Abstract: One of the key challenges in modeling the dynamics of contagion phenomena is to understand how the structure of social interactions shapes the time course of a disease. Complex network theory has provided significant advances in this context. However, awareness of an epidemic in a population typically yields behavioral changes that correspond to changes in the network structure on which the disease evolves. This feedback mechanism has not been investigated in depth. For example, one would intuitively expect susceptible individuals to avoid other infecteds. However, doctors treating patients or parents tending sick children may also increase the amount of contact made with an infecteds, in an effort to speed up recovery but also exposing themselves to higher risks of infection. We study the role of these caretaker links in an adaptive network models where individuals react to a disease by increasing or decreasing the amount of contact they make with infected individuals. We find that pure avoidance, with only few caretaker links, is the best strategy for curtailing an SIS disease in networks that possess a large topological variability. In more homogeneous networks, disease prevalence is decreased for low concentrations of caretakers whereas a high prevalence emerges if caretaker concentration passes a well defined critical value.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).