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University of Hawaii

Electrical Engineering

How Interactions Spread Infections, Failures, and Behaviors

Date: 2016-04-28           Add to Google Calendar
Time: 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Location: Holmes Hall 389
Speaker: Dr. June Zhang, ORISE postdoctoral fellow, Division of Viral Hepatitis, CDC


Infections spread from infected to healthy, but susceptible individuals. Cascading failures like blackouts spread from failed to working components. These and similar processes are new frontiers in network science research: time-varying network processes. In network processes, the network structure --- the substrate on which individuals or components interact --- as well as the underlying dynamics determine susceptibility to infection or failures. We study this at three scales: 1) characterizing susceptibility of individuals, 2) characterizing susceptibility of communities, 3) characterizing susceptibility of the entire population. Using the scaled SIS (susceptible-infected-susceptible) network process that we introduced, we show that the heterogeneity of the network structure results in some individuals being more likely to be infected than others, but not necessarily the individuals with the most number of interactions (i.e., degree). We also show that "densely connected" communities are more vulnerable to infections and determine when network structures include these more vulnerable communities. Lastly, we discuss the inverse problem of estimating the network structure of contacts and dynamics parameters from genome sequences of infected individuals with Hepatitis C.


June Zhang received her B.S. with Highest Honor in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. She received a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2015. She was a recipient of the Georgia Hope Scholarship, NSF (National Science Foundation) Graduate Research Fellowship, and the Microsoft Azure Research Award from 2015-2016. She is currently an ORISE (Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education) postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Viral Hepatitis at CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). She has given talks at Instituto Superior Técnico, Santa Fe Institute, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and others. Her research interests are network science, statistical signal processing, data science, bioinformatics, human-computer interaction, and design methodology. In particular, she is interested in understanding how adaptations and interactions amongst individuals affect the behaviors of large-scale systems.