The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Center for Innovation, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship awarded the grants after reviewing 28 submissions from a variety of UA researchers. The winning proposals will be funded with support from the Office of Naval Research.
“The number and quality of proposals far exceeded the review committee’s expectations,” said Mark Billingsley, the intellectual property and contracts director at Center ICE. “We’ve been inspired by the university community’s innovative ideas and motivation to help fight COVID-19.”
UAF computer science associate professor Orion Lawlor and a team of his students will use 3D printing technologies to provide equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team has already worked to create replacement pieces for air respirators at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, bringing new life to equipment that is broken or has incompatible parts. Lawlor’s team received a grant for about $9,000.
University of Alaska Southeast postdoctoral researcher John Harley is developing a model to better identify and communicate Alaska community risk factors for COVID-19. The model will include factors unique to Alaska, including the vast size of census areas, small remote communities, and limited access to health care services. Harley received a grant for about $5,000.
UAF engineer Ken Arnoult is leading the design of a system to filter the exhaled air from patients on nebulizer treatments. Removing virus-laden aerosols from exhalations reduces risk to medical personal, particularly in enclosed settings like ambulances. Arnoult received a $20,000 grant.
Jeffrey Rothman, a research engineer at UAF’s Geophysical Institute, is leading a team that will design and fabricate disinfection devices for N-95 filtered facial respirators. The devices will use a new technique to apply ultraviolet radiation to used respirators, disinfecting as many as 7,200 per day. A shortage of respirators has been an ongoing challenge for hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. Rothman’s team received a $30,000 grant.
Billingsley said the projects were selected to provide rapid support to COVID-19 response and should be ready to deliver as soon as early May.