Skip to main content
Skip to main content

Collaborative Collision: COVID-19


The projects listed below have been funded by the Collaborative Collision: COVID-19 Seed Fund program. If you have any questions please contact Mike Mitchell

Brendan Lantz Criminology Considering Collateral Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Examining the Impact of the Pandemic on Prejudice, Hate Crime, and Victimization As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread, it has become clear that the implications of the virus extend beyond physical health, potentially exacerbating xenophobia, hate, and prejudice. The FBI recently warned about an expected increase in anti-Asian hate crimes; there is reason to suspect significant consequences for other racial and religious minorities as well. Following this, the current proposal seeks funding for a pilot survey to assess potential collateral consequences of the pandemic, including increased (a) prejudice levels; (b) experiences with racial discrimination; (c) risk of hate crime victimization; and (d) adverse mental health consequences, including fear of victimization and depression. 
James McNulty Psychology Understanding the Impact of COVID-19-Related Stress on Families Our research team will propose to examine the factors that have made families more versus less vulnerable to the psychological effects of COVID-19. We will recruit a sample of 200 married couples to complete self-report and behavioral measures of self- and family-related variables, including COVID-19-related stress, attitudes, and behavior. Couples will complete a large battery of questionnaires and behavioral tasks online at baseline and then complete a smaller battery of questionnaires online each day for two weeks. We will test theoretically derived predictions regarding individual and family factors that make families more versus less vulnerable to the pandemic. 
Thomas Joiner Psychology A longitudinal, prepandemic-postpandemic assessment of the mental health and general psychological functioning of a large sample of young adults Every year for decades, we in the Department of Psychology have conducted mass screenings of our undergraduates enrolled in our Introductory Psychology courses and some other large-enrollment course as well. The mass screening includes questionnaires on topics of interest to the faculty and their research groups, including many questionnaires on various mental health issues. The sample includes many hundreds of students each semester. The screening occurs at the beginning of each semester, and thus in 2020 it occurred mostly in January. From this January screening, we have a good sense of our students' status on many psychological variables pre-pandemic.

To see how the students' mental health and general psychological functioning have been affected by the pandemic, we are currently in the process of re-administering the screen, which will enable us to compare pre-pandemic functioning to post-pandemic functioning. Given the timing of the semester, this is largely complete, but much remains in front of us (and it is for this we request funds), including the organization, management, storage, cleaning, and crucially, the analysis of these data. Another essential activity of course is the production of multiple scientific contributions (e.g., grant proposals, journal articles) on the basis of these analyses in the coming weeks and months.
James Du Sport Management A Grim Choice Facing the American Public: A Natural Experiment Testing the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental and Physical Health in the U.S. Social isolation is a major contributor to mental health problems among 19.1% of the American population (NAMI, 2019). Given the mandated and recommended COVID-19 pandemic guidelines, this percentage is likely to increase (Moutier, 2020). The escalating public health crisis has forced American society into unchartered territory which has drastically affected individual lives. Stay-at-home orders limit recreation, both outdoor and indoor, as well as disrupt and reduce routine social activities. Using a population-level data, the purpose of this study is to examine the mental and physical health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic before and after the mandatory measures were instituted. 
David Meckes Biomedical Sciences Mesenchymal Stem Cell Derived Extracellular Vesicles as an Anti-Coronavirus Therapy Recent clinical trial data suggest that patients receiving mesenchymal stem cell therapy have better outcomes of COVID-19. Our research as well as others has revealed that extracellular vesicles (EVs) released from MSCs mediate positive therapeutic effects in many inflammatory disease models including the attenuation of acute lung injury following influenza infection. Here, we propose to test the anti-inflammatory and anti-coronavirus properties of MSC-EVs grown in a 3D bioreactor developed at FSU taking advantage of the unique expertise of the PIs in virology and extracellular vesicle biology (Meckes), antiviral drug discovery, (Suo), and stem cell biology (Grant).  
Melissa Radey Social Work Immediate Economic, Social, and Health Impacts of COVID-19 for Vulnerable Mothers and Their Young Children This project proposes to conduct semi-structured interviews with single mothers of young children during the COVID-19 pandemic, a population likely experiencing disproportionate and disparate effects. The project goals are (a) to provide an in-depth understanding of single mothers’ experiences with employment, child care, education, public benefit receipt, and informal networks; (b) to ascertain their perspectives on how COVID impacts their interactions, relationships, functioning, and health; and (c) to provide pilot data to support a National Institute of Health (NIH) application or similar mechanism to extend the project to longitudinal interviews or to conduct a mixed methods study. 
