In a recent interview with the Arizona Daily Star, SIE assistant professor Sol Lim discussed the gradual steps University of Arizona researchers are taking to continue their work after closures due to COVID-19.
Lim described how her work studying body mechanics to improve occupational safety involves a lot of human interaction, which is very difficult to conduct in a time of social distancing. A lot of her research involves recording the movements of human test subjects – some of them elderly, disabled or both – by attaching sensors to their bodies.
“Basically, my work involves a lot of human participation,” Lim said in the interview. “And I’m working with a population that is vulnerable.”
Labs across campus are starting to reopen, with a little more than half of all active research activity resuming, according to Betsy Cantwell, senior vice president for research and innovation and professor of practice of aerospace and mechanical engineering.
Lim and her team are developing new ways to work with human subjects without risking their health. For one project, Lim and her team are trying to create a virtual learning system that will teach yoga to the visually impaired. Of course, this won't work without people to test, which Lim says could be difficult.
“Before COVID, people were very excited to participate in our study,” she said. “Participant recruitment will be a big thing.”
On the plus side, the coronavirus pairs nicely with her team’s effort to develop ways for vulnerable populations to do more on their own so they don’t have to go out and risk infection.
“With our virtual learning system that we’re developing, we hope people can still enjoy physical exercising without any barriers like inaccessibility or travel difficulties,” Lim said.