COVID-19 in Context – A Deans’ Forum on Living with a Pandemic
February 23, 2021
When COVID-19 transformed our world just a year ago, the fields of medicine, public health, and biomedical research all mobilized as part of the international crisis response. Yet those disciplines are not the only ones with important contributions to offer. The pandemic is multifaceted, and a full range of expertise is needed for essential insights into both its immediate and enduring impact.
In the Spring 2021 edition of the “COVID-19 in Context: A Deans’ Forum on Living with a Pandemic” series, the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Pamplin College of Business joined together to illustrate how a range of fields are contributing to our understanding of the pandemic.
In this series of virtual events, Virginia Tech experts presented on their research fields and other activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each session explored the greatest impact of the pandemic relevant to the participants’ fields of expertise, how their fields contribute to understanding the pandemic, the university’s role in dealing with the impact, the long-term consequences of the pandemic, and how research gained from this challenging period could be used in the future.
Videos from the Spring 2021 Series
March 15 Event
Laura Belmonte, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, chaired the March 15 session. Panelists on that day included:
- William Becker, an associate professor in the Department of Management in the Pamplin College of Business, who researches emotions related to organizational behavior, turnover, leadership, organizational identification, and human resources management.
- John Bovay, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who specializes in food and agricultural policy.
- Jonathan van Senten, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, who works in the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hampton. His primary focus is on aquaculture, aimed at understanding and quantifying the costs and impacts of the regulatory environment at the farm level.
- Anna Zeide, an associate professor of history and founding director of the Food Studies Program in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. She studies food as a way of understanding environmental change, dynamic cultural practices, consumer behavior, technology, health, and justice.
March 22 Event
Panelists in the March 22 event included Ann Steensland, who coordinates the Global Agricultural Productivity Report Initiative for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Her research involves small-scale agriculture and farming in the areas of sustainable approaches for increasing productivity, improving livelihoods and nutrition, market-based strategies for reducing post-harvest loss and waste, and connecting small-scale and emerging farmers to markets.
Katrina Powell, a professor of rhetoric and writing in the Department of English, serves as director of the Center for Rhetoric in Society. She is also the founding director of the Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies. Her research focuses on displacement narratives and the ethical dimensions of archiving those narratives in alternative spaces.
Joining them from the Pamplin College of Business are Donna Wertalik, a professor of practice and director of marketing strategy and analytics, and Viswanath Venkatesh, an Eminent Scholar and Verizon Chair of Business Information Technology in the Pamplin College of Business. Wertalik studies social media, data analysis, community management, and marketing and real-world applications, while Venkatesh focuses on understanding the diffusion of technologies in organizations and society.
March 29 Event
Panelists for the March 29 event included Chris Zobel, the R.B. Pamplin Professor of Business Information Technology, and Duygu Pamukcu, a Ph.D. student in the Pamplin College of Business. Zobel’s research interests include disaster operations management, humanitarian supply chains, and supply chain resilience, as well as sustainability and environmental decision-making. Pamukcu researches disaster operations management, nonprofit supply chains, risk management, disaster resilience, and logistics.
Also participating was Kim Niewolny, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education and director of the Virginia Tech Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation. Her scholarship focuses on multi-actor collaborations for sustainable food systems; community food security in central Appalachia; the nexus of technology, disability, and farmworkers; and participatory and cultural cummunity development approaches to community food work possibilities. Through the center, Niewolny and her team have launched the Food System and COVID-19 initiative, which includes identifying spaces of crisis and resiliency in the region’s food system.
Liesel Ritchie, a professor in the Department of Sociology and an affiliate of the Center for Coastal Studies at Virginia Tech, participated as well. Her focus is on the social impacts of disasters and community resilience, with an emphasis on technological hazards and disasters, social capital, and renewable resource communities.
April 5 Event
Panelists for the April 5 event included Reza Ovissipour, an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology and Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center. His research focuses on food and seafood safety and quality and value-added products with applied engineering and novel technologies.
Nicholas Copeland, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, also presented. He focuses his research on political imaginaries, governance, indigenous politics, Guatemala and Latin America, democracy, and social theory.
Panelists from the Pamplin College of Business included Pankaj Kumar, an assistant professor in the Department of Management; Kiran Awate, an assistant professor in the Department of Management; and Shilpa Madan, an assistant professor in the Department of Marketing. Kumar’s research interests lie at the intersection of strategy and organization theory, with a focus on innovation, interfirm relationships (networks), strategic alliances, and geography. Awate’s research explores the intersection of organizational learning and innovation. Madan’s focus is on leveraging consumers’ lay beliefs and cultural differences to help people live better, more fulfilling, and more sustainable lives.
The video will be forthcoming.
Videos from the Fall 2020 Series
In the Fall 2020 edition of the “COVID-19 in Context: A Deans’ Forum on Living with a Pandemic” series, Laura Belmonte, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Sally C. Morton, then dean of the College of Science, moderated the events. Visit the individual event pages linked below to watch the videos.
Understanding and Responding: The Politics of Public Health during Epidemics
November 2, 2020
Chair: Laura Belmonte, Dean of the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
In this event, Rebecca Hester, an assistant professor of science, technology, and society, presented “Pathogenic Entanglements: A Reflection on the Sociopolitics of COVID-19.” Ron Fricker, a professor of statistics, and E. Thomas Ewing, a professor of history, then offered their expertise in “Comparing Epidemics: Influenza in 1918 and COVID-19 in 2020.”
Intervening and Monitoring: Health Policies and Practices during Infectious Disease Outbreaks
November 12, 2020
Chair: Sally C. Morton, Dean of the Virginia Tech College of Science
Julie Gerdes, an assistant professor of English, will drew on her experiences on the USAID Zika team and the international COVID-19 Task Force to present “The Multiple Ontologies of International Infectious Disease.” Lauren Childs, an assistant professor of mathematics, then offered “Choosing Intervention Strategies During an Emerging Epidemic: Bridging Basic and Applied Science.”
Maintaining and Surviving: Challenges to Community Health during an Epidemic
November 30, 2020
Co-Chairs: Laura Belmonte, Dean of the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Sally C. Morton, Dean of the Virginia Tech College of Science
In this webinar, Charles Calderwood, an assistant professor of psychology, presented “Maintaining Occupational Health in a Pandemic: Lessons from Before and During an Unfolding Crisis,” followed by the presentation of Ashley Shew, an associate professor of science, technology, and society, on “Cripping a Pandemic.”