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Global Pervasive Computation Epidemiology

Indiana University (IU) Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering Distinguished Professor Geoffrey Fox and Associate Professor of Intelligent Systems Engineering Judy Qiu are part of a collaboration of researchers who have been awarded an Expeditions in Computing award from the National Science Foundation.

The Global Pervasive Computational Epidemiology project is led by researchers from the University of Virginia and conducted in conjunction with IU, Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Arizona State University, Virginia Tech, University of Maryland, Yale University, Stanford University, and the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy.

With infectious diseases causing more than 13 million deaths per year worldwide, rapid growth in human population and its ability to adapt to a variety of environmental conditions has resulted in unprecedented levels of interaction between humans and other species.

This rise in interaction combined with emerging trends in globalization, anti-microbial resistance, urbanization, climate change, and ecological pressures increased the risk of a global pandemic, such as the current COVID-19 crisis.

The project’s multidisciplinary team is working together to capture the complexities underlying infectious diseases while revolutionizing real-time epidemiology. Fox and Qiu are providing high-performance computing and cyberinfrastructure support for high-performance parallel computations in both simulations and data analytics.

“I’m proud to be part of a team working at the Expeditions in Computing,” Qiu said. “The motivation to protect people’s health and lives will continue over the long-haul, well beyond coronavirus and well beyond the decade.”

The ultimate goal of the project is to develop and assess new, implementable strategies for controlling epidemic outbreaks, supporting real-time decisions and analysis during factual epidemics, and developing and deploying the Cyber-Environment for Real-Time Epidemic Science system for epidemiological responders and policy makers.

The NSF’s Expeditions in Computing program funds projects up to $15 million over seven years, representing the largest single research investments made by the NSF’s Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

“For more than 10 years, the Expeditions in Computing program has harnessed the vast amount of creativity in the computer science research community to expand our field's horizons, offer societal benefits and enhance our nation's economy,” said Margaret Martonosi, NSF Assistant Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

“The projects being awarded this year will undoubtedly do the same for decades to come, pushing the boundaries on challenging research problems with the potential to yield tremendous technological and societal advances.”

The team of researchers is actively working with multiple federal and state agencies to support response efforts for the current pandemic.

“The resources of IU and the Luddy School, coupled with the expertise of our world-class faculty, allow us to take on critical roles as we battle disease,” said Dennis Groth, interim dean of the Luddy School. “Geoffrey and Judy are global leaders in their field, and I’m pleased the Luddy School is providing support in this time of need.”

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