SARS at Williams – let’s hope not.

BlogPostImageby Prof. Lauren Childs

Imagine a SARS outbreak in quaint Williamstown – that’s exactly what Varun Bhadkamkar ’17, Anthony Brooks ’16, Jack Ferguson ’17, Connor Mulhall ’17, and Annie Sher ’17 did in their Math 307 final project. The SARS group built a network model of the Williams College undergraduate population, grouping individuals by dorms and dining halls, assuming that’s where the majority of transmission would take place. Using their model, they determined that one infected individual could lead to an all-out epidemic infecting nearly 97% of the undergraduate population if no intervention policies were implemented. Knowing that the Williams administration would never let the entire campus get infected, they went to look at various interventions and determined that those that reduce contact with infected individuals, such as wearing face masks, would be able to quell the epidemic. In total in Math 307 there were nine groups investigating nine separate diseases with a wide range of questions such as: can the anti-vaccination movement lead to re-emergence of measles in the US? How would response to government intervention affect the Ebola epidemic in West Africa? Is vaccination or treatment the best way to help lions infected with canine disease temper virus? Which part of the immune response will have the most impact on levels of mono? How should the government prioritize treatment in countries with high levels of TB? What drives the different dynamics of two similar STDs – syphilis and gonorrhea? And can new vaccines for malaria and dengue really lead to elimination? If you’re interested in learning more, contact Prof Childs at [email protected].