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Steering Committee Nominees

MIDAS Steering Committee

MIDAS is governed by a 12-member steering committee consisting of MIDAS members and external collaborators. The steering committee represents the broader MIDAS community and aims to support the network in fulfilling its mission and vision. Each year, the steering committee reviews the the MIDAS Coordination Center (MCC) annual report of conducted and planned activities, including past and planned expenditures. During the annual MIDAS meeting, the steering committee will provide feedback on the report to the MCC and NIH. The MCC will include the steering committee feedback in their annual progress report to NIH. Steering committee members are invited from the MIDAS community by the MCC in such a way that any MIDAS member has an equal opportunity to volunteer. Steering committee members nominate and elect a chair and each member serves a two-year term. Steering committee members rotate off and on in a staggered timeline, to ensure that the committee always includes new and experienced members. The steering committee represents MIDAS in conversations with partner and funding agencies, can start a process to modify the mission and vision of the network, and oversees activities of the MCC. The steering committee meets twice per year, once by video conference, and during the annual MIDAS meeting.

Student Nominees

PhD student
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
My name is Caroline Mburu. I am a PhD student at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Kilifi, Kenya and registered with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. My research interests are in infectious disease modelling and working with policy makers and stakeholders in health governance to translate the scientific findings to policy, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. My PhD thesis focuses on the calibration of statistical and mathematical models to serological data to estimate antibody response to vaccination, assess the impact of vaccination programmes, and predict the need for supplementary immunisation activities in Kenya. As a student on the steering committee, I will add value and contribute to MIDAS strategic initiatives on inclusive student engagement globally. The opportunity will also enhance my leadership skills and enable me to build a professional network of individuals using science to improve global pandemic preparedness.
PhD Candidate
University of Cambridge
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
I am a PhD student at the University of Cambridge in the Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease (and the Wellcome Sanger Institute). My work focuses on therapeutic alternatives for multi drug resistant infections. I previously worked at NIH (twice) and OpenBiome (in Cambridge, US). In addition to PhD work, I am also a visiting lecturer and research affiliate at MIT. My participation in MIDAS has enriched my research via summer institute courses, networking, and various seminars. I hope as a part of the steering committee that I could work to expand access to MIDAS and these opportunities. Thank you for considering my nomination.  
Teaching Assistant
University of Ngaoundere
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
I am a computational scientist, passionate about research and computing. I heard about the MIDAS Network from Pr Jame Mac Hyman (University of Tulane), while I was looking for an expert to supervise the work I am conducting to develop a new disease’s spread mapping system using spatial statistics. I do know how to model a phenomenon that is evolving in a domain, when I started working on the spread of COVID-19, I had to admit that a lot of pretty and elegant solutions exist already to address that kind of issue. Nevertheless, I also know that science always entails new ideas and paradigms in order to evolve and improve the life of the human beings, which I am full of. Besides the technical and analytical skills that I am bearing to give the best I can, I also put on the table my communication skills to ensure any voter about the following : As the Student Representative of the MIDAS Steering Committee, I vow and make the promise to work with devotion, not only taking anyone opinions into account, but even musing over them to make sure that in any advancement made, will figure the effort of any member. My name is Eric B. Kabe, and I am humbly asking with this message, for your vote.
PhD Candidate
University of Virginia
