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University of Bradford showcases its broad response to covid pandemic


University of Bradford campus, showing UoB sign and buildings in background

Did panic buying help spread coronarivus? And how is ‘game theory’ helping redesign covid-safe offices?

When the first lockdown was imposed in March, the University of Bradford called on its army of academics to come up with projects which might benefit society during and after the pandemic.

Over 20 were funded and the resulting studies variously published in professional journals and even taken up by businesses and hospitals. Now, by way of celebration, a handful will feature in a special webinar on Wednesday December 9, from 6pm-7.30pm.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor John Bridgeman said: “Earlier this year, we had an open call-out to our academics to put forward covid-related research ideas and eventually funded over 20, across a range of subjects. We wanted to look at ways our academics could do research which would be of short, medium and long term benefit in the fight against covid. 

“We wanted to celebrate by taking a handful of those projects and showing what they achieved. This demonstrates the University's impact locally and nationally in response to the pandemic.”

The webinar is entitled How can research deliver contributions to the understanding and response to Covid-19 and its impacts? The event will be hosted online. A link to join will be sent to registered participants a few days before the event.

Among the features projects are:-

An investigation into panic buying: Dr Elvira Ismagilova, Lecturer in Marketing and Business, conducted a survey of 1,000 UK residents and discovered new insights into behaviour around panic buying. She says panic buying may have helped spread the covid virus and found a strong link between panic buying and herd mentality that was further exacerbated by social media. She added that messages simply telling people not to panic buy - such as that put out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the start of the pandemic - may actually have had the opposite effect. Her work could help crisis management communications planning.

Dementia social care project: Dr Kathryn Lord, Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Health Studies led a nationwide study which tracked hundreds of people living with dementia during the first lockdown, looking at how the loss of service provision affected their mental wellbeing. More than 500 people took part in the initial survey; the results were published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in July and form a strong argument for the restoration of dementia services and parity of support for the professionals who work therein with other branches of healthcare, such as the NHS.

Game theory-based approach to office-based social distancing: Professor of Visual Computing Hassan Ugail used AI ‘game theory’ to develop an effective computational tool for modelling optimal human distancing in offices and other workspaces and social environments. The tool will help decision makers to plan environments effectively, ranging from meeting areas, social spaces for larger gatherings and even classrooms for students and children.

Others include:-

  • The impact of Covid-19 pandemic on asylum seeker and refugee health in Bradford District and West Yorkshire, delivered by Mel Cooper, Reader in Maternity and Migrant Health 
  • A post Covid-19 recovery plan for small and micro businesses and entrepreneurs in Yorkshire, delivered by Senior Lecturer David Spicer
  • QualDash for Covid-19: Mai Elshehaly, Lecturer in Computer Science, discusses a web-enabled ‘dashboard’ already deployed in five NHS hospitals, as part of a project funded by the NIHR Health Services & Delivery Research programme to support clinical teams monitor the quality of patient data.

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