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John Brooks Slaughter is a professor of education and engineering in the Rossier School of Education and Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). A former director of the National Science Foundation, chancellor of the University of Maryland, College Park, and president of Occidental College, he has served for ...
David Walt is the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Bioinspired Engineering at Harvard Medical School, professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Core Faculty Member of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, and codirector of the Mass General Brigham ...
John L. Anderson is president of the National Academy of Engineering since July 1, 2019. He was born in Wilmington, DE, and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Delaware in 1967 and PhD degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1971, both in chemical engineering. He was most recently Distinguished Professor ...
Sabina Alkire directs the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and is associate professor of development studies in the Oxford Department of International Development at the University of Oxford. Her research interests include multidimensional poverty measurement and analysis, welfare economics, the capability approach, the ...
Engineering for Pandemics: Preparedness, Response, and Recovery
“It’s as bad as anything can be…all the theatres and nearly all the shops and restaurants are closed, and the streets have been full of funerals all day and ambulances all night.”
– Katherine Anne Porter, Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939)
Those words were written about the influenza pandemic of 1918. The description was tragically accurate a century later, as a novel coronavirus, covid-19, swept the world in a matter of weeks. Lives and livelihoods were ended, businesses and global supply chains were disrupted, national and local economies tanked. Healthcare and other workers deemed essential were pressed into service with inadequate protection, risking their health and that of their families. Educators scrambled to complete the academic year. Socioeconomic and racial disparities led to differential impacts. Governments at all levels struggle to make the best decisions with conflicting information and limited resources. The long-term consequences are as yet unknown.
Despite experiences with the 1918 flu and other, more recent diseases that spread quickly (e.g., SARS, AIDS, MERS), nearly everyone was caught unprepared by covid-19. What lessons need to be learned to prepare effectively for future pandemics? Experience shows that they will surely occur, especially as the world gets “smaller” and more interconnected through travel and trade.
At this year’s NAE annual meeting, the plenary speakers and technical forum panelists will offer their perspectives on such health scourges, their impacts, and the role of engineering in preparing for and addressing them.
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