February 15, 2021
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Graduate student Chelsea Fowler was selected as one of six winners of the University System of Maryland (USM) COVID Research & Innovation Task Force's Public Health Challenge to highlight creative ways members of the USM community and all Marylanders can stay safe and healthy while waiting for a vaccine.
Undertaken with the generous support of several local organizations, the Task Force in mid-December invited members of the USM community to take part in this multimedia challenge and announced the six winning teams. Submissions were accepted in two categories—videos, and images—with the top three winners in each category receiving $3,000.
Winning teams come from several USM institutions: Towson University (TU); University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC); University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP); University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB); University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES).
All the entries IN LIVE ACTION OR ANIMATED AND DIGITAL IMAGES can be viewed here.
“The task force and the competition judges are grateful to see the creativity and effort from all the entries,” said Laurie Locascio, vice president for research at University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and chair of the COVID Task Force. “These messages about overcoming pandemic fatigue are important. It is gratifying to see the range of participation in this endeavor, with entries from various USM institutions that include undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni.”
“This was an important competition and our COVID Research & Innovation Task Force thanks the many sponsors who made it possible,” said Tom Sadowski, USM Vice Chancellor for Economic Development and member of the Task Force. “In the midst of a pandemic, it was amazing to see such creative minds, with limited resources, at work—the winners of this competition exemplify the type of leadership our community requires in these challenging times.”
Sadowski singled out the challenge sponsors for their generous support, including: the Maryland Marketing Partnership; BioHealth Innovation, Inc.; the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore; the Maryland Technology Council; Connected DMV; the Baltimore Metropolitan Council; and the USM Foundation.
The Public Health Challenge follows a recently launched statement and video pledge from all USM presidents to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations across Maryland, which can be read and viewed here.
In developing the challenge, the USM sought effective and engaging messaging to promote continued vigilance and compliance with public health guidelines, while also encouraging people to get vaccinated once doses become widely available. While recent positive news regarding COVID-19 vaccines offer real hope for overcoming the coronavirus pandemic, it may be several months before there is enough vaccine supply to be widely available to the public. The USM launched the competition to encourage people and communities to avoid “pandemic fatigue” and recommit to sound public health practices.
The competition was open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and alumni from all USM institutions. Live action videos, animated videos, or a package of images/memes suitable for a social media campaign were eligible.
USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman announced the formation of the COVID Research & Innovation Task Force in April. The task force is leveraging and mobilizing systemwide research and innovations to engage policymakers, business leaders, and the entrepreneurial community in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses and organizations seeking guidance or the ability to partner with USM institutions on specific initiatives can use the task force website to connect with system experts.