Robb Tomko Biomedical Sciences Establishing a preclinical discovery and evaluation pipeline for small molecule inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 replication We aim to establish a pipeline for the discovery and initial evaluation of small molecule (chemical) drug candidates to treat COVID-19.  The PI and co-PI will combine their expertise in enzymology and drug discovery (Dr. Tomko) and human virology (Dr. Meckes) to complete development of several key assays, and to then conduct a proof-of-principle pilot search for inhibitors of a key SARS-CoV-2 protein necessary for virus replication.  These funds will support acquisition of the remaining data necessary to justify expanded drug discovery and development efforts in external applications.  The pilot search will also likely yield intellectual property (utility patents).  
Noyan Ilk Business Instilling Consumer Confidence on Social Media during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Rapid Economic Recovery Economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business sector have been devastating. The primary goal of this project is to collect time-sensitive social media data about the efforts taken by businesses to instill consumer confidence and recover service delivery and the public reaction to these efforts. Collected data will be merged with financial data and analyzed in order to understand: (1) consumer attitudes towards firms that are going through financial hardship, (2) the impact of social media communication on economic recovery, and (3) the value of offering transparency to consumers about firm’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Xiuwen Liu Computer Science Achieving Economic Freedom and Public Health Through Deep Learning and Contact Tracing Generally, strategies to contain infectious disease outbreaks without effective vaccines or treatments have been well-studied. Such strategies were successfully adopted to contain the severe acute respiratory
syndrome(SARS) pandemic in 2003. However, the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while mitigating the negative impact on the economy and daily lives of individuals remains far from clear. Among the many possible options available, the most obvious strategies have with contradictory outcomes. We believe that the resolution to these conflicts depends on the availability of more accurate models of the transmission mechanism of COVID-19. In turn, the models will lead to more fine-grained targeted contact tracing algorithms that will make efficient use of available data by taking advantage of the vast redundancy in individual activity patterns. The core component of the proposed research is to develop data-driven time-dependent transmission models for COVID-19 using deep neural networks. Deep neural networks have solved many challenging problems in the last several years and have even surpassed human performance. Thus, we anticipate breakthroughs in model accuracy and effectiveness. Note that the proposed framework not only applies to the current COVID-19 situation but also to future pandemics.
Meredith Lynn MoFA Online Events and the Audience Experience in a Time of Crisis The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed all areas of public life online, accelerating initiatives to make live performances and art exhibitions accessible through digital platforms. We propose to utilize Collaborative Collision funds to build an interactive online resource for disseminating exhibition and performance content and collecting information on audience use habits and responses. This resource will make arts programming accessible to diverse publics, while generating data that CFA faculty and student researchers will analyze to improve our understanding of how users interact with digital creative content. We feel strongly that this project will be competitive for subsequent funding through the NEH Digital Humanities Programs, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the NEA. 
Yi Ren Biomedical Sciences Targeting macrophage activation-induced microvascular injury to treat COVID-19 Macrophages are a major source of many cytokines. Macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) or cytokine storm is a potentially fatal condition caused by excessive macrophage activation. Severe COVID-19 patients exhibit features of MAS and increased infiltration of macrophages in multiple organs. Moreover, microvascular injury and endotheliitis were observed in many organs accompanied by macrophage infiltration, which may explain the systemic impaired function of microcirculation and their clinical sequelae in patients with COVID-19. We will study how activated macrophages and their released cytokines impair microcirculatory function and generate therapeutic strategies that target: 1) macrophage activation, and 2) interaction of macrophages and microvessels.
Michelle Therrien Comm Sci and Dis Family-centered practice during the COVID-19 pandemic: Lessons learned and implications for AAC service delivery This study will bring together a team of researchers in the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for children with disabilities. The project aims to: (1) capture the experiences of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and parents of children who use AAC regarding service-delivery changes due to COVID-19, (2) identify the impact of new service delivery methods on use of family-centered practices, and (3) use this information to develop and evaluate a framework for increasing family centered practices in AAC service delivery.  
Hank Bass Biological Science siRNAs for Coronavirus Gene Knock-Out Research We propose to develop siRNA biologics that knock-out Coronavirus genes.
Our approach uniquely combines siRNAs targeting several of 27 SARS-CoV-2 genes, and establishing siRNA-transformed lung cell line for research.

New software will assist siRNA design, combining known thermodynamics and composition effects, while evaluating thousands of siRNA candidates.
