York math and statistics professor wins 2010 Award of Merit

What do math and the flu epidemic have in common? Just ask York Department of Mathematics & Statistics Professor Jianhong Wu, who studies disease progression and infection using math.

Wu is leading two prominent Canadian teams on modelling and geo-stimulation of disease spread, and coordinates a number of academic-industrial collaborations in data mining, neuronal networks and pattern recognition. He is also the Canadian leader of a Canada-China collaboration in disease management and modelling, funded by the International Development Research Centre and Canada Research Chair program.

Right: Jianhong Wu accepts his Award of Merit

Recently, Wu was awarded the Federation of Chinese Canadian Professionals (Ontario) Education Foundation’s 2010 Award of Merit for his expertise in the field of mathematical biology and epidemiology, during a ceremony and reception in Toronto. In the federation’s citation it was noted that Wu is recognized in Canada and internationally for his interdisciplinary research in modelling disease transmission.

“I feel deeply honored and humbled by the award,” says Wu. “I am very pleased that York’s support for interdisciplinary research and outreach is also recognized by the federation that has been promoting interdisciplinary studies among the various professions.”

What makes Wu distinct in his field is his ability to make novel contributions and integrate industrial application and applied mathematics to his research repertoire, and significantly contribute to both pure and applied mathematics.

Left: Jianhong Wu

He is most known for his contributions to the field of disease modelling, where his work has made a permanent and positive impact on human health. During the 2003 SARS outbreak, he established and led a national team of more than 20 scientists from governmental agencies and medical and mathematical sciences to model the transmission dynamics and spread of infectious disease (see YFile, Dec. 9, 2003). The research conducted by Wu and his team led to the development of prediction and intervention strategies, which impacts directly on preparedness measures for an influenza pandemic.

His work has influenced various public health policies and has become the benchmark for researchers in the pandemic area and beyond.

Among his accomplishments, Wu is founding director of the Laboratory for Industrial & Applied Mathematics and the Centre for Disease Modelling, and has co-authored 17 books and more than 280 articles in both pure mathematics and mathematical applications. He is the recipient of various honours, including the Humboldt Research Fellowship (Germany), Paul Erdos Visiting Professorship (Hungry), Cheung Kong Visiting Professorship (China) and New Pioneer Science & Technology Award (Skills for Change).