Practical Mathematics for Pandemics

Time: Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Type: Seminar Series
Presenter: Anette (Peko) Hosoi, MIT

Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Seminar Series

Seminars are held weekly on Wednesday at 2:30 PM. Please contact Diana Qiu, Amir Pahlavan, or Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio with speaker suggestions.

October 13, 2021

"Practical Mathematics for Pandemics"
Anette (Peko) Hosoi

Abstract: It has been an extraordinary 18 months. The urgent need to find solutions in the midst of a global pandemic has motivated many members of the scientific community to seek out new collaborations and tackle new problems. In this talk I will describe two such experiences from the past year.

The first begins with a collaboration in the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society at MIT in which we derive a framework to estimate the amount of random viral testing, follow-up contact tracing, and subsequent isolation of infectious individuals required to prevent outbreaks in different communities. This analysis led to a partnership with NIH's RADx (Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics) initiative and the development of, a website that is now being used to inform policy in multiple states and organizations.

The second story explores the impact of opening NFL stadiums to fans during the pandemic. During the 2020-2021 season, each NFL team put forward their own plans and negotiated with the league, the relevant state, and their local community to determine whether they would be able to open the stadium to fans. Borrowing techniques from economics, we apply synthetic control methods to analyze covid case counts to determine whether opening stadiums has a detrimental, beneficial or neutral effect on the surrounding community.

Abstract: Anette (Peko) Hosoi is a Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. She received her PhD in Physics from the University of Chicago and went on to become an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in the MIT Department of Mathematics and at the Courant Institute, NYU. She is a leader in the study of the hydrodynamics of thin fluid films and in the nonlinear physical interaction of viscous fluids and deformable interfaces. Her work spans multiple disciplines including physics, biology and applied mathematics, and is being used, in collaboration with Schlumberger-Doll Research, Bluefin Robotics, and Boston Dynamics to guide the engineering design of robotic crawlers and other mechanisms.

Prof. Hosoi is an exceptional, innovative teacher and an inspiring mentor for women in engineering. She was awarded the Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching, and a MacVicar Fellowship. She is a recipient of the 3M Innovation Award and has held the Doherty Chair in Ocean Utilization at MIT. She is a Radcliffe Institute Fellow and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Her research interests include fluid mechanics, bioinspired design and locomotion, with a focus on optimization of crawling gastropods, digging bivalves, swimming microorganisms and soft robotics. Prof. Hosoi is also an avid mountain biker and her passion for sports has led her to create MIT Sports Lab, a program that is designed to build an interconnected community of faculty, students, industry partners, alums and athletes who are dedicated to applying their technical expertise to advance the state-of-the-art in sports.