I am an applied mathematician by training and temperament, deeply curious about biological complexity, and endlessly fascinated by the intricacies of living systems. Infectious disease systems, in particular, which so strongly shape our lives and the lives of all organisms and which are so wonderfully complex and dynamic, command most of my attention. My professional career has been devoted to systematically developing quantitative and predictive understanding of infectious diseases through devising mathematical models of disease dynamics and challenging them to explain data. Paradoxically, my time is thus largely spent proposing models that I know to be hopelessly naive and expecting these to predict biological observations in detail. Even more paradoxical is the fact that this turns out to be an extremely effective way to learn. I am intrigued by why this is so and dedicated to making it more so through the development of computational tools. Accordingly, a large part of my research is aimed at developing methods for extracting information from noisy, incomplete observations of systems with many moving parts, most or all of which cannot be measured directly.
Primary Institution: University of Michigan
Role/Title: Nelson G. Hairston Professor of Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Complex Systems
Topics of Interest: Biology - Evolution - Health - Mathematics/Computer Science - Science of Science - Time - Inference - Epidemiology - Immunology - Infectious Disease
Other Affiliations and Institutions:
How SFI changes your mind:
When and how you first got involved with SFI: Through an SFI-hosted workshop (2014) I co-organized with Sam Scarpino and Pejman Rohani.
Favorite Film: Brazil (1985)