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Computer Science and the Biocomplexity Institute at the University of Virginia. Earlier, I received a Master of Science (MS) in Computer Science from the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad. My research interests lie in solving fundamental problems (eg. resource allocation under constraints) -- using theoretical tools, particularly from combinatorial optimization, approximation/randomized algorithms, and network science -- that arise in epidemiology, public health and bioinformatics.  
Graduate Student
Harvard University
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
Tigist F. Menkir is a second year PhD student in infectious disease epidemiology at the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her interests lie in the use of integrated approaches to improve infectious disease surveillance efforts in underinvested, largely neglected, and marginalized communities. To this end, she works to bridge tools in transmission modeling, machine learning, spatial statistics, and health economics. She is very driven by equity-based research aimed at illuminating disparities in infectious disease dynamics and the differential impacts of public health interventions across social factors like socio-economic status and race/ethnicity. More broadly, she is interested in centering modeling research on social heterogeneities and expanding the participation of historically excluded groups in this research.
Post Doctoral Data Scientist
Technological University Dublin
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
Elizabeth Hunter is a postdoctoral data scientist working at Technological University Dublin in Ireland. She completed her PhD in June 2020. The focus of her work was on creating agent based models for the spread of infectious diseases in Ireland.  She is currently working on two main projects. One is Precise4Q a European funded project that aims to use machine learning to reduce the burden of stroke.  She also leads the agent-based modelling work for the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG) who advise the Irish government on COVID-19.  As part of the work on IEMAG she has seen first-hand how infectious disease modelling can be used to impact public policy and the challenges of conveying not only the output of the models but the assumptions and theory that underpin a model to non-modellers in the government and to the public. She would be honoured to be on the Midas steering committee and do her best to help follow Midas’ mission to improve global preparedness and response to infectious disease threats through research, training, promotion and service. 
Post Doctoral Research Fellow
Harvard University
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
I am an emerging scientist from The Gambia, a tiny country on the West coast of Africa. Early on in my career, I benefitted from a number of academic scholarships to study at world-leading UK institutions. My travels exposed me to diverse cultures, which compelled me to approach issues from divergent viewpoints. Since joining the Harvard School of Public Health in 2019, I have maximized opportunities in mentoring, team building and service. The Harvard Catalyst mentoring programming gave me a holistic understanding of career progression in academia and an appreciation serving complementary roles, such as the MIDAS steering committee. As a postdoc representative I will integrate the diversity of perspectives that is necessary for progress. I helped to organize the MIDAS Diversity in Modelling conference in 2020 and it would be an honor to serve as the postdoc representative on the steering committee.
PostDoc
Penn State University
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
Rebecca Borchering is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biology and the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Penn State University. She earned a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Florida in May 2017, focusing on stochastic processes of invasion and extinction, with particular applications for seasonal rabies virus dynamics. She previously held postdoctoral positions at the Emerging Pathogens Institute and Department of Biology at the University of Florida and at the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. Her research interests center around infectious disease modeling and public health applications. She is interested in the dynamics of co-circulating pathogens and her previous work includes investigating the effects of the 2015/2016 Zika epidemic in Latin America on endemic dengue dynamics and the emergence of novel influenza B viruses in the United States. Currently, she helps lead multiple modeling efforts to inform decision support in the face of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. She works on both the Multiple Models for Outbreak Decision Support and COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub projects.

