Clarkson University Testing Wastewater for COVID-19

Swab testing and contact tracing are two of the most common forms of coronavirus mitigation. Shane Rogers, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Clarkson, and his Wastewater Engineering and Design Civil and Environmental Engineering class have added a more unusual one to the mix: analyzing sewage.

Professor Shane Rogers and his class prepare one of the outdoor water pump machines that will collect waste water from campus residence halls.

Provost Hannigan ensured investments for new technology were available to support the University’s Restart and innovative ways of monitoring and containing COVID. Clarkson has recently been conducting wastewater-based epidemiology where he and the students analyze sewage samples for traces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It gives the University a way to quickly and repeatedly look for real-time traces of the virus in specific groups of people–in this case, residence halls –as part of an early warning system to monitor cases of COVID-19, particularly any asymptomatic cases.

“Detection in sewage provides an indicator of potential new cases on campus and provides another layer of security in the network of protective measures that the University has deployed,” Rogers said.

Rogers and his team of graduate and undergraduate students are also performing these tests at other local universities and in the village of Potsdam. They are holding a virtual news conference on the testing on Friday afternoon.

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