New book about COVID-19 features UHV faculty, students

Hardik Gohel
Hashimul Ehsan
Gen Kaneko
Alisha Merchant
Tania Vidal Hernandez
Mahaly Baptiste

A University of Houston-Victoria faculty member is one of five editors of a book that recently was published about computational approaches to mitigate Sars-COV-2 infection and includes the research and work of UHV faculty and students.

The book, “Computational Approaches for Novel Therapeutic and Diagnostic Designing to Mitigate Sars-COV-2 Infection: Revolutionary Strategies to Combat Pandemics” published in July. Hardik Gohel, an assistant professor of computer science, is one of five editors of the 25-chapter book, which features research from faculty from around the world, including two UHV faculty members and three UHV students. The book is published by Academic Press of Elsevier.

“This research is critical because the pandemic has lasted since 2020, and we are still feeling the aftershocks of it,” Gohel said. “This book highlights important research about the virus while giving a platform for current students and our alumni. It shows how the work they do in class applies to health care and the research done in health care.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, very little information about the virus was known, including the viral infection process, detection and all the different aspects of a pandemic. There also was little data of the virus, which is useful in artificial intelligence, biosensors, therapies and more in health care science. At that time, Gohel was in contact with different collaborators in India and other countries to create a comprehensive publication about solutions and research about the virus.

Gohel and the editors prepared a proposal for the publisher and decided to edit a book. Once the book was approved, the editors sent out a call to researchers to submit chapters. Gen Kaneko, a UHV assistant professor of biology, and Hashimul Ehsan, assistant professor of biology and director of the Master of Science in biomedical science program, showed interest in submitting a chapter, Gohel said.

Students in the UHV biomedical science master’s program had worked on the topic of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic until spring 2021 with Ehsan. They based their research on the information that was available during that time, including the process of COVID-19 and how it effects the body, the vaccinations available and the variants of the virus up to that point. Mahaly Baptiste, of Austin; Alisha Merchant of Houston; and Tania Vidal Hernandez of Houston were the students who worked on the research. This is the first time for all of the students to have their research and work published in a book. The students received guidance and support from Ehsan and Kaneko on the project.

Merchant and Vidal did much of the writing, Kaneko said. Merchant works for the Harris County Public Health Department, and Vidal works in cardiovascular electrophysiology for Biosense Webster, which is a part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. It took about six months to finish the first draft of the chapter, and then an additional three months of editing, reviewing and updating. There were times when the two had long nights working on the manuscript, which was challenging as the two worked and Vidal had a newborn baby at the time, Vidal said. Merchant also will present the chapter for a session of UHV Discovers in the fall.

“This was extremely helpful and working on a project like this definitely opened a lot of doors for us and helped us figure out how to make important information digestible to the general public,” Merchant said. “The project also taught us all leadership skills and how to be a team player, which is an extremely important skill to have.”

Vidal also designed and created the images used in the chapter. This was a long and challenging process, as the images also had to communicate information that is both easy to understand and give guidance when reading the book. However, the work was worth it, and will help in her career, she said.

“Being considered an expert in the matter and being published is something that is always going to give an advantage,” Vidal said. “When I finish my master’s degree in biomedical science and start applying for my Ph.D., I will always have proof of my hard work, commitment and dedication.”

For her part, Baptiste helped edit the chapter and rewrote some of the research to make the content easier to understand. Baptiste currently works as a project coordinator in a lab for the Baylor College of Medicine. As an alumna of the UHV master’s in biomedical sciences program, she was able to acquire the skills necessary to read new research papers and convey the information effectively so that any person could easily understand the content, which helped her with editing the chapter and in her job.

“I am glad that in the UHV program, I had professors like Dr. Ehsan and Dr. Kaneko who are supportive and give great guidance. They were both always available to discuss the project so that we never felt alone,” Baptiste said. “I am thankful to have had such great professors in this program.”

This project was an efficient way for the students to learn and enhance their abilities to understand scientific language, Kaneko said.

“This was a great opportunity during the pandemic to learn about the virus and serves as a contribution from UHV,” Ehsan said. “This is the first book chapter for our graduate students, and we proud of the work they have done.”

There is potential for more collaboration between the computer science and biology programs at UHV, Gohel said.

“We have great biomedical sciences, data science, artificial intelligence, computer science and more programs here at UHV, and I look forward to similar projects and collaborations in the future,” Gohel said.

“Computational Approaches for Novel Therapeutic and Diagnostic Designing to Mitigate Sars-COV-2 Infection: Revolutionary Strategies to Combat Pandemics” can be found online in several places, including, and the National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Amber Aldaco