UO launches 'Voices of Innovation and Impact' speaker series

Scene showing virus transmission

A speaker series kicking off this week will highlight the real-world impact of the UO’s innovative approach to solving some of the world’s biggest problems, beginning with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virtual event series, “Voices of Impact and Innovation,” will let faculty members showcase their work with UO’s community in a Zoom setting, including an interactive Q&A. The talks are hosted by the Office of the Provost and open to anyone who registers.

“If the world ever needed an affirmation of the critical importance of research in society, we are seeing that play out with particular clarity right now,” said Patrick Phillips, UO’s provost and senior vice president.

“I am very proud of the contributions that our faculty and students from an amazingly broad array of fields are making in terms helping to understand and address the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.

The first events will focus on UO’s role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning with the timely work of the Institute for Health and the Built Environment. On May 28 from 6 to 7 p.m., faculty panelists Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg and Mark Fretz will offer a dynamic presentation and discussion about preventing the spread of disease in indoor settings.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is emphasizing the fact that design and human health are inseparable,” Fretz said. “Our research brings together architects and scientists to help better understand how design can influence patterns of behavior.”

The institute’s work focuses on how architects and city planners can adapt buildings and the communities around them to better protect human health and safety. In a post-COVID-19 world, this informed approach will lead the way.

“Our findings will help optimize building parameters, such as fresh air rate, filtration, indoor humidity, lighting and spatial relationships, ultimately resulting in new design concepts for the realization of healthy and sustainable inhabited space of the future,” Van Den Wymelenberg said.

To attend the talk, register through Zoom. Attendees are asked to install Zoom beforehand and will receive a confirmation email and link to the webinar two hours prior.

On June 11 at 6 p.m., the next event in the series will feature psychology professor Phil Fisher and members of his team at the Center for Translational Neuroscience. They have studied how families with young children, a vulnerable population, are being affected by the pandemic. 

Later events will be announced on a rolling basis and will more broadly showcase research and scientific impact stemming from the UO. Organizers are working to include more speakers as the series builds momentum.

“It is exciting to be able to highlight a few of these projects and to provide an insider's look behind the curtain as the discovery process unfolds,” Phillips said.

—By Anna Glavash, University Communications