CRISIS and Research Teams

a group of students performing a dissection in class

TIP goes viral

The bubonic plague. Spanish flu. Swine flu. Bird flu.

Since ancient times, pandemics have shaped world history, affecting where millions of people live, how they behave, and the destiny of millions.

Pandemics are caused by viruses: tiny pieces of RNA that have the ability to attack and sicken large numbers of people. The world will never be rid of viruses. Public health officials throughout the world say it’s a matter of when—not if—the next pandemic will happen. 

Based on recent reports, the World Health Organization is concerned that an imminent influenza outbreak is on the horizon. As experts in their fields, TIP CRISIS students will do their part to prevent, prepare for, and contain the outbreak before it grows to pandemic proportions.

With TIPsters from across the nation, they will examine the potential pandemic from the perspective of medical professionals, biomedical engineers, journalists, scientific researchers, government officials, and financial leaders.

Research teams

Students can choose among these six research teams. However, CRISIS emphasizes interdisciplinary learning and the opportunity to explore different topics. Students will work across research teams during the program. Learn more in the Academic Life section.

Biomedical Engineering

Students interested in math, science, and medicine work to create medical products that might solve the pandemic.

Biomedical engineers bridge the gap between engineering and medicine. Through research and development, biomedical engineers design, test, and implement new devices, therapies, and diagnostics to improve health care. Requiring knowledge of design and engineering, in addition to an understanding of biological sciences, biomedical engineers must think critically to solve problems.

As a biomedical engineering team member, you will focus on developing and implementing new products and techniques to address issues of diagnostics, hygiene, and treatment for a pandemic outbreak. During the week, you will push the boundaries of medicine as you:

  • understand the basic engineering principles utilized by engineers
  • understand how medical devices and diagnostics work to improve health care
  • identify areas where improved diagnostic and treatment technology could affect the response to an influenza pandemic
  • understand the physiology of the respiratory system and how viruses get into the body 

Broadcast and Print Media 

Students interested in English, journalism, and the media learn how to package the news of the pandemic and communicate to the public without spreading panic.

Journalists, reporters, videographers, and broadcast anchors investigate and obtain accurate information to distribute through television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet. Use technology and your research skills to gather information the public needs to know. Help people understand the situation around them, promote the public’s well-being, and claim a share of the market.

During the week, you will bring vital news to the people as you:

  • write, film, and edit a news story using the best practices of disaster reporting
  • define citizen journalism and identify the impact social media has on the news, and manage the message
  • explore the ethical difficulties that drive journalists and the ethical difficulties that arise when covering a crisis
  • learn the basic structure of news stories, the importance of good writing, the different types of stories journalists report before and after a crisis, and the reasons for different types of reporting


Students interested in science, medicine, and research learn how to develop the drugs that can strengthen immune systems and prevent the virus from spreading.

Understanding a viral infection requires an understanding of the immune system and the virus itself. Epidemiologists, along with pharmacologists and immunologists, work to identify the causes, patterns, and long-term effects of viral infections. This involves studying the virus, the immune response to the virus, and the role that drugs and vaccines play in the development of antibodies to fight infection.

As a member of this research team, during the week you will work to help the human body fight back as you:

  • analyze how a virus infects the body, makes copies of itself, and spreads to infect other people in the surrounding environment
  • study the immune response to viral infection and how this impacts a population both in the short and long term
  • examine the process for developing drugs and vaccines, including the development, testing, and production of these medicines
  • create a response plan for the development and distribution of treatment and apply this to the prevention of future influenza pandemics

Finance and the Global Economy 

Students interested in math, economics, and business work to keep the pandemic from endangering the global economy.

Finance professionals assess and manage assets, liabilities, and risk in order to make sound financial decisions. The stakes are high: all major world events have an effect on world markets and finance, and studies have found that a severe pandemic flu outbreak could result in the second worst recession in the United States since World War II.

As a member of the Finance and Global Economy research team, you will track the bottom line as you:

  • identify the factors that drive United States and worldwide financial markets
  • predict the local and worldwide financial impact of the pandemic
  • examine the practice behind financial management and assess the pandemic’s financial impact
  • learn key financial concepts such as time value of money, expected value, risk management, and inflation
  • study the statistics, algebra, and other mathematical concepts used by finance professionals

Government and International Politics 

Students interested in politics and international relations come together to ensure that the world’s governments can respond to the crisis.

As we become more interdependent, global relations are paramount in times of crisis. It is the responsibility of governments and their agencies to work to protect citizens. Take on the role of a government official to oversee all four phases of emergency management: preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.

Determine the appropriate use of government resources, and decide how and when government agencies like FEMA, the CDC, and the NIH should step in to manage those resources, coordinate planning, and prevent conflict between the sometimes competing agendas of various world governments. During the week, you will step up to protect all citizens as you:

  • learn about the government systems that organize and coordinate policy and implementation of programs
  • analyze the government preparation for a pandemic and its response to recent and historical pandemics and epidemics
  • debate as an elected official the government’s economic, social, and political role in times of national crisis
  • learn to recognize the complex nature of government vs. citizen responsibility
  • define the roles of international agencies and the process of a worldwide response

Medical Response 

Students interested in science and medicine learn how to assess the damage and save the lives of patients in an emergency situation.

In an emergency, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists work with emergency response teams to ensure medical care is available where it is needed. Work as a medical professional, identifying the symptoms most likely to occur and developing plans to deliver needed personnel, medications, equipment, and supplies to those in need.

During the week, you will work to save lives as you:

  • examine the ethical issues medical experts face when placed in an emergency situation and the long-lasting impact these issues could have on both doctors and patients
  • learn and analyze current hospital procedures and protocols for emergency preparation
  • identify the systems of the human body and study the physical symptoms and effects of a viral pathogen
  • discover the precautions that can be taken to minimize the spread of infection and reduce the number of casualties during a pandemic