BLACKSBURG, Va., April 21, 2014—Virginia Bioinformatics Institute researchers will again attend the USA Science and Engineering Festival on April 25-27, spreading a virtual zombie plague via the nationally-famous Virus Tracker simulation.

Developed by the institute’s Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory, Virus Tracker and the Virus Tracker App spreads a virtual virus via scannable labels and Droid and Apple apps. The app also allows players to "vaccinate" themselves and others to become immune or maintain immunity to the zombie virus. Players earn points through inoculating others, spreading the immunity or virus. These educational and research tools enable researchers to demonstrate how infection spreads through a population, how vaccines help curb the infection, and how simulation science helps inform policy-makers about dealing with disease epidemics and other potential national threats. The simulation garnered national media attention when it was used to “infect” 50,000 Boy Scouts at last year’s Boy Scout Jamboree. 

”We are excited about participating in the festival which promises to be the biggest yet. Virus Tracker, Virus Tracker App and FluCaster are diverse education and research tools that have been utilized in various public science celebrations and were developed by a team of scientists, computer programmers, public health specialists, and education specialists,” said Kristy Collins, K-12 STEM education specialist and program manager. 

The USA Science and Engineering Festival is designed to inspire interest in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects among youth. Held at Walter E. Washington Convention center in Washington, D.C., the festival brings together a host of science celebrities and educators and provides fun, hands-on learning activities throughout the weekend.

Visit the institute’s booth and join in the virtual fun at Booth #5834. Virus Tracker t-shirts will be given away every two hours to whoever is at the top of the leaderboard throughout the festival.

The booth was funded by Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, Fralin Life Science Institute, and DTRA contract # HDTRA1-11-1-0016 (PI- Madhav Marathe).

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Contact:

Tiffany Trent
(540) 230-6505
ttrent@vbi.vt.edu

April 22, 2014