A Newsletter from University Outreach and Engagement
April 2020
Dear Texas Tech Community,
We would like to dedicate this edition of our newsletter to all the TTU faculty, staff, and students who are contributing their time, resources, and energy to the community's fight against the COVID-19 crisis. They are engaging with colleagues across the university and the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, and partnering with local businesses, health care organizations, non-profit agencies, K-12 schools, and others to share their knowledge and expertise in an effort to help those affected by the crisis. Through their extraordinary efforts, they are not only addressing the current health crisis and associated societal affects, but they are helping get the lives of citizens back to normal. Below, please find a compilation of stories that highlight the realm and scope of the extraordinary outreach and engagement efforts that our Texas Tech community is involved in and the impact that their work is having on communities across the region and the state. Thank you for everything that you do to make a difference in the lives of our communities!
TTU Biological Threat Research Lab Closely Monitors COVID-19
When it was realized that COVID-19 was rapidly spreading around the globe and a pandemic was imminent, the TTU Biological Threat Research Lab team at Texas Tech University immediately began preparing to test samples from patients suspected to be infected with COVID-19. The TTU team was the first LRN lab in Texas to begin testing suspected COVID-19 cases in late February. On March 17, they detected and reported the first COVID-19 case in Lubbock.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States and particularly in Texas increased, it was necessary to significantly increase the capacity of the lab to test high numbers of clinical samples every day. With coordination through the TTU Vice President for Research and Innovation, a collaborative partnership between TTU and TTUHSC was established to increase the capacity of the TTU Biological Threat Research Lab to test for COVID-19.

Through the TTU-TTUHSC partnership, more than 30 volunteers from both campuses have joined the original five person TTU Biological Threat Research Lab team to create the TTU-TTUHSC COVID-19 Testing Team. Volunteers to assist in this project include TTU and TTUHSC faculty members, research staff, graduate students, as well as citizens that have no affiliation with either university but want to help “flatten the curve” in our community.
As both an academic research lab and a public health diagnostic testing lab, the TTU Biological Threat Research Lab has been extensively involved in detecting, monitoring, and researching outbreaks of infectious diseases of humans and animals occurring throughout Texas since 2003. The public health diagnostic testing capability of the TTU Biological Threat Research Lab is designated as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Laboratory Response Network (LRN) facility. The expertise and technical diagnostic capabilities available in the TTU Biological Threat Research Lab work directly with the Texas Department of State Health Services to provide support to city and county public health agencies and other healthcare providers within a 67 county region. The TTU Biological Threat Research Lab team has provided public health emergency diagnostic testing for numerous actual and potential disease outbreaks over the years, including chikungunya, dengue fever, Ebola, seasonal influenza, West Nile fever, Zika fever, and now COVID-19.
Texas Tech Banding Together to Help Health Care
Workers Battling COVID-19

Even in a time of "social distancing," the Texas Tech University community is coming together to help fight the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). In response to a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers, researchers across Texas Tech have donated thousands of items from their laboratories. "As a Carnegie Very High Research Activity university, Texas Tech conducts extensive research across our campus," said Joseph A. Heppert, vice president for research & innovation. "As the university began responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that our laboratory stocks of PPE could be better put to use in addressing the pressing needs of local health care professionals."

With the vast majority of research endeavors across campus already on hold, Heppert reached out to faculty to request donations of any PPE, but especially disposable gloves and N-95 face masks.

The response was overwhelming. This week, staff from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center picked up the collected PPE: more than 107,000 gloves, more than 2,000 masks, more than 2,500 gowns and two ultraviolet light sterilization units. The equipment is now being distributed in coordination with local health officials.

"We are proud of the Red Raider response to this urgent call for donations," Heppert said. "It speaks volumes about how the university has responded to help ensure the well-being of first responders in our local community."

Engineers Designing, Building Ventilators
to Aid in the Fight Against COVID-19

Texas Tech University's Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering has formed a working group at the behest of Dean Al Sacco Jr. to design and build new ventilators to meet the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For almost two weeks, a group of engineering faculty, staff, and students, led by Nurcan Bac, senior associate academic dean in the College of Engineering, and in partnership with regional high school students and high school engineering programs, has undertaken an effort to supply emergency respirators to health care workers on the South Plains.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has already stretched critical medical supplies to their limits and, hopefully, the ventilators the group has will be enough to provide the care needed in the coming months," Bac said. "However, if they are not, everything that can be turned into a ventilator or a respirator needs to be repurposed to serve that effort."

