Real-time Contagion Science In The 21st Century | Lecture & Tutorial

Science Gallery Bengaluru


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Saturday, Jun 12, 2021
from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM (UTC)

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Science Gallery Bengaluru





Data & Technology


Virt India

Science Gallery Bengaluru is organising CONTAGION, an online exhibition that explores the transmission of emotions, behaviours and diseases.

Real-time Contagion Science In The 21st Century: The Role Of Data And Computing

Madhav Marathe

Professor of Computer Science

University of Virginia

Saturday, 12 June 2021

06:30 PM IST | 02:00 PM BST | 09:00 AM EDT | 03:00 PM CET

Infectious diseases cause more than 10 million deaths a year worldwide. Despite significant advances by scientists and public health authorities that have led to reduced rates of infections and mortality, we continue to find ourselves unable to respond rapidly and effectively to pandemics. The ongoing spread of COVID-19 serves as a grim reminder of our collective inability to control pandemics. Pandemics will recur again: the question is not if, but when. Globalization, anti-microbial resistance, anthropomorphic changes such as population growth, globally networked economies and urbanization, climate change, new technologies such as synthetic biology that might be used to design pathogens, and ecological pressures threaten to upend the progress we have made in fighting infectious diseases.

In this lecture, Professor Madhav Marathe will argue that pandemics are a complex systems problem and are intricately tied to the social, behavioral, medical, political and economic issues that go beyond human health and national boundaries. Since Bernoulli’s work in 1760 on smallpox inoculation, mathematical and computational models have played an important role in the study of epidemics. He will discuss how and if recent advances in computing, data and biological sciences can be harnessed to develop new techniques and engineering principles that can further advance the field and, in the end, help reduce the global burden of infectious diseases. He will also highlight the challenges one faces in developing tools during an evolving pandemic.

Pandemics are just one kind of contagion in a long list of contagions, including power blackouts, global financial contagions, contagions caused by computer malware, collective behavior by bacterial colonies using quorum sensing, and the information and mis(dis)-information campaigns on the social media. Marathe will discuss how unifying mathematical principles and engineering principles can be developed to understand and respond to such networked contagion-like phenomena. He will conclude the lecture by discussing how societies can cope with these global contagions by balancing the short term objectives such as economic growth and social well-being with long term objectives of resilience and sustainability.

About the Expert

Madhav Marathe is a Distinguished Professor in Biocomplexity, the division director of the Network Systems Science and Advanced Computing Division at the Biocomplexity Institute and Initiative, and a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Virginia (UVA).

He is a passionate advocate and practitioner of transdisciplinary team science. During his 25-year professional career, he has established and led a number of large transdisciplinary projects and groups. His research interests are in network and data science, computational epidemiology, AI, foundations of computing and high performance computing. Throughout his career, he has been studying contagion like phenomenon that occur in social and engineered systems. This includes, (non)-infectious diseases, computer viruses, and cascades in social and infrastructure systems. For instance, the division he leads has supported federal and state authorities in their effort to combat epidemics in real-time, including the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic.


As a part of our public programming, we will invite experts and early-career researchers from various disciplines such as epidemiology, infectious diseases research, and history, among others. They will talk about cutting-edge research, historical responses to contagion, and pressing issues in today’s world, to give the audience insights into how contagion is studied, mapped, and understood in a host of ways. The lectures will be followed by tutorials for a small group of young adults, who will have the chance to interact closely with the expert on their field of expertise.

Know more about CONTAGION here.

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Science Gallery Bengaluru