Purdue University

COVID-19 Research

Faculty Affiliate Research on COVID-19

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic over one year ago, Purdue and our affiliated faculty have been taking giant leaps and consistently contributing to local, state, national and international responses to the pandemic in areas ranging from analyzing airflow on airplanes to establishing pathways for conducting and processing tests for the virus.

In several areas specific to the environment, affiliates in both the Center for the Environment and the Purdue Climate Change Research Center have made important contributions to Purdue’s response in areas ranging from water and food safety to implications of the pandemic for climate change, food chains and agricultural practices.

On this page, we will continue to highlight and update the critical work being done by our affiliates on the ongoing global pandemic. If you are a Center affiliate who is currently focusing research of any kind on COVID-19, please let us know by emailing Lynne Dahmen.

Engaging Safely With our Surroundings

From opening up our campus buildings, to cleaning our homes, and to preparing to jump into our pools and lakes for the first time, affiliates of the Center for the Environment have been on hand on local and national levels to provide guidance, appease jitters and help us all adapt to our ‘new normal’ for summer 2020 and beyond. Continue Reading.

Farmers, Agriculture, and Impacts on our Food Supply

After being concerned about having household disinfectants, paper towels and toilet paper on hand, many Americans worried about our food supply and related food production and distribution chains. Center affiliates have been contributing to this conversation through individual and group engagement through various publication outlets and new research projects. Continue Reading.

Data Science, Human Behavior, and Improving Responses to COVID-19

COVID-19 loves densely populated spaces. As we have seen in situations such as Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, beach parties in Miami, and even large funerals in Williamsburg, New York, peoples’ behaviors provide keys to how governments and policy makers might need to suggest, regulate or even mandate public movement and behavior to mitigate virus transmission. Continue Reading.

The Future of Sustainable Travel

For most of us, it has been several months since we’ve traveled anywhere, and though we may be eagerly anticipating our next trip, that travel likely won’t look the same. Jonathon Day, Center affiliate and Associate Professor of HTM has weighed in on the topic of sustainable tourism and what the travel industry may expect in upcoming months. Continue Reading.

From Cows to People: New Testing Options for COVID-19

When you think of COVID-19, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t cows. However, that’s exactly the link that Center affiliate and Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering Mohit Verma is exploring to try and increase testing abilities for the novel Coronavirus. Continue Reading.

Cues for Ethnographers in a Pandemic-Altered World

The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently altered many aspects of everyday life for people and cultures around the world. This fact presents some particularly unique challenges for those in the field of Ethnography. Assistant professor of Anthropology and Center affiliate within the Building Sustainable Communities Signature Research Area Jennifer Lee Johnson along with Alder Keleman Saxena, Assistant Research Professor of Anthropology at Northern Arizona University, have developed a series of “cues” to be considered by ethnographers in a world undergoing numerous significant transformations. Read the article.


Purdue Climate Change Research Center Weighs In: Is This the Perfect Time, or the Worst Time, to Bend the Climate Change Curve?

Countries, states, and communities around the world are rightly focused on the urgent task of minimizing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and thinking about how to plan for an economic recovery—but what are the implications for efforts to address the climate change crisis? Here are 6 takeaways from a conversation with experts from Purdue University, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and republicEn (Energy & Enterprise Initiative). Continue Reading.

Water Quality Concerns after Extended Periods of Shutdown


Recently, Andrew Whelton, C4E affiliate and associate professor of civil, environmental, and ecological engineering, was able to test over 1,000 water samples from Milton-Union Schools in Ohio after contamination was suspected following a prolonged shutdown due to COVID-19. Whelton's tests revealed the presence of Legionella bacteria in the water. Continue Reading.

COVID Lessons Applied to Forestry, Climate Change

julia-spina-b8GZxoHN2G8-unsplash.jpgMany of the countries that successfully curbed their COVID-19 infection rates did so through the open sharing of vast amounts of data that allowed health officials to inform the public and distribute medical resources. It’s a model that officials from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) believe can also slow the world’s deforestation, forest degradation and climate change. Global data sharing comes with significant challenges, but FAO technical experts and Purdue University’s Jingjing Liang believe international collaboration can provide a roadmap to overcome them. Continue Reading.

