Universities conduct research as a benefit to society, whether it is in the STEM fields, social sciences, business, medicine, law or the arts and humanities. Research that is being carried out at this time has never been more critical, and there is a pressing need to produce results at lightning speed.
While research in the biomedical fields has been accelerated to understand the COVID-19 virus and its effects on the human body—and to obtain answers about how to diagnose, control and prevent it through technology, therapies and treatment and ultimately provide immunity to it—the ramifications of this virus affect all other aspects of our livelihood, and thus, research is essential in virtually every other field as well.
It is not only the pandemic that necessitates urgent research and solutions. In response to the George Floyd tragedy, the university developed the University of South Florida Research Task Force on Understanding and Addressing Blackness and Anti-Black Racism in our Local, National and International Communities. USF committed $500,000 for the first round of a yearlong research grant program to support faculty research projects centered on issues of systemic racism. Just as we have been saying throughout the pandemic, we will get better when each and every one of us makes it our personal responsibility to promote justice and safety for all. Our university is united in our commitment to end racism and foster a truly inclusive culture.
All of the articles in this issue of Research: USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus were selected before these crises and as such, focus on other topics. However, the thrust of all of these articles can be considered within a current frame of reference as they demonstrate the connection between faculty research and societal issues, including quality of life financially, emotionally and as it pertains to age; personal safety and security; the rise of telemedicine; animals to counter loneliness; arts for human interaction; and instilling hope and self-respect among sex-trafficked and incarcerated individuals. Along with the research they conduct, the investigators provide significant community service—a feature that characterizes our campus.
We hope you enjoy this issue and appreciate the value of community-based research and support.
Karen A. Holbrook, PhD