Professor spearheading effort to make surgical masks from high-end furnace filters

Dr. Suzanne Strait, who has taught thousands of West Virginia’s health care workers in her anatomy class in the College of Science, is spearheading an effort to rapidly produce surgical masks made from high-end furnace filters, and is looking for help from locals who can sew and are not immunocompromised.

She’s teamed up with former students Patricia Rogers and Dr. Rose Ayoob, as well as Dr. Hilary Brewster from Marshall’s Department of English, to organize a team to work separately and sew masks for local hospitals in need, as they are far more effective than cotton masks.

They have organized a website at and a Facebook page at “West Virginia Mask Army.”

“Many of our health professionals are about to put their lives on the line without proper personal protective gear,” said Strait, who is also director of West Virginia Science Adventures. “We still need many more people who can sew to help out. We have raised over $4,000 for this and we have almost all the supplies, but we need more fast, good people who can sew.”

“We know our hospitals will soon be inundated by people who are sick,” Strait said. “We know the supply chain is broken, and West Virginia will be in short supply. We have designed masks with doctors that will be more effective than a cotton mask. Wednesday is the day we’re trying to (have them to) the hospitals, and we hope to continue as long as needed.”

Anyone who can help is urged to visit the website or Facebook page for further information.