How Scientists and Engineers Who Aren't on the Front Lines of the Coronavirus Outbreak Can Help

by User Not Found | Mar 30, 2020

Healthcare worker in surgical mask

A healthcare worker wears a surgical mask, one type of personal protection equipment needed in the coronavirus outbreak. Image by Vesna Harni from Pixabay. 

Some scientists and healthcare workers are on the front lines to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, but even if the specific science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) that you work on isn’t, you can still contribute to the world’s efforts against the coronavirus outbreak. 

Below are opportunities that people from all backgrounds in the STEM community can use to help fight COVID-19 and support students who have been displaced from campuses. 

Run Simulations on Your Home Computer to Search for a Cure

Folding@Home is a project that invites the public to lend their computing power to run simulations that look for new therapeutic opportunities for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. 

Donate Personal Protective Equipment to Hospitals


    This website aims to match U.S.-based hospitals and other medical-related facilities with people who can donate or make personal protection equipment (PPE).

  • PPE Link
    This website calls on research labs to donate their equipment, and Sigma Xi member Zahra Kahn is on the team leading the effort.

  • The University of Utah is one example of an academic institution coordinating efforts to donate personal protective equipment on their campus. Is your local academic institution doing something similar, or could they?

  • People around the world are donating equipment.

    • In the United Kingdom: The Institute of Conservation has coordinated PPE donations to hospitals.

    • In Canada: The nonprofit SafeCareBC launched Operation Protect, a drive for PPE donations, in partnership with Provincial Health Services and the Ministry of Health.

    • In China: The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China is asking it members and stakeholders to donate medical equipment.

    • In the United States, @ScientistLiz and @PlanetDr are examples of scientists posting on social media about their lab's donations to local hospitals.

Sign Up on the United States Scientist Volunteer Database

A volunteer database has been created of scientists based in the United States who are ready and willing to deploy their advanced skills, expertise, and access to reagents/equipment towards the fight against COVID-19 in their local communities.

Donate to Fundraisers Helping Students Who Have Been Displaced from Colleges and Universities 

A couple examples:

  • George Mason University FAST Fund

    Rebecca Jones, president of the George Mason University Chapter of Sigma Xi, is leading efforts to support the university’s students by securing rapid, emergency financial support from the nonprofit Believe in Students’ FAST Fund. The fund gave her $5,000, but she has received many more applications from students than that amount can support so she is seeking more donations to help more students.  

    “Students have lost their on-campus jobs, been displaced from residence halls, and forced to resume coursework, all online. In their applications, many students expressed difficulty paying bills such as rent and being unsure how they can buy groceries or gas in the coming weeks,” she wrote. 

    You can indicate on your donation that you wish that your gift goes to the George Mason University FAST Fund site. 

  • Emergency Funding for University of Texas Students
    Individual institutions are fundraising to support students. The University of Texas, for example, has raised more than $380,000. 

Look for Ways to Support Healthcare Workers Directly

In Australia, teachers are offering childcare services and other home-based help to healthcare workers.

What resources have you found to share your STEM expertise or skills with the fight against COVID-19? Share your stories in the comments below.


Heather Thorstensen is the manager of communications for Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society. 

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