The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has placed mathematical models in the spotlight as they have become central to public health interventions, planning, resource allocation and forecasts. OSU mathematics alumni have made important contributions to COVID-19 modeling and research at both national and regional levels.
Mathematics alumna Carrie Manore (Ph.D. ’11) is at Los Alamos National Laboratory working as part of the COVID-19 modeling team. Manore is a mathematical epidemiologist in the Information Systems and Modeling Group at LANL since 2013. Her work focuses on modeling mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, chikungunya, dengue and West Nile virus. The LANL COVID-19 forecasts are part of the modeling New Mexico Department of Health officials have been using since April to prepare for and tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I got a really strong background in math at OSU, which not only helped me acquire mathematical skills, but also a way of thinking. It prepared me to work on real problems in the world like I am doing now.” — Carrie Manore
For more than a decade, LANL scientists have modeled infectious disease outbreaks, such as smallpox, HIV, Ebola and influenza, across the world and have developed mathematical and computational models to track and forecast their spread. The LANL COVID-19 model is among the forecasts the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has used throughout the pandemic to create health guidelines.
A compilation of LANL and other New Mexico-based models of SARS-CoV-2 virus’s transmission patterns have proven to be successful in helping New Mexico contain the spread of COVID-19. In an article in September, Scientific American reported that “New Mexico’s models and its system for collecting and tracking data allow its policy makers to make forward-looking, evidence-based decisions.” The COVID-19 numbers in New Mexico are far lower than that of its neighbors Texas and Arizona. The scientific expertise and contagion forecasts of LANL epidemiologists like Manore have played an important role in shaping the state’s fight against the coronavirus. Due to her work on the LANL COVID-19 model, Manore has received mention in New Mexico media, as well as the New York Times.
The Los Alamos model is a part of the CDC’s ensemble forecasts to understand the impact of the virus. An ensemble forecast combines models from multiple teams and organizations into one aggregate forecast to get a reliable estimate of total COVID-19 infections and deaths over the next four weeks.