"In this spirit, everyone helping on the team has drawn inspiration from efforts all over the world. They have come together to generate new designs to turn anything already in a hospital not currently being used as a ventilator into a ventilator or a respirator. Right now, four designs have been developed, and two are already in the prototyping phase, being prepped for testing."

All four current designs seek to repurpose a bag valve mask (BVM), more commonly known as an artificial manual breathing unit (AMBU) bag into an automated ventilator. The first design uses a single arm to compress an AMBU bag.

The single-arm AMBU bag compression design was designed by Mazen Nachawati and a team of mechanical engineering senior design students under the direction of Jeff Hanson, a mechanical engineering instructor. This design is currently built and in the process of being prepped for stress tests to begin early next week.

*Continue reading in Texas Tech Today....
Texas Tech University and TTU Health Sciences Center Join Forces to Develop 3D-Printed Face Masks and Shields to Fight COVID-19
A collaborative group of faculty from Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) are joining forces to create 3D-printed face shields and face masks for health care workers in hopes of fighting the spread of the coronavirus  (COVID-19). The joint efforts led to the creation of the West Texas 3D COVID-19 Relief Consortium, a collaborative community involving several departments at TTUHSC, Texas Tech, the University of Texas-Permian Basin, Odessa College, local businesses, concerned citizens and aviators.
TTUHSC's Simon Williams, a professor of medical education and cell biology & biochemistry and associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Medicine, said members of the consortium wanted to provide support to the heroic health care workers caring for patients in the current COVID-19 pandemic."The West Texas 3D COVID-19 Relief Consortium is using innovative methods to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and ventilator components that will be distributed to hospitals and health care systems in need throughout West Texas," Williams said.

Collaborators come from across both universities, including Texas Tech's Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of EngineeringHonors CollegeCollege of Arts & SciencesJ.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing ArtsCollege of ArchitectureCollege of Agricultural Sciences & Natural ResourcesUniversity Libraries, Innovation Hub at Research Park, and Texas Tech Athletics and TTUHSC's J.T. & Margaret Talkington Department of Internal MedicineDepartment of SurgeryF. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health, and Libraries.
Texas Tech University recently established a crowdfunding campaign to aid in this effort. A $10 gift will provide the materials needed for one face shield. If you would like to help make an impact, click here.
Texas Tech Student Athlete and Honors College Senior Contacts the Under Armour Company for 3D-Printed Face Shields Project

Reagan Collins, a student in the Honors College and member of the women’s tennis team in Texas Tech Athletics, got involved in the project to print 3D-printed face shields for local medical staff. She took it a step further by initiating a new segment: incorporating Under Armour headbands into the design. The headbands will be used to secure the 3D-printed face shields onto the wearer’s forehead.
Reagan reached out to Under Armour, explaining the 3D-printed face shields project and its impact on the local medical community. She asked the company if they could match Texas Tech’s purchased quantity of headbands, and the company said yes. Reagan says over 400 3D masks were assembled in one day with the first shipment of headbands. When it was apparent that her team would need more, Reagan reached out to Under Armour again, explaining that her team would now be supplying face shields to most of the West Texas region. Once again, Under Armour quickly responded with their willingness to contribute, and they matched Texas Tech’s purchase of headbands for a second time. Two days later, Reagan and her team received 1,500 headbands from Under Armour to assemble masks.
In an interview with Texas Tech Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt on the Kirby Hocutt Show, Reagan shares, “I feel like a lot of these projects wouldn’t be possible without the support of [Texas Tech] Athletics – to have such a great program where I can thrive not only on the court but also off the court and be involved in different projects like this, helping the community out. We’re lucky to have the support of Athletics behind us.”

The 3D-printed face shield components can be disinfected and cleaned for multiple reuse, thus cutting down on waste and providing a sustainable product to medical staff during a time when supplies are limited. “That’s one of the great things about it: they can be used multiple times and still keep our healthcare providers safe,” says Reagan.

Reagan will be starting medical school in Fall 2020 at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She shares, “That’s another reason why being involved in this project is really great. As someone who is going to be on the front lines one day and a healthcare provider – it’s great to see the community come together and rally around them, really doing our part to try and help make them as safe as we can in this time of uncertainty.”

*Listen to the full interview with Reagan Collins on the Kirby Hocutt Show that aired April 8, 2020.
University Community to Create Resource for Local Small Businesses

The Jerry S. Rawls College of Business, in partnership with Texas Tech University's Northwest Texas Small Business Development Center, the Texas Tech Innovation Hub at Research Park and the City of Lubbock, launched the Hub City Small Business Triage Hotline on Thursday (April 2). The hotline aids local small businesses by addressing questions related to the various disaster-relief programs introduced by the Federal Government in response to COVID-19.

