Building Models to Save Lives

A model conceived and developed by a three-member interdisciplinary team of UB students was among the 2015 winners in a prestigious international mathematical modeling contest. The Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP) demands skill, ingenuity, and endurance over an intense four-day period of competition.

Andrew Harris, an aerospace engineering major with a minor in English; Dante Iozzo, a mathematics and physics majo;, and Nigel Michki, a computational physics major, were asked to consider how a new, hypothetical medication could stop Ebola and cure patients whose disease had not reached an advanced stage. Teams were asked to build mathematical models that considered not only the spread of the disease, but also the quantity of medicine needed, feasible delivery systems, and the time required to manufacture and administer the drug.

“Our model helped us to analyze the spread of Ebola and the effect of medical resource implementation,” Iozzo says. “A highly adjustable computer simulation illustrated not only the interactions between cities and regions, but also the interactions among individuals.”