Sara Del Valle Speaks on Epidemic Modeling

Sara Del Valle

SFI News:

Sara Del Valle Of Los Alamos National Laboratory will present a seminar on “Understanding the Impact of Human Behavior and Heterogeneous Mixing Patterns on Social Networks and Epidemics” at 12:15 p.m. Friday, June 27 in the Collins Conference Room at the Santa Fe Institute, 1399 Hyde Park Road in Santa Fe.

Social and mass media have recently played a crucial role in informing and influencing people’s perceptions about the spread of infectious diseases, Del Valle writes.

Community perception can influence human behavior, which can in turn impact the spread of an epidemic by changing the social contact network within the affected population. For example, people may stay home from work, schools may close, and travel restrictions may be implemented.

Epidemic modeling has typically relied on homogeneous mixing assumptions and ignored the impact of emergent community and individual behavior. These limitations are likely to overestimate the spread of infection and/or the impact of mitigation strategies, she says.

In this talk, Del Valle will describe a computational framework that generates social contact networks and captures geographically varying demographic characteristics and contact opportunities at home, work, school, and other activities.

These networks allow us to estimate heterogeneous mixing patterns and evaluate the impact of behavioral changes on the spread of airborne infections. Finally, Del Valle will argue that until we understand and incorporate these complex social dynamics in our models, we won’t be able to accurately predict the spread of epidemics.