Ball State experienced an unprecedented year in 2020 as it navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the virus grabbed a lot of headlines, it didn’t change Ball State’s commitment to its core mission of providing an engaging education that leads to fulfilling careers and meaningful lives.

Check out some of these top stories from Ball State over the last year.

Medical breakthrough

Biology students have accomplished something few students get the chance to do in their college careers — make a crucial discovery that could lead to new treatments for diseases, including diabetes and cancer.

Led by Eric (VJ) Rubenstein, associate professor of biology, a group of current and former students have identified two molecules they compare to tow trucks that help keep cells healthy.

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Early warning system

A new COVID-19 early warning system named TIPPERS may revolutionize the battle against pandemics thanks to the engineering skills of Chris Davison, a professor in the Center for Information and Communication Sciences.

“The system is a way to warn people if they might have been exposed to someone who has been infected,” Davison said. “It also allows organizations to monitor their social distancing policies throughout a building, including everything from a large conference room to an office.”

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Saving the day

Ball CenterEarlier this year, two residential property management students were learning to conduct building inspections on the top floor of the historic E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center mansion when they noticed water-related damage.
Later, another group from the same class of students found a similar problem. As a result of their discoveries, Ball State was able to save the mansion. Built in 1906, the mansion still has most of its original finishes, like plaster walls, custom woodwork, and stained glass that would have been damaged if the property management students had not discovered this issue.

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No Ouija boards allowed

Not every campus has a ghost archeologist.

Erin Powers, a staff archaeologist at Ball State’s Applied Anthropology Laboratories, answered five questions about her research, explaining how ghost archaeology presents a full narrative of what happened in a particular place associated with legends and myths.

She’s more interested in the manmade objects, or artifacts, and structures associated with legends and myths, and what they can tell us about human activity.

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Saving the environment

In September, Ball State notched another victory in its sustainability efforts with the announcement that the new Health Professions Building earned a LEED Gold Certification.

The news affirms Ball State’s long-term commitment to environmental best practices, and the building is the 14th structure on campus to earn a LEED certification. This project is one of several on a campus striving to make an ecological difference.

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Listen (virtually) to the music

Basson BlogWhen COVID-19 sent a group of bassoonists home for the semester, they decided to use their musical talents to help others.

Over the summer, a group of musicians performed as part of an effort to feed people amid the economic issues caused by the pandemic. A group of Ball State students and recent graduates from the School of Music in the College of Fine Arts posted weekly bassoon ensemble performances as part of Bassoons Filling Bellies, and then directed grateful music lovers to contribute to a Feeding America fundraiser.

The bassoonists have been able to raise funds to provide more than 13,750 meals.

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Texting to immigrant moms

Two Ball State University professors are developing a text-based messaging service to provide information about maternal and child health to Burmese refugees now living in Indianapolis.

The project, which is under the direction of Mengxi Zhang and Jean Marie Place, health science professors in Ball State’s College of Health, will provide tailored health information with around 500 text messages translated into two commonly spoken Burmese languages within the Indianapolis Burmese community: Hakha Chin and Burmese.

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No more honked off geese

Weighing in at 20 pounds and with a wingspan of nearly five feet, the Canada goose can turn aggressive in a heartbeat when it feels its nesting area is threatened.

But student researchers witnessed a much calmer bird in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of fewer humans walking, running, or mingling near nesting sites in and around Indianapolis, researchers have seen fewer goose attacks.

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Helping COVID-19 patients eat properly

Amy AmyxAs one of the registered dietitians at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, Amy Amyx, ’00, is working on the frontlines during the pandemic as a certified nutrition support clinician.

She attends to the nutritional needs of intensive care unit patients who must be fed through tubes or IVs. She works to determine the best prescription of carbohydrates, protein, fat, electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals to meet each patient’s needs.

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