Liam Hodgkinson has completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in mathematics at the University of Queensland and is currently preparing for an Honours project in mathematical modelling of metapopulations with applications to epidemiology. He began his undergraduate degree with an Australian Student Prize and a UQ Excellence Scholarship in 2012. Since then, he has been awarded the James Cecil Stevenson Memorial Prize in 2013 and has earned five Dean’s commendations. His interests include probability theory and stochastic processes, numerical analysis, and simulation. His more recent interests are in the analysis and simulation of stochastic models with broad applications.
Understanding the Effect of Individual Variation in Epidemics
Australia devotes considerable resources to programs designed to protect its biodiversity and to limit the spread of diseases and pests. However, these programs can only be effective if the dynamics of the populations in question are well understood. This customarily involves the construction and analysis of mathematical models under the assumption that individuals in the population are interchangeable. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that individual variation, such as differences in life history, genetics and environmental conditions, have potential ecosystem-level consequences. In particular, it has been shown that variation of infectiousness at the individual level can give rise to ‘super-spreading events’, such as occurred in the 2003 SARS outbreaks in Singapore and Beijing, where a small number of individuals are responsible for a large number of secondary cases. The aim of this project is to build upon Hanski’s incidence function model to account for such variation, and then use simulation experiments and analytical approximation methods to improve our understanding of the role of individual variation in epidemics and develop more efficient strategies for controlling the spread of disease.