COVID Conversations

A series highlighting community responses from different vantage points.

SDSU is organizing a day-long symposium as a regional reflection on life and scholarship during the pandemic, and a prospective look at the future, post-pandemic life. 


San Diego State University became a center of gravity for vital regional public health practice, a leader in exploring new ways of teaching and learning, and a living laboratory for how to safely engage with culture, community, and the arts in the dynamic hybrid environment we have been managing.

The symposium will be held virtually on Friday, April 15, 2022 from 8:45 to 4:15 p.m.

This symposium will address four topics over four sessions:

Session 1: The Science of COVID and Infectious Disease

9:00am - 10:30am

Moderated by Stanley Maloy, PhD, Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation, SDSU Division of Research and Innovation

We have known for a long time that humans co-exist with microbes. COVID-19 brought a new awareness of viral life cycles and biochemistry. Terms like “mRNA” have become commonplace, even if common understanding of the science that underpins many terms may still be lacking. This session will explore what was known about viral ecology, and how COVID-19 presented new opportunities and discoveries in the basic biology of microbes.

Naveen Vaidya, PhD, MSc
Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Quantitative characterization of infection dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 Within a Host

This talk will present mathematical models describing the dynamics of virus particles, target cells, and immune responses. Using the experimental data from ferrets (animal model) and humans, we characterize the viral dynamics properties of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Ian McHardy, PhD, D(ABMM)
Director, Clinical Microbiology & Core Laboratory at Scripps Health

Clinical Laboratory Pandemic Experience: How it started & How its going

Pandemic perspective from a high-volume clinical laboratory.  Retrospective review of observations, challenges, and insights.

Susan M Kiene, PhD, MPH
Professor of Global Health

From HIV to COVID-19 and Back: The need for a global pivot in applying our scientific knowledge and collaborations.

This talk will discuss successes and challenges in applying existing knowledge about how to increase access to HIV testing to COVID-19 testing, missed opportunities for global collaboration, and how we adjust our approach for success in the future.

Lucy Horton, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases
UC San Diego Health

COVID for the Long Haul

Discussion of post-acute COVID-19 conditions, including Long COVID; common signs and symptoms of Long COVID, emerging research about what causes Long COVID and the role of vaccination. 

Session 2: Mental Health, Social Health, and Education

10:45am - 12:15pm

Moderated by Sascha Longstreth, PhD, Interim Chair and Associate Professor, Child and Family Development, SDSU College of Education

COVID-19 amplified persistent threats to our mental and social health systems, and entirely revamped education delivery with attendant impacts on family mental health. The pandemic has been typified by almost relentless uncertainty, and our management strategies may have deepened feeling of anxiety and social isolation. This session will explore the link between pandemic operating practices and the incidence of mental health disorders and explore strategies to improve mental health and sense of wellbeing.

Amanda Choflet, DNP, RN, NEA-BC
Assistant Professor, SDSU School of Nursing
Judy Dye, PhD, APRN ANP-BC
Assistant Professor, SDSU School of Nursing

Covid-19 and Nurse Anxiety, Coping, and Resilience

A quantitative cross-sectional correlational survey design was used to examine self-reported anxiety, depression, and resilience of registered nurses at a Southern California healthcare system. The initial survey showed a concerning number of nurses experiencing depression and anxiety as well as low levels of personal resilience.

Lisa Linder, PhD
Assistant Professor - Clinical Psychologist

The Impact of COVID on Children's Mental Health

A brief description of the Healthy Early Years Clinic, who and how we serve clients in the county. The impact of pandemic phases on children and families that we work with in SD. Rise in mental health-related issues and increase in serious mental health issues in children younger than historically seen and increase in risk/danger to children. How children have returned to school and impact of the pandemic on current academic functioning and progress.

Sarah Lyman, MBA
Executive Director of Alliance Healthcare Foundation

Philanthropy's Pivots in Response to COVID

Reflections on philanthropy's local response to COVID, and lessons learned that are here to stay.

