Coronavirus project receives Governor’s Award for Quality and Productivity

a glass award sits on one of the column bases

June 29, 2022

Researchers at the University of Missouri are part of a team that recently earned the Governor’s Award for Quality and Productivity. The award, given by Gov. Mike Parson, recognized the Coronavirus Sewershed Surveillance Project, a collaboration between MU, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

At MU, the project is led by Marc Johnson, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology; Chung-Ho Lin, a research associate professor and lead scientist in the bioremediation program at the MU Center for Agroforestry; and Hsinyeh Hsieh, senior research scientist.

Since July 2020, the team has tested thousands of wastewater samples — from more than 150 communities across Missouri — to help officials with statewide tracking of COVID-19. Their research method was able to detect the initial wave of community spread of the delta variant in Missouri, and subsequently the initial wave of community spread of the omicron variant in Missouri.

The project’s impact spreads beyond Missouri and has been used in places such as New York City, where they assisted the New York City Department of Environmental Protection with detecting the first omicron case in New York City that is noted in this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The Governor's Award for Quality and Productivity was established in 1988 to recognize service excellence, efficiency, innovation, process improvement and employee ingenuity within the Missouri state government.

The team was one of five teams honored at this year’s ceremony.

“I want to applaud all of our dedicated teams today who worked hard to improve the lives of all Missourians as well as those who pass through our state,” Gov. Mike Parson said. “These awarded projects will help keep our people safe, move Missouri forward and demonstrate why so many of our state team members are called into public service. It is thanks to their effort and commitment that these projects were able to become a reality.”

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