CPP students and faculty continue research amid pandemic

By Allen Valdez and Jonathan Frias, Feb. 23, 2021

With the pandemic spurring new methods of research, faculty and students at Cal Poly Pomona are starting to explore broader topics related to COVID-19.

The effects are apparent at CPP, where research studies have been altered and additionally, others have been given the opportunity to do some research on their own.

Courtesy of Carston Lange

Carsten Lange, a professor of economics and data science expert, established a website tracking and showing updated trends of the coronavirus across the country. Lange uses resources from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times Data Desk as he hopes to educate people about COVID-19 through better visualization of its cases.

“I could see it was actually not getting better, then I thought I want to provide something where people can get more objective and more comprehensive information and not just look at one point in time,” Lange said.

According to Lange, the trend of active cases left him in shock many times. In July 2020 the number of cases were rampant, however, he did not expect them to get five times worse toward the end of the year.

“I can see the trend, but it does not tell me the future,” Lange said. “With that tool I do not get a crystal ball, but I can see a trend changing and I would certainly say, ‘Look the trend is going down’ and the vaccine effect is still not in there.”

Courtesy of Carston Lange

While there are many ongoing research opportunities happening at CPP, some studies need approval from the Institutional Review Board, specifically, those that deal with human subjects.

Kristen Schiele, assistant professor at the College of Business and chair of CPP’s Institutional Review Board, explained that its priorities are protecting research participants, researchers and the university as a whole.

With the pandemic altering how research is conducted in and out of campus, Schiele explained trends in IRB applications since the start of the pandemic.

“What I’m seeing more and more of are protocols involving education and how teachers and students have had to evolve and adapt going online during COVID,” Schiele said. “We’re seeing a lot more of those which I think is really wonderful because it shows that our faculty really care about students and want to make sure that we’re giving the best experience possible.”

Courtesy of Jasmine Cooper

Alumna Jasmine Cooper (’20, psychology) is someone who had long been interested in researching the effects of education and its relationship with mental strain. She detailed the kind of work she was doing before the pandemic hit.

“Initially I was doing an electroencephalogram study to look at how mental fatigue impacted memory in college students just because I noticed at a certain point in the semester, things would get harder and be harder to concentrate, study and really focus,” Cooper said. Cooper, at the start of the pandemic, received an email from the university forcing her to halt her research, cancel all her appointments and switch to alternate projects. This allowed her to pivot her research to the effects of virtual instruction on students at CPP, with a purpose in mind.

“For me, more so, I want the faculty to see how students are really being affected by this pandemic,” Cooper said. “I know it’s been hard on everyone, us students especially and I know they’re (faculty) trying their best.”

Schiele noted the pandemic and evolving state of research at CPP.

“We’re in the middle of the pandemic and there’s so much change happening right now in the world with all of us moving online and everything that’s changed with that,” Schiele said. “I’ve been very impressed with how we’re still doing research and we’re still making things happen.”

Feature image courtesy of Carston Lange.


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