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Research Projects Return to State Fair after COVID Interruption

External sign over the D2D building entrance

A year after the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered its gates, the Minnesota State Fair has returned with the Great Minnesota “Get-Back-Together”—and among the festivities is an opportunity for fairgoers to participate in world-class university research.

The University of Minnesota’s Driven to Discover (D2D) Research Facility allows visitors to devote a bit of their day to learning about University research and helping advance efforts to improve our health, well-being, and environment. During this year’s fair—which starts on Thursday, August 26, and continues through Labor Day on September 6—researchers will welcome visitors of all ages and backgrounds to volunteer for one of 36 ongoing studies.

For participants, the D2D facility is one way to directly participate in improving the world around them. For researchers, it’s an opportunity to reach a more diverse group of participants, meet study recruitment goals more quickly, and provide undergraduate and graduate students with valuable research experience.

Many of this year’s studies were rescheduled from 2020’s canceled lineup, with a handful of new studies coming on board to replace those not returning for 2021. Here are a few of the studies fairgoers can participate in:

  • Does Your Mask Fit U?—Linsey Griffin (College of Design) invites participants ages 12 and older who have received their COVID vaccine to participate in a face scan and test masks to help create better masks and head gear going forward.
  • Freshwater Sponges and Citizen Scientists!—Anthony Schroeder, Timothy Dudley, and Venu Mukku (UMN Crookston) teach fairgoers about freshwater sponges and recruit citizen scientists interested in locating and collecting sponges from Minnesota’s lakes and rivers.
  • Say What? Help Us Eliminate the Need for Doctor-to-English Translation—Michael Pitt and Jordan Marmet (Medical School) ask participants to help them spot the common phrases doctors say that patients may not understand, and to find better ways for doctors to communicate.
  • Self-Driving Shuttles Coming to Minnesota—Yingling Fan and Frank Douma (Center for Transportation Studies) ask fairgoers what they think of autonomous vehicles and what it would take to make them part of their daily commute.
  • Safe at School?—Ceema Samimi (College of Education and Human Development) asks participants what they think about the role of police in public schools.

See the full list of studies on the D2D Research Facility site and the daily schedule to see which dates and times each study will run.

Learn more about COVID-19 recommendations and precautions for this year’s fair.

Kevin Coss

Kevin Coss

Kevin is a writer with the Office of the Vice President for Research.

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