The David Poole Lecture In Mathematics

Established in 2021 by Trent University Professor Emeritus David Poole, former chair of Trent’s Mathematics Department and a former Associate Dean of Arts and Science, this annual lecture series will feature talks about mathematics and/or mathematics education. The intended audience is the Trent community, local teachers and students, and the general public. 

COVID-19: What's Mathematics Got to Do with It?

Dr. Jane Heffernan ’96 

Professor at York University and co-director of the Canadian Centre for Disease Modelling

jane heffernan

COVID-19 has brought mathematical modelling into public forums and into everyday conversation for some. In this talk, the speaker will provide a review of the mathematics behind COVID-19 models that have been used to inform local, provincial, and federal government agencies and decision-makers. The utility of models in tracking and estimating important epidemiological outcomes such as the number of infections, hospitalizations, or deaths, the distribution of immunity in a population, and the current ‘R number’ will be discussed.

Date: Thursday, October 13 , 2022 
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Venue - Bata Library Film Theatre, room 103

Watch the recording of the lecture!

About Dr. Jane Heffernan ’96 

Hailed as one of Canada’s leading applied mathematicians, and as a widely respected researcher on the spread and persistence of infectious diseases, Dr. Jane Heffernan has been a professor at York University’s Faculty of Science since 2007, where she is also a co-Director of the Centre for Disease Modelling and a Tier II Research Chair. Jane’s work has addressed public health and disease issues, her focus of late dedicated almost exclusively to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her research has been published in several prestigious journals and her papers have been extensively cited.

A number of awards and honours have been bestowed upon Jane, including the Governor General’s Gold Medal, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI) Early Researcher Award, and a faculty award from Canada's Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, from which she also received a postdoctoral fellowship. In 2021, Jane was elected to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. She was also recently named a Game Changer in Health Research and Health Innovation by Research Canada.

Jane’s Modelling Infection and Immunity Lab at York University is focused on the development of new biologically motivated immuno-epidemiology models of infectious diseases that integrate pathogen in-host dynamics (i.e., your immune system interactions with a virus or bacteria) with the population of hosts. These multi-scale quantitative models for evidence-based health policy have been, and remain, vital for decision-making processes at government and individual levels.

Meanwhile, her COVID-19 modelling work has covered a wide range of topics such as immune response to vaccines, the impact of mutant strains in triggering further epidemic waves, COVID-19 transmission in long-term care facilities, and the importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Jane is involved in international immunization and public health networks, and she has served as a board director with both the international Society for Mathematical Biology and Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society. She is currently President-Elect for the Society for Mathematical Biology, where she was also recently appointed as a Fellow. With more than 100 peer-reviewed articles to her credit, Jane’s collaboration in 2005’s Perspectives On The Basic Reproductive Ratio has received more than 1,000 citations on its way to being one of the most important references on basic reproduction numbers in infectious disease modelling.

Jane has consistently shown genuine care and support for researchers in their early careers. As a female professor, she is also proactive in promoting equity, diversity and inclusion, encouraging female students to pursue careers and fulfill their personal goals. She remains active in supervising students at all levels, including undergrad students, graduate students and postdoc fellows. Many of her students have successfully established careers in academia and industry.

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