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Ramping up to fall semester: Learn how to do your part as we return to campus, and get the latest COVID-19 updates.Campus ReadyCOVID-19 Updates

“COVID-19: Can Homemade Masks Help?” / Dr. Taher Saif / May 28, 2020 / 11:00 am - 12:00 pm PST (Pacific)

May 28, 2020 - 11:00am to 12:00pm

Novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) spreads through droplets containing virus particles when infected individuals sneeze, cough or speak. A healthy individual can get infected by inhaling droplets. Face masks can offer a physical barrier against virus transmission.

This is particularly true for SARS-CoV-2 virus that are shed by symptomatic, pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers. Because it cannot be ascertained who is infected without testing, the U.S. needs 300 million masks per day to prevent spreading. This demand cannot be met by commercial masks.

Recently the CDC provided new guidance to use cloth face coverings. However, there is little scientific study on the efficacy of cloth masks against high-impact droplets released during coughing or sneezing. This has led to controversies on the use of homemade masks: Will homemade masks be effective, and if so by what mechanism? We will address this question by discussing our recent research on the efficacy of home fabrics in blocking high-velocity droplets.

Professor Taher Saif received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in civil engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and Washington State University, respectively, in 1984 and 1986. He obtained his Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from Cornell University in 1993. He worked as a post doctoral associate in electrical engineering and the National Nanofabrication Facility at Cornell University from 1993-97. He joined the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1997, and is the Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor in the department. His research includes cancer tumor micro-environment, the mechanics of neurons and cardiac cells, development of biological machines and materials, and electro-thermo-mechanical behavior of nano-scale metals and semiconductors. His research is supported by the NSF and NIH.

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CREST Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Machines (CCBM)