Two faculty members in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Iowa have received a $200,000 1-year grant from the National Science Foundation to study how droplets containing viruses dry on solid surfaces. COVID-19 spreads primarily by inhaling viruses suspended in aerosol form or by touching surfaces on which virus-laden droplets have deposited.
This work will deliver knowledge to answer this question: how does the survivability of viruses inside droplets depend on surfaces and across seasons?
H.S. Udaykumar, professor of mechanical engineering and interim associate dean for graduate programs and research, and Hongtao Ding, associate professor of mechanical engineering, will work with their post-doctoral associates, Avik Samanta and Pradeep Seshadri, performing modeling and simulation work in tandem to reveal what types of seasonal conditions and surface modifications will contribute to diminished survival of viruses within droplets. By bringing together engineers and biomedical scientists with expertise in viral infections, the project will seek new insights and knowledge to improve our ability to combat the spread of COVID-19.