Specifically, the hotline will offer guidance regarding the newly passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which can provide qualifying businesses capital to cover the cost of retaining employees through the Paycheck Protection Program and assistance in keeping up with payments on a current or potential Small Business Administration loan through the Small Business Debt Relief Program.

"It is incredibly important for small businesses to have the preparation needed to take advantage of the programs being offered by the government as soon as possible," said Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope. "The triage hotline will prepare our businesses and arm them with answers and a bit of West Texas kindness, so they know they are not alone."

The idea for the hotline originally was conceptualized by Michael (Mike) Ryan, a Rawls College associate professor of practice and executive director of both the Institute for Leadership Research and the Center for Entrepreneurship & Family Business. "During these critical times, we must be conscious that many small businesses are dependent on a steady cash flow," Ryan said. "Through my studies in entrepreneurship, I know that the single biggest reason for business failures is not a lack of assets, but rather a lack of cash."

With this in mind, Ryan recommended the creation of the hotline and was able to garner support from others in the Texas Tech community who believed the program would be beneficial. In less than a week, the team was able to launch the public hotline." Our approach with this hotline is to try to inform those small businesses in a timely manner of what they might be able to do right now," said Ryan. "We will try to connect them to the resources that are being made available and provide ongoing support in the effort."

Rawls College faculty experts and select students will provide support by answering questions via phone calls and emails to the hotline. Information regarding economic disaster loans will be shared, and experts will be available to provide personal recommendations based on each business's eligibility and needs.

"I appreciate the students, staff and faculty who have jumped in to assist with this collaboration," said Rawls College Dean Margaret L. Williams. "We all feel the need to share our expertise to help the local business community, and students do not often have the opportunity to learn on the front lines as they will here."

The hotline serves small businesses in 16 counties: Bailey, Cochran, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Floyd, Garza, Hale, Hockley, King, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Motley, Terry and Yoakum.

Small business owners can access the hotline by calling the toll-free number, (800) 992-7232.

Visit the Hub City Small Business Triage website for additional information.

Article by Hailey Walker, Texas Tech Today | April 3, 2020

STEM & Leaf Corps Student Organization Initiates
Online Mentoring Program During COVID-19 Crisis

Members of Texas Tech Honors College student organization, STEM and Leaf Corp, conduct educational outreach to students in primary and secondary schools in the Lubbock community. The group focuses, in particular, on STEM areas but also provides assistance in a wide array of other academic disciplines.

STEM and Leaf Corp students provide tutoring and mentoring services free of charge at the following Lubbock schools: Lubbock High School, Estacado High School, Hutchinson Middle School, Smylie Wilson Middle School, and Atkins Middle School, as well as one local private school, Southcrest Christian School. They also work with local community groups including East Lubbock Promise, Communities in Schools, and Guadalupe-Parkway Sommerville Center. Currently, they are actively looking to make a connection with the 9th-grade campus at Frenship ISD.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic (with social distancing now a priority to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus), the students have initiated a new way to reach out to the K-12 students in these schools by providing academic and personal support via virtual tutoring. They are also expanding their reach with free virtual tutoring to fellow TTU students.

The STEM & Leaf Corps was founded by Texas Tech Honors students in 2017, and it has expanded its community outreach and engagement notably since. Of note, the group won the “Outstanding Contribution to the Greater Community” student org award last year by the TTU Office of Student Involvement, and it was also honored last November by the Volunteer Center of Lubbock as the winner of the “Get Involved” Award in the College Group category. 

Visit to learn more, or contact
View the growing list of volunteer tutors and mentors from the STEM and Leaf Corp organization and their partners during the COVID-19 crisis.
To help support the STEM & Leaf Corps, click here.
Burkhart Center Expands Telehealth Services
Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

To continue supporting children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during the coronavirus outbreak, the Burkhart Center for Autism Education & Research, housed in Texas Tech University's College of Education, is expanding its telehealth services.
The center's Mobile Outreach Clinic for Autism (MOCA), a mobile clinic that drives to rural and underserved West Texas communities, is now providing all of its services virtually.
The clinic, which already has served 4,280 individuals with autism both directly and indirectly in West Texas since launching last year, will expand soon to provide telehealth services for families and communities across the entire state. In May, the Burkhart Center will launch the Texas Telehealth Outreach Clinic for Autism (TTOCA), a statewide initiative that aims to serve 300 children.

