UC Engineering Research Highlighted in COVID-19 Government Report

15 November 2022

The UC Mech Engineering Department recognizes the contributions made by staff and students in NZ COVID-19 report

  • Mark Jermy Covid Article Model

    A model demonstrating exhaled breath dispersion in a standard hotel room to help illustrate the risk of COVID-19 infection for unexposed workers entering the room.

Mark Jermy Imported from Spark/Profiler

Professor Mark Jermy

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) released a report in August summarising the significant research done around New Zealand to assist in responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic. UC’s Mechanical Engineering Department is highlighted in the report with a case study on the work they have done on the airborne transmission of the disease.

Mark Jermy, Jason Chen, Donald Derrick and Matthew Henderson from UC worked together with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the Building and Research Association of NZ (BRANZ), Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ), District Health Boards around NZ, residential care providers, and several other organisations. The work was funded by MBIE’s COVID-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund.

The project developed methods to estimate the risk of transmission of COVID-19 through the air and estimate the effect of control strategies such as masks, ventilation, and air filtration. This resulted in better understanding of the risks associated with different environments, including MIQ facilities, offices, gyms, buses, theatres, and schools. Researchers worked directly with operators to inform decisions on how indoor spaces were to be used, what ventilation and air cleaning strategies would reduce the risk of infection, and the public health measures needed to support this. This informed protocols and processes that were put in place at the facilities to reduce infection rates and protect the health of people using these facilities. Further details on the research outputs relating specifically to the effects masks have on air from from speech can be found here.

The report also highlighted the significant research work done in New Zealand, not just by the UC researchers, but research teams at universities across the country.

Some of the findings were:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has increased New Zealander researchers’ use of open access publications, to ensure a wide reach for their research.
  • A lot of research was non-medical – for example tourism, psychology and policy research were key areas for New Zealand researchers.
  • There is still significant collaboration going on, despite the restrictions of lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world.
  • Universities have led the COVID-19 research programme for New Zealand.

Read the report here

Speech air flow with and without face masks jouranal article link

  • Speech Air flow Covid 19 article

    An example of audio, Schlieren imaging, and video of speech without a mask from Speech air flow with and without face masks journal article.

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