Modeling the spread of infectious disease? There’s an app for that.
University of Maine mathematics professor David Hiebeler, in conjunction with computer science and mathematics major Peter Bilodeau of Greenville, Maine, has developed an iPhone and iPad app intended to help with the outreach Hiebeler does in Maine schools.
Using computational and mathematical models, Hiebeler’s research describes how certain populations behave over time and under a variety of simulated environmental conditions. To introduce undergraduates and graduate students to his research, he created the Spatial Population Ecological and Epidemiological Dynamics (SPEED) Lab on campus. His K–12 outreach is an extension of this work.
“We work with computer simulations, and this will help students, especially older students, explore these models further,” Hiebeler says. “These devices are on the verge of becoming serious tools for teaching as well as research.”
The app includes three simulations, two of which model the spread of infectious diseases, and one population model. Users can control the parameters — for example, changing vaccination levels in a model community to see how that might affect the spread of a disease. Hiebeler and Bilodeau plan to add more simulation models to the app, as well as develop a similar app for android devices. Future models will demonstrate things such as strategies for controlling invasive species.
The app is available for free download in Apple’s App Store by searching for “Hiebeler.”
Originally published in UMaine Today magazine, Fall 2011
Image Description: iPad app