COVID-19 protections lifting, many people are eager to travel again. Among them is graduate student Elena Bischak, who is planning multiple trips to Haiti in the coming months to study improving sanitation and human waste processing in the Caribbean country.
Half a world away from California’s Central Valley is a place with similar climate but an unparalleled diversity of plants, marine animals and ecosystems. From deserts to shrubland to montane forests, the diversity of life in South Africa’s Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) is the subject of NASA’s first biodiversity campaign led by UC Merced Professor Erin Hestir.
You can’t avoid seeing grazing cattle in California’s Central Valley, where UC Merced has its own pastured cows on campus. Now imagine if those cows were kept secluded without the use of a fence, or at least not one visible to the eye.
After the COVID-19 pandemic struck, scientists across the globe realized they could track the virus by testing sewage water. School of Engineering Professor Colleen Naughton pioneered a dashboard to host the global findings.
One way Naughton finds who and where wastewater research is being performed? Twitter.