The first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. was identified on January 20, 2020 with the first death in late February 2020. Since then, it has spread into a pandemic that swept the country and the globe with impacts to human health, the economy, and inequitably impacting society. Chapman faculty, staff, and students have responded in unexpected ways donating face shields, offering free counseling services, and working in health care front lines. In addition, Chapman University began research to evaluate the health, social, and economic impacts of the virus, which continues.

On Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 11:30 AM PST, join Chapman University’s Vice President for Research Thomas Piechota as he moderates Town and Gown’s next virtual Lunch at the Forum – COVID-19 One Year Later: Its Impacts on Health, Society, and the Economy. Dr. Piechota will be joined by both Chapman faculty and students researching COVID-19. The group will look back one year from when COVID-19 first impacted the U.S.


Faculty Guests

David Frederick, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology in the Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Frederick launched the Chapman University COVID-19 National Mental Health Study and will share insights from the 4,000 participants on how the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing are impacting people’s mental health, physical health, romantic relationships, and experiences of prejudice and discrimination.

Steven Gjerstad, Ph.D., is Presidential Fellow in the Economic Science Institute and the George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics. He will be providing an overview of the COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.  He will also review recent studies of the efficacy of the vaccines against the COVID-19 variants.

Jennifer Totonchy, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Immunology and Immunotherapeutics at the School of Pharmacy. She teaches immunology and vaccine formulation in the Doctor of Pharmacy program. She is an accomplished viral immunologist and has worked on host-virus interactions for both DNA and RNA viruses. Her laboratory is currently focused on infection of human B cells with Kaposi Sarcoma Herpesvirus.

Student Guests

Debbie Nguyen is a Psychology major currently attending Chapman University pursuing a career in the field of global healthcare. Ms. Nguyen cowrote two articles with Dr. Frederick and is assisting with the draft of a third article on ethnic prejudice people experienced due to the links drawn between their ethnicity and COVID-19.  Her own research is on how ethnic identity and religiosity relate to prejudice towards LGBT men and women.

Sara Iisaka, is a double major in Psychology and Dance at Chapman University. Ms. Iisaka assisted Dr. Fredrick with preparing multiple manuscripts as part of his Kay Family Foundation Grant titled, Applying Big Data Analytic Techniques to Understand the Predictors and Prevalence of Body Image Disturbances and Disordered Eating Patterns in National Samples. She is currently researching how COVID-19 is impacting exercise, eating, and body image.


Thomas Piechota Ph.D., PE, F.ASCE,  is the Vice President for Research at Chapman University and Professor of Schmid College of Science and Technology. Dr. Piechota received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UCLA, and certificate from the Harvard Institute for Educational Management. He has authored or coauthored more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, conference proceedings and reports, and has served on review panels for the National Science Foundation, city and state boards and committees, and various federal agencies. Dr. Piechota is a registered Civil Engineer in the State of California. Dr. Piechota has recently been hosting Ask the Expert Town Halls where Chapman faculty experts discuss topics of importance to society and the community.