TTOCA is funded by a $456,000 grant from Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's Autism Grant Program. Texas Tech was one of seven institutions awarded in the 2020-2021 grant cycle for parent-directed treatment. MOCA was launched in March 2019 with a $300,000 grant from THECB's Autism Grant Program. "This is an important and timely opportunity for the families and individuals we serve," said Wes Dotson, director of the Burkhart Center. "This telehealth service will allow us to continue our mission to provide direct support to individuals with autism and their families, even in this period of social distancing and reduced face-to-face options.

"We also anticipate that this program will help us refine our family-serving approach, which will survive long after COVID-19 is gone. Telehealth offers tremendous advantages in areas as geographically dispersed as Texas, and I am excited by Dr. Jennifer Hamrick's success in building an innovative program like TTOCA." Like MOCA, TTOCA will support parent-directed treatment and also focus on underserved areas that do not have access to high-quality autism services. Parent-directed treatment involves parents and/or caregivers in the treatment of children with ASD, supervised regularly by trained professionals. Hamrick, the MOCA project director and an assistant professor and board-certified behavior analyst in the Burkhart Center, will serve as project director for TTOCA.

"We've had success in assisting West Texas communities and families that do not have access to high-quality autism services, and we're happy to continue to help during this challenging time," Hamrick said. "We hope to provide some guidance and information to help parents and children navigate the disruptions to daily routines and other sudden changes that have occurred due to COVID-19 related school closures. This is a trying time for many, and we want to be able to help as much as we can."

Board-certified behavior analysts at the clinic can provide free behavioral assessments at a distance for children with ASD. Following the assessment, the clinic can develop treatment plans to address needs, such as deficits and challenging behavior, and remotely train parents or caregivers on how to help improve their child's condition. For families who do not have a confirmed ASD diagnosis, MOCA also offers telehealth autism screenings. A contact form to request an appointment with MOCA is available on the Burkhart Center website.

Decontamination Wipe from Texas Tech
Could Help Coronavirus Cleanup Efforts 

A decontamination wipe invented by a Texas Tech University researcher to clean up toxic agents also could clean up bodily fluids contaminated with the coronavirus. FiberTectTM is a three-layer, nonwoven wipe that features an activated carbon core sandwiched between absorbent top and bottom layers. "It is widely used as the primary dry decontamination method in hospitals and ambulances," said Corey Collings, a training specialist for First Line Technology, which markets FiberTectTM. "Hospitals use it in bulk and in rolls, and ambulances use it in a kit called the FastGrab to do immediate decontamination of patients contaminated with a wide variety of substances."

FiberTectTM was invented by Seshadri Ramkumar, a professor of chemical countermeasures and advanced materials in the Texas Tech Department of Environmental Toxicology. He says the wipe's structure is effective in containing bodily fluids – like saliva and mucus – through which viruses could be transmitted. Its activated carbon also can absorb particles transmitted in vapor phase through the air. As a wipe or mitt, FiberTectTM holds great potential for cleaning in settings where transmission of the COVID-19 virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, is a paramount concern.
"It can be used to clean wet surfaces contaminated with bodily fluids," Ramkumar said. "Highly porous carbon in the structure can trap the vapors and aerosols in which microbes are contained. The wipe structure is flexible and can take the shape of the objects to be cleaned. The three-ply structure without glue helps this effective cleaning." FiberTectTM  previously has been used successfully by the U.S. military to decontaminate both personnel and equipment, for oil spill cleanup during the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and by emergency response teams across the country in dealing with highly dangerous chemical substances, including Fentanyl.

"The advantage of FiberTectTM is that it has multiple uses," said Amit Kapoor, president and CEO of First Line Technology. "Many departments have bought into decontamination technology solely because of the Fentanyl epidemic. However, once they have the equipment, like FiberTectTM, they find that it is effective at removing a broad range of dangerous substances. Some examples include OC spray, bodily fluids, acids and other unknown materials. Because it is so easy to store and use, it has gained widespread acceptance among public safety agencies."

Its development and testing was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and managed by the Technical Support Working Group, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict in the U.S. Department of Defense. Product testing was conducted by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. FiberTectTM proved superior in all testing results against 30 comparable products for decontaminating against toxic chemicals.
Campus Mail 

The dedicated MailTech staff of the Operations Division: Business Services have been hard at work to ensure our campus stays connected and receives its mail. The team practices safety measures by wearing face masks, gloves, and body suits to ensure our well-being and their own. This Red Raider dedication does not go unnoticed. Thank you MailTech for your amazing service to the Texas Tech community! 
Stephen Jo Garcia, Marc Shelton, and Henry Santos hard at work in the TTU Physical Plant Central Warehouse.
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Jun 24, 2021