Abstract: Pathogens often follow more than one transmission route during outbreaks—from needle sharing plus sexual transmission of HIV to small droplet aerosol plus fomite transmission of influenza. Thus, controlling an infectious disease outbreak often requires characterizing the risk associated with multiple mechanisms of transmission. For example, during the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, weighing the relative importance of funeral versus health care worker transmission was essential to stopping disease spread. As a result, strategic policy decisions regarding interventions must rely on accurately characterizing risks associated with multiple transmission routes. The ongoing Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak challenges our conventional methodologies for translating case-counts into route-specific transmission risk. Critically, most approaches will fail to accurately estimate the risk of sustained sexual transmission of a pathogen that is primarily vectored by a mosquito—such as the risk of sustained sexual transmission of ZIKV. By computationally investigating a novel mathematical approach for multi-route pathogens, our results suggest that previous epidemic threshold estimates could under-estimate the risk of sustained sexual transmission by at least an order of magnitude. This result, coupled with emerging clinical, epidemiological, and experimental evidence for an increased risk of sexual transmission, would strongly support recent calls to classify ZIKV as a sexually transmitted infection.
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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).