Science Cafe | Wastewater: A COVID-19 Early Warning System, Feb. 24

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 5:00pm to 6:00pm

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Science Cafe | Wastewater: A COVID-19 Early Warning System, Feb. 24

Ohio University's Science Café series begins its spring lineup with Karen Coschigano and Guy Riefler discussing “Wastewater: A COVID-19 Early Warning System” on Feb. 24 at 5 p.m.

At the beginning of the spring semester, Coschigano, associate professor of biomedical sciences, and Riefler, professor of civil engineering, began implementing a new early warning system to give Ohio University another tool to detect COVID outbreaks.

In this Science Café, Coschigano and Riefler will take everyone on a field trip into a sewer manhole to see the sample collection process. They will then explore the tremendous power and versatility of molecular biology techniques used to better understand, detect and combat COVID.

Infected individuals shed coronavirus 7 to 14 days before they begin to show symptoms. Riefler and his team of students, in collaboration with Facilities Management and Safety, have been collecting wastewater from university sewers fed by residence halls.

Using molecular biology, Coschigano extracts RNA from these wastewater composite samples, finds RNA sequences that match the coronavirus, and measures how many copies of the virus are present. Regular testing is allowing the university to monitor coronavirus levels and predict locations of outbreak and spread. Coupled with the university’s ongoing COVID testing program for students, the university hopes to keep the university and greater community safer.

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