What Can We Learn from Modeling a Pandemic?

Individual-based modeling offers untapped opportunities for policymakers and researchers

With the emergence of the corona virus, modeling – the science of representing processes and systems for purpose of analysis—has been at the center of debate how to respond to this public health crisis. Experts and non-experts alike follow the latest modeling predictions, and federal and state public health policies are grounded, at least in …


The Hurricane Outlook

The journalists are sure about the 2018 hurricane season. The scientists? Not so much.

I’m actually in Puerto Rico today for a conference on the situation here after Hurricane Maria. Since hurricanes are on my mind, I wondered what the forecast for this year looks like. As it turns out, the headlines give significantly different takes on what to expect. Here is a sample of news stories, all issued …


Climate Change Lesson #3: Everything is Connected to Everything Else

This is the third in a series of short homilies about the lessons of climate change. Barry Commoner called this the first law of ecology.  Because “everything is connected to everything else,” he said: the system is stabilized by its dynamic self- compensating properties; these same properties, if overstressed, can lead to a dramatic collapse; …


Climate Change Lesson #2: Watch Out for Those “Unknown Unknowns”

This is the second in a short series of homilies on the lessons we can learn from climate change. Donald Rumsfeld famously distinguished between knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.   He didn’t take the occasion to provide sharp analytical distinctions, but the difference between known unknowns and unknown unknowns is very much like a difference …