Clarkson University Defends Against COVID-19 Through Technology

Potsdam, NY, Oct. 27, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — When Clarkson University commenced its fall semester planning back in the spring, it looked to be a daunting task to safely bring more than 3,000 students back to its main campus in Potsdam for both in-person and online classes — especially for a university known for its personal, rigorous hands-on learning.

Questions like “Can classrooms be safely used?” and “Do we have enough classroom technology for online and hybrid classes?” were on the minds of faculty and administrators.

Engineers from Clarkson’s CAARES (Center for Air and Aquatic Resources, Engineering Science) and experts from the University’s Office of Information Technology quickly went to work to make fall semester classes a reality, while still maintaining rigor in both learning and safety.

Suresh Dhaniyala, the Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor and co-director of CARES, took the lead on analyzing the performance of classroom ventilation systems.

“For the COVID-19 pandemic scenario, our focus was on knowing that any particles in the air could be evacuated quickly, so as to prevent cross-contamination between occupants,” says Dhaniyala.

An air exchange rate is the rate at which airflow is brought into a room and directly relates to the rate at which particles are removed from a room. A rate of 1 per hour implies that after one hour, the amount of fresh air brought in is equal to the volume of the room.

Most homes have air exchange rates of approximately 0.3 per hour.  At the other end of the spectrum, hospital operating rooms are required to have air exchange rates of 15 to 25 per hour.

“We evaluated our classroom air exchange rates using an aerosol injection system with particles of 500 nanometers to 5 microns, the same size as particles that escape from face masks and are responsible for airborne disease transmission,” says Dhaniyala. “We injected particles into each classroom and used sensors around the room to study the decay times.”

 Dhaniyala determined that many classrooms already had excellent air exchange rates of 6 to 10 per hour, significantly exceeding requirements. With an air exchange rate of 10 per hour, a particle injected during a class has a less than five percent chance of still being in that classroom after 20 minutes.

“We shared a few problem areas with University Engineer Michael Tremper, who was able to quickly adjust the ventilation systems in those spaces by using innovative engineering solutions,” says Dhaniyala.

At the same time, the classroom ventilation was being evaluated, teams from Clarkson’s Office of Information Technology were working to implement new technology into existing classrooms and to create new classrooms in non-traditional spaces like dining halls and larger multipurpose areas that could accommodate social distancing requirements.

“Our teams touched a total of 88 classrooms to ensure that every space is now equipped with a pen-touch display, webcam, microphone, and full lecture capture capabilities,” says Chief Information Officer Joshua Fiske. “Additionally, for faculty who are teaching online, we created a loaner pool of

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Spatz ‘68 Endowed Chair Established at Clarkson, Crimi Named to Role

David Spatz '68
David Spatz ’68
David Spatz ’68
Michelle Crimi
Michelle Crimi
Michelle Crimi

Potsdam, NY, Oct. 21, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A generous gift from David M. Spatz of West Hills Lake, Tex., has established the David M. Spatz ’68 Endowed Chair to support the Director of Clarkson University’s nationally- recognized Engineering and Management (E&M) Program. The endowment will contribute to salary, benefits, and research funds for the Spatz Chair. 

Professor Michelle Crimi ‘95, current Director of the Engineering & Management Program at Clarkson, with a joint appointment as Professor in the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, is the inaugural recipient of the Spatz Endowed Chair.  

Spatz said he wanted to establish this endowment because, “Clarkson gave me a really strong education, learning environment, and campus experience which became the foundation of my success in life.”

Clarkson Provost Robyn Hannigan says this endowment will ignite those connections for students for years to come. “This professorship will enable experiential learning and high-quality research to be part of the fabric of Clarkson forever.”

When Spatz created this endowed chair, it was important to him that the professor named to the position would work hard to encourage students to think like entrepreneurs. Crimi embodies that mindset; she and her business partner, Fiona Laramay, co-founded the company RemWell to treat groundwater contamination using a novel and sustainable approach.

