Alfred University News

Adrian Morling leads Alfred University’s COVID Testing Team: "We had a task to complete."

Adrian Morling
Adrian Morling

In the early months of the COVID-19 crisis, as Alfred University began planning the reopening of the campus for fall classes, a University task force was established to oversee a key element of the plan: regular clinical testing of the entire student body for evidence of COVID infections.


In the early months of the COVID-19 crisis, as Alfred University began planning the reopening of the campus for fall classes, a University task force was established to oversee a key element of the plan: regular clinical testing of the entire student body for evidence of COVID infections.

The University’s COVID Testing Team initiated the first wave of COVID testing in the first week of September, focusing on off-campus students, and since then has coordinated testing for virtually the entire student body. It currently is overseeing surveillance testing for approximately 200 students every week.

In normal times, the coordinator of the COVID Testing Team, Adrian Morling, serves as manager of administrative programming for the University’s Information Technologies Services office. These aren’t normal times, though: Morling has been redirecting his skills in data logistics to help the University through a viral crisis that has shut down campuses across the country.

“We had a task to complete,” he says. “People took on what they could. I just did what I could, and everything else just evolved.”

Morling speaks matter-of-factly of his work. To a large extent, the process of organizing students for regular clinical testing is a matter-of-fact job of organizing information. In this case, though, the amount of data is huge, frequently inconsistent, scattered across different data bases and digital formats. The data needs to be organized and attached (literally) to the actual test samples taken from students. When the University’s Wellness Center receives the test results from SUNY Upstate Medical Center, in Syracuse, the results need to be redistributed to students and the administrative offices responsible for taking the next steps in the University community health plan.

The work involves a certain amount of improvisational thinking. “I’m using Excel in ways most people have never considered,” Morling says.

It would be possible, he says, to manage the data in a more case-by-case fashion, but that would be time-consuming, and under current circumstances time is a luxury. Del Rey Honeycutt, director of the Wellness Center and another member of the COVID Testing Team, recalls having only two days to devise and implement the initial round of testing for off-campus students. An automated process for data collection and management has been crucial to getting the testing process up and running.

“Automation and maintenance of the data has been key in keeping track of 1,600-plus students,” Morling says. “One of my skills in IT is my ability to automate things.”

Morling joined Alfred University in 2000, after finishing four years in the U.S. Army, and receiving a degree in Computer Information Services from DeVry Institute of Technology. He worked in the corporate world, stepped back and decided to move to California, spent six weeks in Mexico on his way to the West Coast, learned to scuba dive, met his wife, Marcy, and moved to New York. He and Marcy settled in Canisteo, her hometown.

A native of England, a lover of Texas and California, Morling has immersed himself in western New York, where he and Marcy have raised four children, including their daughter Karina, currently is a student at Alfred University.

“I’ll always have my home in New York,” he says. “It’s a perfect blend of climate, and the landscape appeals to me. It’s a wonderful place to live.”

In addition to his work at Alfred University, he has served on the school board of the Canisteo-Greenwood Central School District. Along with scuba diving, he enjoys photography, maintains his own website, and provides occasional photographs of high school sports to the Hornell Evening Tribune.

His presence at Alfred University has helped make the challenge of COVID 19 manageable. Honeycutt cites his work and that of Public Safety Director Jessica Middaugh as critical to the ongoing success of the University’s testing program.

Morling says the testing program has depended on many more generous hands, including volunteers, like his daughter, Karina. “We’ve had staff members volunteering, other students, a nurse from Alfred State College,” he says. “They all deserve recognition too. This wouldn’t have happened without them.”