Department: Biological Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Nicole Creanza, Ph.D.
Dissertation Description: Mathematical Exploration of Disease Dynamics
It has long been understood that, in conjunction with genetics, variations in human behavior such as diet, hand-washing, and vaccination result in differential susceptibility to a range of diseases. Vaccine hesitancy, an individual behavior influenced by historical, political, and socio-cultural factors, is believed to be responsible for decreasing vaccine coverage and thus increasing the risk of vaccine-preventable disease (VPD) outbreaks. Despite the knowledge of this culture-disease dynamic, models of cultural/behavioral evolution and models of disease dynamics have traditionally remained non-interactive.The focus of my research is to use mathematical models to explore and understand the interplay among cultural/behavioral evolution, medical/preventative practice adoption, and infectious disease dynamics.