How do you chase a virus? By looking for clues, says Utah State University biological engineer Keith Roper.
In early 2020, as Utah leaders scrambled to respond to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic, Roper, head of USU’s Department of Biological Engineering, helped to lead a statewide pilot study confirming the SARS-CoV-2 virus could be detected in wastewater. His efforts have aided community, public health and university officials in tracking infection rates and trends.
Roper presents “An In-COVID-ient Sleuth: Lifting Viral Fingerprints from Water and Air” at USU’s Science Unwrapped Friday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Emert Auditorium, Room ESLC 130, of the Eccles Science Learning Center on campus. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.
“Analyzing wastewater to monitor an infectious disease was implemented previously to monitor the polio virus,” Roper said. “This is the first time, however, that wastewater monitoring has been performed using modern technologies at a broad scale during a pandemic.”
Roper’s Nov. 12 talk will also be livestreamed via AggieCast from the Science Unwrapped website, and will be recorded and posted to the same website for continued viewing convenience.
Guests at the in-person event are encouraged to wear masks and to observe socially distanced seating in the Emert Auditorium.
Due to continuing pandemic conditions, Science Unwrapped is not currently offering in-person learning activities following the talk.
“As we did during our 2020-21 series, we’re offering video learning activities, created by our student and community volunteer groups, on our website,” said Greg Podgorski, associate dean for undergraduate studies and services in the College of Science and Science Unwrapped chair. “Each month, we’ll assess conditions to determine whether or not it’s safe and possible to return to in-person, post-talk learning activities.”
The continuing schedule for Science Unwrapped’s 2021-22 “Science on the Horizon” series is:
Friday, Nov. 12: “An In-COVID-ient Sleuth: Lifting Viral Fingerprints from Water and Air,” Keith Roper, biological engineer
Friday, Jan. 28: “Hard Choices: Being a Robot in a Human World,” Mario Harper, computer scientist
Friday, Feb. 25: “From Animals to Autism: The Science of Social Bonds,” Sara Freeman, neuroendocrinologist
Friday, March 18: “What Goes Up, Must Come Down: Cleaning Up the Atmosphere with Geology,” Katie Potter, geoscientist
Friday, April 1: “Electric Avenues: Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification (ASPIRE), Regan Zane, electrical engineer
Public Relations Specialist
College of Science
Associate Dean for Undergraduates, Science Unwrapped Chair
College of Science