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Podcast: Science With A Twist

Episode Summary

In 2020, we had hoped that 2021 would signify the end of the coronavirus. But, here we are, in 2022, and the pandemic is still going on.

Fortunately, things do seem to be getting back to normal, but we still have a long way to go before we can say that coronavirus is over. Therefore, new technology to help fight the virus is becoming increasingly important.

In this episode of Science with a Twist, Miguel Faustino and Michelle Jensen join our host, Ron O'Brien to discuss the AerosolSense Sampler paired with PCR testing, a solution designed to detect the presence of coronavirus in the air.

Miguel is the President of the Chemical Analysis Business at Thermo Fisher Scientific, which developed the AerosolSense Sampler. Michelle is the District Administrator for Deerfield Community School District, and the schools she manages are part of a pilot project using the device. 

Miguel shares what the device is and explains how it works, while Michelle discusses the implementation of AerosolSense Sampler in schools and its results.


Video Highlight





Guest Profiles


Miguel Faustino

President, Chemical Analysis Business 

Thermo Fisher Scientific

 

Noteworthy: Michelle and Miguel played a role (each in their field) in the fight against the pandemic. Now, they have joined forces, one, whose team created, and the other who is a user of the AerosolSense Sampler, a solution designed to detect the presence of coronavirus in indoor air.

 

Where to find him: LinkedIn






Michelle Jensen

District Administrator

Deerfield Community School District

 

Noteworthy: Michelle and Miguel played a role (each in their field) in the fight against the pandemic. Now, they have joined forces, one, whose team created, and the other who is a user of the AerosolSense Sampler, a solution designed to detect the presence of coronavirus in indoor air.

 

Where to find her: Website



Quotation marks
The AerosolSense Sampler is about the size of a toaster oven with a small stack on top of it. So once it's plugged in and you've inserted the cartridge, you turn it on and the stack draws air inside.

Miguel Faustino
President, Chemical Analysis Business
Thermo Fisher Scientific

Key Insights



The AerosolSense Sampler is an in-air pathogen monitoring solution. Miguel introduced the AerosolSense Sampler, a new technology that can be used in conjunction with other risk mitigation tools (masks, vaccines, testing) in the fight against COVID-19. It is designed to detect the presence of coronavirus and other airborne pathogens in the air in indoor spaces. ''So essentially, the way it works is that our tool, the AerosolSense unit, draws in air from the room it's in. And it can be deployed virtually anywhere. It'll run for 2 to 12 hours, that's what we would typically recommend. It'll create a sample, which is then analyzed via PCR. Just as you would analyze a sample for an individual to determine whether or not they are infected with the coronavirus.''

Renvo makes the entire process more effective. As Miguel explains, when they first launched the solution, they had to take the sample to a lab and wait for up to 24 hours for the results. However, Renvo, a rapid PCR test, was developed to speed up the entire process. ''It allows us to bring it into the same space as the AerosolSense unit to be able to offer an answer as to whether or not coronavirus is present within about 30 minutes. Equally as important is that the sample transfer and preparation is very safe because it's intended to be used by virtually anyone who has the ability to follow our very brief video-based training program and to do so in a way where they are not put at significant risk of contracting the virus.''

AerosolSense paired with other protective measures is the path to a safe school. Once they launched AerosolSense, Thermo Fisher started a pilot project involving schools. Michelle Jensen of Deerfield Community School District saw this as a fantastic opportunity to improve two-year-old mitigation strategies. At first, they only got negative results, but AerosolSense detected coronavirus in their school after three or four weeks. ''When we have a positive in the same week that we have a negative, it does tell me that people are doing the strategies that we asked. Parents are remembering to keep students home and going and getting tested as soon as possible,'' says Michelle.





Quotation marks
When we have a positive in the same week that we have a negative, it does tell me that people are doing the strategies that we asked

Michelle Jensen
District Administrator
Deerfield Community School District


Episode Highlights



Introducing AerosolSense Solution

''If there's one thing we've learned it’s that there's no one single solution that ensures our safety.

 

So the AerosolSense solution, when paired with PCR analysis, can be used to detect and identify the presence of coronavirus in the air around us, which is incredibly powerful when complemented by those other tools that are currently available to us today.

 

[...] Put yourself in the shoes of a decision-maker in a school, or perhaps an office or a government building. You're constantly seeking ways to help guide your safety protocols, whether it's wearing a mask, social distancing, or some form of an asymptomatic testing program.

 

You want to be able to make those decisions based on data. And environmental surveillance using the AerosolSense technology gives you data that tells you, with a high degree of confidence, whether or not the coronavirus is present in the air around you,'' explains Miguel.



How Does AersolSense Work?

''AerosolSense [...] is about the size of a toaster oven with a small stack on top of it. So once it's plugged in and you've inserted the cartridge, you turn it on and the stack draws air inside.

 

A sample is collected in a substrate inside of the cartridge. Once you've run it for your desired timeframe, and we recommend anywhere from 2 to 12 hours, you can then take that sample and have it analyzed via PCR.

 

So it's a highly transportable system, easy to use and operate, and it gives you highly reliable data in a flexible environment such that you can dictate how long you run it for,'' explains Miguel.


Implementing Solutions Such as AerosolSense in Schools Requires Transparency

''I have been very transparent about this pilot project. So back in September, when I first heard about it, I shared it with my administrative team. I also shared it with the school board at the next board meeting.

 

I gave them a COVID plan update with a number of different topics. So I introduced it to them at the same time and also to our staff. I wanted everybody to be fully aware of what it was doing.

 

I wanted to make sure that I was in front of the messaging, so they understood how we would use it as another device giving a metric of building safety or building health.

 

The same thing with the families, of course, if we think about how oftentimes messaging gets home to families — it gets home through students.

 

So as soon as students were a part of the daily work of this — putting the cartridges in and out, and being able to ask questions about it — that messaging right there and the curiosity and science that goes with this amazing tool were instantly transferred to the home in a very positive way. They [students] realized that they're also getting to be a part of real-time research,'' concludes Michelle.