“RemWell addresses groundwater contamination from a particularly challenging suite of contaminants, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). We have developed a reactor (the InSRT reactor) that will treat these contaminants fully on-site and underground directly where the contamination occurs, which can save contaminated sites up to 40 percent in annual operating costs. In addition to reactor sales, RemWell offers design and consulting services to assure proper implementation of InSRT,” Crimi said.

“There is currently no approach aside from InSRT available that will treat PFAS in groundwater that doesn’t require energy-intensive pumping and/or expensive materials management,” she said.

Crimi’s research focuses on developing in situ treatment technologies for groundwater contamination, determining the impact of groundwater technologies on aquifer quality, and integrating treatment technologies for optimized risk reduction. Her recent work has focused on the treatment of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and other emerging contaminants. Crimi’s projects are often conducted in partnerships with industry and consulting organizations and often have a strong technology transfer focus with the objective of moving technologies from the laboratory to full-scale adoption by developing guidance, tools, protocols, and workshops to support field application. She earned her bachelor of science degree in Industrial Hygiene and Environmental Toxicology from Clarkson University, her master of science degree in Environmental Health from Colorado State University, and her Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. She currently teaches courses in Team-Based Design & Innovation and Technological Entrepreneurship. 


CONTACT: Melissa Lindell Clarkson University 315-268-6716 [email protected]

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Clarkson University Names Founding Dean of the Lewis School of Health Sciences

Lenn Johns
Lenn Johns
Lenn Johns

Potsdam, NY, Oct. 19, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — After conducting a nationwide search, Clarkson University today announced Dr. Lennart D. Johns as founding dean of its Earl R. and Barbara D. Lewis School of Health Sciences.  

Johns will lead the Lewis School through a pivotal period that will strengthen and expand a growing portfolio of programs in the health sciences that assure the highest quality of education for students and advance careers, research and innovation with an emphasis on meeting rural and distance-challenged healthcare needs.   

Clarkson Provost Robyn Hannigan is looking forward to collaborating with Johns and the faculty to create a new identity for the health sciences across the University and externally through community impact.  “With Johns’ experiences and leadership, Clarkson is well poised for national prominence in rural healthcare. Johns understands the reality of the need for more quality rural healthcare options. He passionately works to address complex issues and develop forward-thinking concepts and works hard to build collaborative sustainable educational and experiential learning environments. His entrepreneurial spirit will bring the Lewis School to national prominence in rural healthcare going forward,” Hannigan said.

Johns is known among his peers as an innovative and collaborative leader with an extensive research portfolio as well as practical experience building an outcomes-based curriculum and a nationally sustainable clinical education program that connects students to the world of work.  In his role as Director of General Education for Quinnipiac, he oversaw the development of a first-year seminar and a senior-level integrative capstone experience.  The primary focus of his academic research has been centered on autoimmunity and injury repair. He works to understand how energy fields, both ultrasound and laser, alter immune regulation.  He has been published in a wide variety of journals ranging such as the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Athletic Training, Brain Research, Cytokine, Immunology, Physical Therapy, and Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology. 

“Having grown up in a rural farming community in northwestern Pennsylvania, what attracts me to Clarkson is the opportunity to impact the access and quality of healthcare in rural communities — and not just here, but also where students go to build rewarding careers and personal lives,” said Johns.  “My own professional and life experiences provide me with broad perspectives and an appropriate lens to advocate for the Departments of Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant and to develop new programs in the health professions, build meaningful diverse relationships, and build out infrastructure to support all aspects of the Lewis School of Health Sciences.”

Johns has an undergraduate degree from Lock Haven University, a master of science degree in biology from Bucknell University, and a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Vermont. He has held many previous positions in his career and served 18 years in academic leadership roles. He is currently the Founding Director of the Athletic Training Program at Quinnipiac University and has also served as the Chair of Athletic Training & Sports Medicine,

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