NIH Award

Drs. Bocchini and Buceta are awarded a grant from NIH
to study the application of Functional Quantization
and bat migration dynamics to assess the
risk of Ebola outbreaks over large regions.

[April 2018]

In 2014 a group of faculty at Lehigh formed what eventually became the "Probabilistic Modeling Group", to explore scholarly and educational collaborations among colleagues interested in the applications of probability theory to various disciplines. In one of those meetings, Drs. Bocchini and Buceta realized that the techniques that Bocchini's group was developing to optimally describe the seismic hazard over a large region, could be applied to model the uncertain distribution of environmental parameters that drive the migration of bats and, in turn, the non-homogenous spreading of Ebola, one of the big challenges that Buceta was addressing. A fruitful collaboration was born. As the "Probabilistic Modeling Group" was growing, Drs. Bocchini and Buceta became its coordinators and the pioneers of the type of collaborations that the group could facilitate. Drs. Bocchini and Buceta successfully applied for an internal grant, which allowed them to hire a postdoc (Dr. Graziano Fiorillo) and start generating collaborative results. These, in turn, became the base for joint conference and journal papers, which provided credibility for extramural grant applications, involving also other colleagues at Lehigh and at other institutions. This NIH award is the culmination of years of work and, at the same time, a seed that will fuel research for many years in the future.

The awarded project is entitled "Risk assessment of Ebola outbreaks through probabilistic modeling of Chiroptera zoonotic dynamics and socioeconomic factors" and it is funded through the R15 mechanism by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at NIH. The grant is for $441,605 over 3 years, renewable for 3 more years.

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