Faculty Nominees

Eck Family Associate Professor
University of Notre Dame
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
I have been active in infectious disease modeling research for the past ten years and oversee a large research group of diverse scientists ranging from undergraduates to research faculty, all of whom are active in infectious disease modeling and participate regularly in MIDAS events. My work on infectious disease modeling has been varied, ranging from mosquito-borne diseases to COVID-19 to emerging zoonoses, and has been done both in the context of long-term disease threats and public health emergencies. My research has been funded by a wide variety of sources, and I have engaged with decision makers in multiple contexts, including WHO and CDC. My research employs methods ranging from agent-based modeling to differential equations to statistical inference. I have provided primary mentorship to 27 trainees at a variety of levels and have taught infectious disease modeling at the graduate and undergraduate levels. I am enthusiastic about professional networking, having started my career in infectious disease modeling through the former RAPIDD Program. I am enthusiastic about the role that MIDAS serves and would be delighted to have the opportunity to serve on the steering committee with the purpose of helping MIDAS to advance its mission during this important time for our field.
Senior Epidemiologist
RTI International
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
I am an epidemiologist who spent many years in the field collecting data and using them to build statistical and mathematical modeling. My projects have always based on using modeling methods to provide solid insights to tackle infectious diseases by sharing them with public health institutions around the World. I have applied modeling approach to study the transmission dynamics of several diseases such as malaria, dengue, Lyme disease, STH, and West Nile disease, and COVID-19 in almost all continents. I believe that having a member with a field-modeling mixed background like mine in the MIDAS Steering Committee will benefit the network.
Assistant Professor
Washington State University
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
I was a postdoc at NDSSL and have been a member of the MIDAS Network, in one way or another, for most of my professional career. I believe I would be a good fit for the steering committee by bringing the perspective of junior faculty, faculty in a veterinary school - and representing the mentorship of students in slightly more unusual settings than many modeling groups, and as someone who works on healthcare associated infections.
Assistant Professor
Virginia Tech
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
I am an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Virginia Tech with affiliations in the Fralin Life Sciences Institute and the Faculty of Health Sciences. My research focuses on developing, analyzing, and applying mathematical and computational models to better understand key problems in epidemiology, immunology, and ecology. In particular, I have interests in infectious disease dynamics of vector-borne pathogens such as malaria and dengue. As part of the MIDAS Steering Committee, I would work to advance research and training while promoting inclusivity, diversity and effective interdisciplinary science.
Assistant Professor
University of Maryland
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
Dr. Fitzpatrick is an infectious disease transmission modeler with the Center for Vaccine Development ant Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Her research primarily focuses on the health economics of interventions, specifically vaccination. In her work with stakeholders from a variety of sectors and in her faculty role at an interdisciplinary research center, Dr. Fitzpatrick has gained substantial experience communicating the value and importance of modeling for public health practice and decision-making. She would bring this experience to the MIDAS Steering Committee in support of its mission to connect modelers with those who can both inform and benefit from their work. Having been supported by MIDAS funding during her doctoral training at Yale, Dr. Fitzpatrick is also deeply committed to facilitating financial support for current and future generations of modeling trainees.
Associate Professor of Epidemiology
University of Pennsylvania
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
We often imagine, when we talk or teach about models informing policy, presenting some results in a conference room to some imagined policy maker. But there are other levers of power and policy—in the U.S. the courts, insurance adjusters, company boards—through which we can work to achieve evidence-based change, and, importantly, defend it.  In Peru, where I have worked for 20 years, policy decisions often occur on a more local scale, and incorporating model-backed approaches requires understanding barriers to their implementation.   I am very excited about MIDAS in Latin America group—it has a lot of potential and momentum, as do similar global efforts, and I would focus on supporting these if chosen for the steering committee. Modeling has a legitimacy problem. We need to address it, and MIDAS is in a position to do so. In the end I go back to this quote from Ronald Ross, circa 1910: “[Models] are useful, not so much for the numerical estimates yielded by them, but because they give more precision to our ideas, and a guide for future investigations.” That’s the crux of why I spend time with all this math, and it is my hope that MIDAS can help promote models to guide to the critical investigations needed to understand and control the current epidemics, and those to come.
Assistant Professor
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
Pamela Martinez is an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Statistics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Prior to that, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard HSPH, and earned her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Chicago.  Her research focuses on understanding how demographic, climatic, and genetic factors shape the population dynamics of human infectious diseases. During the current pandemic, she has been studying the role of socioeconomic determinants on SARS-CoV-2 transmission and vaccination rates.
Professor
University of Georgia
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
I am a professor of Ecology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia.  For the past 25 years, I have been working on the population biology of infectious diseases using mathematical and computational modeling approaches.  I have worked on a diverse array of disease systems, including pertussis, measles, human and avian influenza, SARS_CoV-2 and polymicrobial interactions.  For the past 7 years, I have been a member of the MIDAS network and was chair of the steering committee from 2017-2018.  Currently, I am Deputy Director of the Center for Influenza Disease & Emergence Research, part of the NIH’s Centers of Excellence in Influenza Research and Response, thus I can facilitate potentially useful linkage between these two networks.
Research Scientist
University of Virginia
NOMINEE STATEMENT:
The nominee has 5+ years of post-PhD experience in developing and analyzing models of disease dynamics. Trained as an electrical engineer, he has expertise in mathematical and computational tools which he has used for understanding contagion processes at various spatial, social and temporal scales. As part of an interdisciplinary team, he has participated in and encouraged healthy exchange of ideas among traditional research areas. He has contributed to several multi-model consortiums involving academic groups focused on infectious disease forecasting and intervention design. He also has experience working with industry partners for data sharing and translational efforts. Finally, through 2020-21, his work has continued to support partners at the Dept. of Defense and the Commonwealth of Virginia during the COVID-19 response. Overall, he strongly believes in the immense value of a diverse, thriving community like the MIDAS network, and would like to contribute in a small way in helping further its mission.