On Friday, January 31, UNC Charlotte’s College of Computing and Informatics (CCI) hosted a multidisciplinary forum to discuss and answer questions about Coronaviruses. In response to concerns, and even misinformation, about the situation playing out in Wuhan, China (and beyond), CCI used its weekly Graduate Student Seminar as the platform for this unique discussion of a current world event.
Attended by CCI’s Ph.D . and Master’s candidates, as well as faculty, staff and others from the community interested in the topic, the session focused primarily on the science of contagion. With representation from CCI, the College of Education (CoE), the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), panelists brought a wide-range of perspectives and expertise to the discussion.
The forum opened with Dr. Dan Du (CLAS – History) providing a brief overview of the Wuhan region, its population, industry and significance as a national travel hub. From there, the panelists answered questions submitted electronically by attendees. Those questions included:
• When a city is quarantined, what happens to its industry, movement of goods/services/medicine/supplies?
• How can bioinformatics/computer science be used to prevent future outbreaks like this one?
• What simulation tools are there to predict the pattern and speed with which the virus will spread?
• What can we -researchers- do to help?
• How much of the panic is related to salacious media reports and how much can be attributed to our lack of education when it comes to contagion?
• How did the virus come about exactly? I heard it originated from a market and was originally from animals. How did it make the leap to humans?
• How does this compare to influenza? CDC 2017-18 data shows 61,000+ died in the US from flu-related illnesses.
Because the forum was a success, CCI may consider hosting future multidisciplinary discussions.
Dr. Dan Janies - Bioinformatics and Genomics
Dr. Ian Binns - College of Education
Dr. Min Jiang - Communication and International Studies
Ms. Elizabeth von Briesen - PhD Candidate; Agent-Based Contagion Modeling
Dr. Dan Du - Department of History
Dr. Patrick Robinson, MD - College of Health and Human Services