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grants Announced

The project Technological Transitions in the US Local Food System in Response to Covid-19, led by Purdue's Andrew Flachs, was just announced as a Fall 2020 awardee of a Social Science Research Council's Just Tech Program's Covid-19 Rapid-Response grant. This project asks how local food producers and distributors are using emerging digital technologies to connect with consumers and manage farm labor in ways that will have consequences for agricultural sustainability, surveillance capitalism, rural labor, and access to fresh and healthy food in the post-coronavirus era. Continue Reading.

Study: Female Faculty and Caretakers Disproportionately Impacted by COVID-19

The study, “Impacts of COVID‐19 on ecology and evolutionary biology faculty in the United States,” was recently published in the scientific journal Ecological Applications and highlights some interesting findings. It was conducted by three researchers: Dr. Lise Aubry, a Colorado State University (CSU) assistant professor in the department of fish, wildlife and conservation biology; Dr. Zhao Ma, a Purdue University professor of natural resource social science; and Dr. Theresa M. Laverty, a post-doctoral fellow in the CSU department of fish, wildlife and conservation biology.

Turn off that camera during virtual meetings, environmental study says

A new study says that despite a record drop in global carbon emissions in 2020, a pandemic-driven shift to remote work and more at-home entertainment still presents significant environmental impact due to how internet data is stored and transferred around the world. Just one hour of videoconferencing or streaming, for example, emits 150-1,000 grams of carbon dioxide (a gallon of gasoline burned from a car emits about 8,887 grams), requires 2-12 liters of water and demands a land area adding up to about the size of an iPad Mini. Continue Reading.

Virtualizing Soil Science Field Trips

In response to the coronavirus pandemic in the fall of 2020, a group of faculty from Purdue University created hybrid‐virtual or fully virtual field trips to replace in‐person field trips in two university courses. You can read the abstract of their findings here.

Center Affiliates Offering Their Expertise on the Pandemic

New York Times

Tourism, which grew faster than the global gross domestic product for the past nine years, has been decimated by the pandemic. Once accounting for 10 percent of employment worldwide, the sector is poised to shed 121 million jobs, with losses projected at a minimum of $3.4 trillion, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. But in the lull, some in the tourism industry are planning for a post-vaccine return to travel that’s better than it was before March 2020 — greener, smarter and less crowded. Continue Reading.

Hand Sanitizers with the Wrong Ingredient Can Be Deadly

The Healthy

Just as the number of Covid-19 cases is ticking up, the number of potentially dangerous hand sanitizers is rising. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now lists 163 products as unsafe because they contain toxic substances such as methanol. That’s up from 149 just a week ago, which is when the agency also added 1-propanol to the roster of potentially harmful substances in some sanitizing products. Continue Reading.

Wildfires can leave toxic drinking water behind – here’s how to protect the public

The Conversation

Less than halfway through the 2020 wildfire season, fires are burning large swaths of the western U.S. As in previous years, these disasters have entered populated areas, damaging drinking water networks. Water systems have lost pressure, potentially sucking in pollutants, and several utilities are warning of possible and confirmed chemical contamination. Continue Reading.

Climate Change Impacts and COVID-19 explored by affiliates of both PCCRC and the Center for the Environment

We’ve all seen the headlines. Clear canals in Venice. Feral boars reclaiming southern European towns. Deering making use of a crosswalk in Japan. Smog filled cities suddenly clear, emancipated from chronic pollution. And anecdotal accounts are everywhere that the global slowdown due to COVID-19 is giving nature and the environment a chance to heal--to a point. Continue Reading.

What the Coronavirus Can Teach Us About Fighting Climate Change

Washington Post

To many experts, the coronavirus pandemic — and the United States’ inability to contain it — has felt like the climate crisis “at warp speed,” in the words of ecologist Jeff Dukes. Both disasters were predicted by scientists and could have been prevented, or at least mitigated, by swift and early action. Both the disease and the dangerous effects of global warming have exposed and exacerbated the fractures in our society, hitting hardest in the country’s most marginalized communities. Continue Reading.

COVID's Next Casualty Could be Your Cup of Coffee

Purdue Agriculture News

Coffee leaves are covered in coffee leaf rust, a fungal pathogen that leads to defoliation and reduced yields. Without proper management, coffee leaf rust can spread quickly and threaten coffee crops around the world, warns Purdue University mycologist Catherine Aime. Continue Reading.