Learn how math underpins COVID-19 in online forum Cafe Mathematique

Featured illustration of the novel coronavirus

A free, public forum where anyone can learn how math underpins our understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic will take place, online, on Aug. 12.

Participants of Café Mathematique will hear from a panel of experts at universities across Canada as they answer the question, “What is a model of COVID-19?” The panel will be followed by a lively discussion where audience members are encouraged to ask questions and explore ideas about modelling the pandemic.

The event, hosted by The Fields Institute, will be moderated by York University faculty members Jude Dzevela Kong and Jane Heffernan.

Jane Heffernan
Jude Kong

Kong is an assistant professor of mathematics and statistics at York University and an expert in data science, machine learning, infectious disease modelling and population dynamics. He is a member of the Canadian Center for Disease Modelling and a member of the Canadian National COVID-19 Modelling Rapid Response Task Force. He is actively involved in several projects launched by these Task Forces to develop and utilize mathematical models to assist public health decision making in Canada.

Heffernan is a full professor of mathematics and statistics at York University where she lead the Modelling Infection and Immunity Lab as part of the Centre for Disease Modelling. Heffernan is an inaugural York Research Chair and is the director of the Mathematical Biology program at York. During COVID-19, she has been involved in Canadian provincial and national modelling teams. She also leads a pan-Canadian team modelling the in-host dynamics of COVID-19, and leads an international modelling effort on COVID-19 vaccine modelling.

The event’s panelists are:

Dr. David Buckeridge, MD and a professor in the School of Population and Global Health at McGill University in Montreal where he directs the Surveillance Lab, an interdisciplinary group that develops, implements, and evaluates novel computational methods for population health surveillance. He also directs the Research Data Warehouse at the McGill University Health Center, is a medical informatics consultant to the Quebec Institute for Excellence in Health and Social Services, and is an associate member with Mila. His research and practice focus on the informatics of health surveillance and disease control and he holds a Canada Research Chair in Health Informatics and Data Science. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Buckeridge provides regular projections of health system demand for the Canadian province of Quebec, is the scientific lead for Data Management and Analytics for the Canadian Immunity Task Force and sits on an expert panel advising the Canadian government about health systems. He is also currently a technical adviser to the World Health Organization Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources (EIOS) program on the application of artificial intelligence to global infectious disease surveillance. Dr. Buckeridge has an MD from Queen’s University, a MSc in epidemiology from the University of Toronto, and a PhD in biomedical informatics from Stanford University.

Caroline Colijn works at the interface of mathematics, evolution, infection and public health. She joined SFU’s Mathematics Department in 2018 as a Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Infection, Evolution and Public Health. She did her PhD in applied mathematics at the University of Waterloo, where she studied the foundations of quantum mechanics. She changed tack in her postdoctoral years, working on mathematical modelling at McGill and then on infectious disease modelling at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Broad Institute at MIT. She moved to  Bristol, England in 2007 and joined Imperial College London’s Department of Mathematics in 2011.

Dr. Javier Sanchez, a professor of epidemiology at the Atlantic Veterinary College. His expertise is in quantitative methods in epidemiology with an emphasis on disease transmission models and risk assessment applied to food safety, animal health and veterinary public health. Before joining the Atlantic Veterinary College in 2009, Dr. Sanchez worked for the Public Health Agency of Canada as an epidemiologist with the Policy Advice and Effectiveness Program of the Laboratory for Foodborne and then for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as a scientific advisor and risk assessor.

Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious disease epidemiologist, mathematical modeler, and assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Her research focuses on integrating data with mathematical models to study the epidemic spread of communicable diseases and identify optimal intervention and control strategies. She completed her PhD at the University of Toronto and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She previously worked as an epidemiologist and modeling lead at BlueDot, a public health startup that seeks to anticipate and contextualize infectious disease

The event will run from 12 to 1 p.m. and will include a panel discussion and Q-and-A. To register, visit the event page.