York University mathematics Professor and Research Chair Jane Heffernan was presented with the Early Career Research Award by the Canadian Applied & Industrial Mathematics Society and the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences in Waterloo, Ont.
The award recognizes Heffernan’s contributions to applied mathematics, specifically in the field of disease modelling. She was cited for the “novelty, depth and breadth of her work at the interface of immunology and epidemiology” and for the “rare ability to connect mathematics clearly to applicable treatment strategies and public policy.”
Heffernan uses techniques that combine computational and analytical methods from deterministic and random variable approaches to analyze the dynamics of infectious diseases. She also studies the impacts of human interventions on disease outbreaks. This plays a vital role in designing pandemic mitigation strategies.
“I use mathematical models to describe infectious disease spread in a population,” said Heffernan. “My mathematical models are ‘experiments’ that are used to understand disease persistence and the development of immunity. These can be used to shed light on many characteristics of infectious diseases that are observable but difficult to understand in biological contexts.”
Heffernan is the lead researcher in the Modelling Infection & Immunity Lab, a member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Mathematical Biology and the director of the Centre for Disease Modelling. She is also involved in research initiatives with China, Brazil and Africa.