WPI researcher Dmitry Korkin stands in front of image of coronavirus

2020: Innovation Never Stops

As COVID-19 precautions impacted WPI, researchers found new ways to work and collaborate
December 17, 2020

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth installment of a five-part series about how the WPI community remained strong, stayed the course, and innovated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part 4: Research & Innovation: How university researchers stayed on track and turned their expertise to the pandemic’s biggest challenges.

WPI researchers never stopped innovating in 2020. When the campus shifted to limited operations during the spring, researchers took their work home. Then when they returned to campus labs over the summer, researchers did so with plans that made health and safety a top priority for faculty and students. Researchers also tackled some of the most pressing problems of the pandemic—the structure of the virus, the impact of remote learning on students, how to balance privacy and contact tracing, and the need for new health technologies to treat illness. Even as all that played out, researchers gave back to their community, by donating personal protective equipment from labs to health care workers and rapidly producing face shields for those on the front lines of the pandemic.

Bioinformatics researcher Dmitry Korkin and a team of graduate students used molecular modeling to reconstruct the 3D structure of the novel coronavirus.

Researchers gathered up data and focused on analysis, writing, and students when WPI shifted to limited on-campus activities during the early days of the pandemic.

Shichao Liu, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, gathered a team of WPI colleagues to conduct research that could only be done during a pandemic.

Back from their home offices, researchers settled onto campus and fired up their experiments.

An interdisciplinary team led by Ulkuhan Guler, director of WPI’s Integrated Circuits and Systems Lab, turned its attention to developing its technology for a new use.

Local and national media captured snapshots of how WPI researchers responded to the COVID-19 pandemic: 


-The Wall Street Journal — Feb. 21Sharing Data Faster to Fight an Epidemic

-Mass Live — March 23:  WPI collects thousands of gloves and masks

-The Verge — April 27:  Watch 3D printers churn out medical supplies to fight COVID-19

-CBS Boston:  WPI Researchers Help Design Ventilators During Coronavirus Pandemic

-The Boston Globe – Nov. 25:  Mass. begins work on tracing app, but will it matter?

Coming tomorrow: Images of #WPITogether.  

-Lisa Eckelbecker