A novel nanopolymer for in vitro delivery will test potential effectiveness compared to the conventional delivery methods called lipofection.
Addressing known risks of cellular toxicity to high siRNA vector levels, High Resolution microscopy will help toward stable design parameters.

Anticipate publication and software release in short timeline.
Yanshuo Sun Indust Manuf Eng Data-Driven Modeling and Learning of Hurricane Evacuee’s Individual Decision Making under COVID-19 Pandemic In this proposed project, we expect to generate crucial insights into individual evacuation decision making under dual crises – pandemic and hurricane, based on large-scale mixed-mode survey data and using a machine learning approach. The data collection effort is urgent as the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will start soon on June 1, while there is no evidence indicating that the current pandemic will end by then. After completing this project, we can better understand how residents would make their evacuation decisions in this unprecedented context, which will then be used to help emergency management agencies to better allocate critical resources, such as evacuation vehicles, shelters, and medical supplies.
Dina Wilke Social Work Examining the Health, Economic, and Professional Impacts of COVID-19 on Human Service Workers As essential workers, those in child welfare and other health and human service (HHS) fields face the twin burdens of providing effective services while protecting their own health and that of their families. This project proposes a rapid analysis of short response qualitative data currently being collected from a sample of child welfare and other HHS workers. The project will explore the health, financial, and professional impacts of COVID-19 on HHS workers resulting in a coded dataset that allows for rapid response to RFPs focusing on the health and human service workforce.
Shannon Hall-Mills Comm Sci and Dis Knowledge and Self Efficacy to Provide Essential Research-based, Functional, Effective, Communication Tele-Therapy for Equitable Development (KASE-PERFECTED) The most prevalent disability among school-age children and adolescents is speech-language impairment, which has important implications for children's health and social outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic has undermined the availability and delivery of essential therapy services for students with disabilities as schools struggle to shift to online therapy models. The proposed study addresses one level of capacity by exploring the clinicians’ knowledge and self-efficacy to provide effective therapy services via telepractice. Measures developed through this project will establish a self-assessment of clinicians’ capacity to provide teletherapy and result in pilot data to be incorporated in federal funding submissions to expand this work. 
Jonathan Dennis  Biological Science Characterizing chromatin variations in human cells in response to SARS-Cov-2 COVID-19 presents as a viral syndrome and a maladaptive immune response that varies widely across patients. Understanding the dynamics of immune cell response to SARS-Cov-2 is important for vaccine and therapeutic design. The Dennis laboratory is a leader in immune response potential and is uniquely poised to characterize the contribution of genome organization and chromatin structure to the varied SARS-Cov-2 response.  We propose to characterize genome organization and chromatin structure associated with the immune response to SARS-Cov-2.  We hypothesize that characterization of the chromatin variations will be critical to explain the array of clinical responses to SARS-Cov-2.
Steven Lenhert Biological Science Portable drug screening microarrays for discovery of COVID-19 therapeutics A challenge in identifying effective therapeutics for COVID-19 is that laboratory experiments on the virus require high biosafety levels. The Lenhert lab at FSU has invented a miniaturized drug screening microarray technology that allows thousands of different drug candidates to be tested on a single plate, making them portable and suitable for use in such labs. The purpose of this proposal is to generate preliminary data and establish a team using this technology on a relevant lung cell type used for testing of potential therapeutics for COVID-19, in preparation for an R01 submission in the Fall of 2020.
Andrea Meltzer Psychology Mortality Salience, Economic Failure, and Parenting Behaviors The COVID-19 pandemic is having unprecedented impacts on families. A predominant biological theory (life history theory) suggests two key aspects of the pandemic—mortality salience and economic stress—likely to impact parenting behaviors. The extent to which parents worry about (a) the growing death rate and its implications for their family’s mortality, and (b) financial struggles associated with a failing economy may underlie functional and dysfunctional parenting behaviors. We propose an online daily-diary study of 275 U.S. parents to examine these associations, which will provide foundational data for a proposal to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Michael Killian Social Work “A Pilot Study of mDOT for Immunosuppression Medication Adherence in Adolescent Heart Transplant Recipients During COVID-19 Pandemic” Currently, developed and evaluated telehealth interventions are paramount, especially for immunosuppressed patient populations. Our ability to provide excellent patient care remotely has additional importance considering COVID-19. This project will examine the feasibility of implementing mDOT, an asynchronous, mobile video directly observed therapy, with a sample of adolescent heart transplant recipients from the Health Congenital Heart Center (University of Florida). Our interdisciplinary team of researchers has begun a partnership with eMocha Mobile Health Inc., a startup telehealth company incubated by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. eMocha has developed a mDOT telehealth application enabling healthcare staff to track dose-by-dose medication adherence. 
