Title:   Forecasting Spatial Incidence Patterns with Geostatistical Models
Speaker:  Alex Telionis
Time: 2:30PM
Abstract: Melioidosis is a highly lethal disease caused by the saprophytic bacterium B. pseudomallei. Humans contract this disease by exposure to wet soil, often the result of flooding or heavy rains. Accordingly, Melioidosis incidence is strongly associated with predictable climatological factors. Focusing on Australia, we trained a geostatistical model on existing incidence data and historic weather patterns. We then used this model to forecast geographically distributed incidence of Melioidosis in Australia for the coming rainy season. Due to the significant data limitations with a rare disease like Melioidosis, we are now considering moving to alternative disease: Lyme. The two pathogens have nearly nothing in common, save for the fact that the incidence of both diseases are greatly affected by climate. Lyme is primarily driven by forest fragmentation, summer rainfall, and winter temperatures lows, all of which we can account for with high precision. We expect that our existing methodology will allow us to forecast Lyme Disease with high precision. It is hoped that these methods will one day give health departments significant forewarning of impending climate driven epidemics. 
Title: Parsing the vaccination debate: A semantic network approach
Speaker: Gloria Kang
Time: 3:15PM
Abstract: Negative attitudes toward vaccination have persisted since vaccines were first introduced, yet vaccine refusal remains poorly understood. The objective of this study was to examine current vaccine sentiment on social media by constructing and analyzing semantic networks of vaccine information extracted from popular websites on Twitter. We analyzed resulting network topology, compared semantic differences, and identified the most salient concepts within networks expressing positive, negative, and neutral vaccine sentiment. By leveraging online data, semantic studies can enhance understanding of the scope and variability of current attitudes and beliefs toward vaccines. Our study synthesizes quantitative and qualitative evidence from an interdisciplinary approach to improve public health communication.

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Event Contact:
Srini Venkat