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Chapman Science Students Dive Into the Biology of COVID-19 Vaccine updates and evolution of the virus were among the topics in Schmid College lecture series.

Chapman University biologist Jeremy Hsu realized early in the coronavirus pandemic that teaching about the virus would be essential. So Hsu, an assistant professor and program advisor for biological sciences in Chapman’s Schmid College of Science and Technology, rolled up his sleeves, called fellow professors and created a six-week summer seminar series on the biology of SARS-CoV-2.

The response was strong. Each seminar averaged 35 participants with many participants attending multiple seminars.

Students Dive In

“I was thrilled that the seminar series attracted a wide audience, and generated great conversations and questions,” Hsu said.

Hsu’s project was one of several across campus, as faculty and students responded to the pandemic with unique projects and programming.

For the Schmid project, faculty from biology, biochemistry, chemistry, and pharmacy were among the presenters who shared insights into the science and biology of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics ranged from the evolution of the virus to testing and drug development.

“In spring, I saw that our students had a high interest in learning more about the novel coronavirus. I recognized, too, that many of my colleagues had expertise on the biology of this virus and could offer such interesting perspectives to students,” explained Hsu. 

Faculty from  biology, biochemistry, chemistry, and pharmacy were among the presenters who shared insights into the science and biology of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students gave the series rave reviews.

“I looked forward to each Friday afternoon. The seminar was a unique opportunity to get involved at Chapman before stepping on campus. It helped me stay informed about the virus from the data-driven standpoint, while also making me more curious about the scientific method.” – First-Year student Sophie Hasson

From Immunology to Molecular Science

Hsu initially opened the series to students, faculty, staff, incoming first-year, transfer, and high school students participating in the Simon STEM Scholars Program. Once the series was announced, Schmid College alumni began to express interest and were eager to attend as well. 

“It was such a breath of fresh air to learn about the scientific background of the disease compared to the contradictory information in the mass media,” noted biological sciences alumna Lindsay Zumwalt ‘20. “I loved learning about the virus from such different perspectives like immunology or the molecular basis of testing. Reconnecting with many of the professors I had during my time at Chapman was also so special.” 

First year students who attended thought it was a great way to get to know the Schmid College science community prior to starting the semester.

“I just wanted to say emphatically that I enjoyed the series! The topics were very interesting and diverse, inspiring me to look further into some of the topics,” incoming first-year student Sophie Hasson shared with Hsu over email. “Also, it was great to get a feel for the amazing dedication on the part of the professors at Chapman. I’m very excited to learn and collaborate with the Schmid community this year!” 

The series allowed the Schmid community to connect during an isolating time, as well as explore the intricacies of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Hsu said.

“I’m grateful to my colleagues for volunteering their time for this series, which I think showcases their commitment and dedication to science education, and am likewise delighted that we had this opportunity to share some science with our community,” Hsu said.

Catch Up on the COVID Conversation

The series ran Fridays, July 10 to August 14. The full list of speakers is posted here. 

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Sarah Buckley

Sarah graduated from Chapman University in 2014 with her B.A. in Communication Studies with a minor in Psychology.

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