Helina Hoyt PhD, RN, PHN
SDSU IV Nursing Program Coordinator & RISE Center Co-Leader

SDSU IV RISE Leveraging Education to Meet Imperial Valley COVID Needs

Building infrastructure around Research, Innovation, and Student Engagement has been paramount in the rural, border region of Imperial County, CA and allowed for a quick response to COVID related needs in the region that has been devastated by the pandemic.Session 3: Regional Public Health and Surveillance

Session 3: Regional Public Health and Surveillance

1:00pm - 2:30pm

Moderated by Giang Pham, PhD, Associate Dean for Research, SDSU College of Health and Human Services

Communicability of COVID-19 viruses has been a major challenge of this pandemic. Using existing and novel tools, San Diego responded with communication, outreach, and sophisticated infectious disease tracing infrastructure optimized for our demographically diverse region. This session will explore what systems were in place, what new processes have been created, and how public health principles can help manage the next phase of the pandemic.

Eyal Oren, PhD, MS
Interim Director and Professor, School of Public Health

Community-Driven Approaches to the COVID-19 Pandemic Build Public Health Infrastructure in San Diego

Through a number of initiatives, SDSU’s School of Public Health has been collaborating with agency and community partners during the COVID-19 epidemic. I will highlight a variety of novel testing strategies, contact tracing approaches, and disease modeling collaborations, all of which are designed to help the most vulnerable populations impacted by the pandemic. Disease control activities during COVID-19 provide lessons learned in preventing future pandemics.

Noe Crespo, PhD
Associate Professor

Health Disparities and COVID-19: Lessons Learned

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and compounded existing health disparities in the U.S. Understanding the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on minority and underserved communities is critical in informing current and future public health efforts.

Elisa Sobo, PhD
Professor and Chair, SDSU Department of Anthropology

 'Vaccine Hesitancy' Construct Fails to Explain Non-Vaccination for COVID-19

Thanks to the pandemic, most people know about ‘vaccine hesitancy.’ But findings from a national study of the vaccine’s roll-out that included San Diego's South Region confirm what the pediatric vaccination literature had already indicated: the ‘vaccine hesitancy’ label hobbles public health efforts by eliding the complexity of vaccine-related decision-making and diverting attention from structural barriers.

Wilma J Wooten, MD, MPH
Public Health Officer, Public Health Services
County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency

Strategic Approaches Utilized by the County of San Diego in Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed lives and impacted how local public health jurisdictions respond to public health threats. This presentation will review approaches utilized by the County of San Diego in response to this pandemic, protecting the lives of the local population. Approaches include coordinating a standardized emergency response, leveraging existing partnerships, conducting internal and external communication strategies, and providing equitable access to testing and vaccination efforts. All these approaches were strategic to diminish illness, hospitalization, and death from SARS-CoV-2 in San Diego County.

Session 4: The Future

2:45pm - 4:15pm

Moderated by John Crockett, PhD, Associate Vice President for Research Advancement, SDSU Division of Research and Innovation

Few topics related to COVID-19 have been as engaging as asking the question: What happens next? A variety of widely accepted practices such as “work from anywhere”, masking, social distance/outdoor dining balance the needs for safety in the face of an ongoing infectious pandemic, and our human need for connection. This panel will discuss what a post-pandemic San Diego might look like, what practices might be valuable and preserved, and how San Diego will go about rebuilding the interconnected vibrancy of the region.

Chuck Matthews, PhD, MBA, MS
Director Departmental Operations
Health & Human Services, County of San Diego
Temporary Assignment: COVID-19 Incident Command, T3

The Key is All of Us Together

The future of COVID and our strategic approach includes us all.  Only by continuing and building upon what we have developed together will we thrive.

Stanley Maloy, PhD
Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation
San Diego State University

What's next for Institutions of Higher Education?

Institutions of Higher Education have to rethink their "new normal" for both keeping staff to providing education and educational services. We will discuss some of the lessons learned and some of the skills that will be fundamental for the workforce of tomorrow.

Rob Bujarski
Chief Operating Officer

The process and evolution of testing and addressing the needs globally.

A diagnostic company's perspective on pandemic response and the global approach that is required to respond effectively.