Shrum Receives NSF Grant for COVID-19 Research

Photo of Dr. Wesley M. Shrum, Jr.April 21, 2020
BATON ROUGE – Dr. Wesley M. Shrum, Jr., professor in the LSU Department of Sociology, was awarded a $100,218 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, also known as COVID-19. The grant, titled “A Comparative Study of How Context Shapes Responses to COVID-19,” will examine the role of exposure and locative fear, or the fear of people and spaces that could cause infection, in the response to the global pandemic of COVID-19.

This study will be the first to address comparative issues in a pandemic across both occupations and countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, as well as to contribute data to the global understanding of the ways cultural and political contexts shape responses to pandemics. Shrum’s research team will interview participants in the United States, Ghana, Kenya, India, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, and China.
“It’s a truly exciting opportunity, because we’re all in the same global boat here,” said Shrum. “We need to understand how different places are responding to this problem.”

These research findings will provide grounded guidance for policy makers and others seeking to understand the diversity of fears, risk perceptions, preparedness, and acceptable action in pandemics.

“Dr. Shrum is an internationally-known scholar with a tremendous amount of experience conducting research across many countries,” said Troy Blanchard, dean of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences. “This study will help answer some of the most important sociological questions about COVID-19, and these findings will be vital in understanding how people receive and respond to information about pandemics.”

Dr. Shrum’s area of research expertise is the sociology of science and technology, particularly in the developing world. This study combines techniques and research locations from his previous NSF-funded work during the Ebola and Zika epidemics.

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Contact Sarah Gaar Keller
LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations