BLACKSBURG, Va. , Nov. 11, 2011 – Researchers led by Stephen Eubank, Ph.D., at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) will engage visitors in simulating the spread of a contagious outbreak of Hokie Fever during the university Open House event on Saturday, November 12, 2011 from 10am to 3pm.  Virginia Tech's famous head coach Frank Beamer will act as the source point for Hokie Fever.

Open House attendees can join the “fandemic” by picking up a bracelet with a unique bar code at any designated location across campus and being scanned into the system.  They will be encouraged to spread Hokie Fever throughout the event and to scan in wherever they encounter a scanning station. If attendees have an smartphone with a QR code reader app, they can also use the smartphone to scan themselves in as they move around campus after they've picked up a wristband.  Everyone who scans into the system will be entered in a door prize drawing to be given out at the end of the day at VBI.

The data will then be fed back to VBI’s new Situation Awareness Room, where it will demonstrate the developing network of infected Hokies across campus. When participants visit VBI, they can then view whether they’ve caught the disease, how the “fandemic” has spread, the home locations of the carriers, and how many degrees of separation they are from Frank Beamer at the source. The simulation will also be available in real-time on the fandemic website (

The Hokie Fever simulation game was designed by Stephen Eubank, Ph.D., and his team at the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory (NDSSL).  It was first put into practice studying the possible outcomes of an H1N1 influenza epidemic and was also used at the USA Science and Engineering Festival 2010 to teach students about epidemic spreads and how the resulting data can influence policy and governmental decisions in such crises.  It will be present at next year's festival again to help people understand the science behind many Hollywood features, like the movie Contagion.  See the press release for more information.

For more information about the University Open House on November 12, please visit: .

For more information about NDSSL, please visit: .

See the VT News release.

About the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute
The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech is a premier bioinformatics, computational biology, and systems biology research facility that uses transdisciplinary approaches to science, combining information technology, biology, and medicine. These approaches are used to interpret and apply vast amounts of biological data generated from basic research to some of today’s key challenges in the biomedical, environmental, and agricultural sciences. With more than 240 highly trained multidisciplinary, international personnel, research at the institute involves collaboration in diverse disciplines such as mathematics, computer science, biology, plant pathology, biochemistry, systems biology, statistics, economics, synthetic biology, and medicine. The large amounts of data generated by this approach are analyzed and interpreted to create new knowledge that is disseminated to the world’s scientific, governmental, and wider communities.


Tiffany Trent

Published by Tiffany Trent, November 11, 2011