Vanessa Dennen Educational Psych Adolescent Social Media Use in the Time of COVID-19 This project investigates adolescent use of social media during the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, it focuses on how social media use alternately supports and hinders adolescents’ social well-being as they struggle with physical social distancing, cancelation of regular activities and rites of passage, academic uncertainty, and myriad other challenges affecting their families, including economic hardship and health problems. Our prior research suggests students build strong social networks and pursue interests which can be invaluable at this time, yet clearly there are stresses as well.  Funding will be used to support an initial pilot study using a survey and electronic diary-based approach.
Wei Yang Chemistry Biophysical Investigation of Action Dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease For Effective Drug Discovery Facing the Covid-19 pandemic challenge, it is urgent to develop effective drug molecules that can readily break the life cycle of the severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Among various functional components, the SARS-CoV-2 main protease stands out as a promising drug target. In this collaborative study, we will employ cutting edge molecular dynamics simulation and solid-state NMR methods to capture and characterize the “action” structures of this protein, which represent the key conformations along the functional pathway and are essential to for the identification of high potency drug candidates imperative to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.
Laura Reid Marks Educational Psych Psychological and Substance Use Impacts of COVID-19 Perceived Threat in Racially Diverse Emerging Adults Current data demonstrate that COVID-19 disproportionally impacts communities of color with a higher prevalence of the virus and death rates. Emerging adults seem to perceive less threat of contracting the virus than other adult groups; however, research has not examined how perceived threat of contracting the virus may influence their psychological health and risky behaviors. The proposed project will examine the association of COVID-19’s perceived threat with psychological health (i.e., depression, anxiety, stress) and substance use (i.e., alcohol and cannabis use) in a racially diverse sample of emerging adults. Potential demographic moderators of these relationships will also be investigated. 
Michelle Parvatiyar NFES Risk Factors for COVID-19 Infection We are proposing to examine the increased susceptibility of
individuals to Covid-19 with a specific genetic risk factor. In our studies we have found that deletion/reduction
of a protein in the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex at the cell surface may increase risk of virus infection. We
do know that sarcospan levels vary greatly in humans and is expressed in diverse types of tissues including:
heart, brain, vascular tissue and the lungs. One of our studies has shown that deletion of sarcospan causes an
increase in ACE2 receptor especially in the heart and could thereby increase risk of infection, potentially
causing myocarditis. It appears therefore, that this may cause an increased in viral load experienced by the
patient. Another finding is that sarcospan-deficient innate immune cells mount higher innate immune response
to poly I:C an analogue of RNA viral infection. This more robust immune response may be counter productive
leading to cytokine storm, since it is occurring at a later time point and after the individual receives the higher
initial viral load due to increased ACE2 receptor density. Studies will be conducted in humanized mice using
synthesized viral proteins and examine the interactions between the proteins and the ACE2 receptor and effect
on cardiomyocyte contractility as well as determining factors that lead to decreased sarcospan expression,
which can be modulated by a number of stressors and genetic factors.
Joe Schlenoff Chemistry Lipid Rippers: Antiviral Polymers Before an effective vaccine is produced, several strategies are available to combat the spread of covid19, including isolation (quarantine), social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and surface sterilization. The latter is important because the virus remains active for days on nonporous surfaces.  We will evaluate the effectiveness of a newly-synthesized polymer in destroying membranes of the type encapsulating the covid19 virus. The team comprises a polymer chemist and a biologist with expertise in lipids. Synthetic lipid membranes will be prepared, then treated with the polymer to extract lipids.
Cameron Beatty Educational Psych Creation of Dataset to Track County Level Variables and COVID Infections Despite economic, human, and medical resources being distributed to fight COVID-19, marginalized and underrepresented populations remain particularly vulnerable. Of these vulnerable populations, preliminary data suggests that COVID-19 is infecting and killing African Americans in the United States at disproportionately high rates. We plan to create the first dataset that tracks COVID-19 data with county-level variables. By combining Florida Department of Health data with American Community Survey data, we can match COVID-19 cases with county-level demographic and economic indicators. Specifically, the data will allow us to create policy recommendations that can efficiently distribute economic, human, and medical resources to help alleviate any inequities that exist in these localities.