Thursday, September 29, 2011

Columbia Workshop, Katia Koelle would've been a good participant

I've been wracking my brain for other non-obvious applications of the Euler characteristic to biological data and I was reminded of some work[1] done by Katia Koelle.  My understanding of the work is that she sought to characterize whether a virus evolved in the face of herd immunity by accumulating a wide diversity of anitgenic variants or whether it would tend to avoid herd immunity via replacement of older antigenic variants by newer ones.  On a quick re-reading of her paper (I've seen this work presented at ESA twice), I don't think there is much of a connection with Robert Adler's pursuit of stochastic algebraic topology, but even if there was I'm probably not the person to see it.
Figure 1: Katia Koelle's opening slide at the 2009 ESA in ABQ, NM looked more or less like this.  I found it very disturbing every time somebody sneezed during her presentation.
On the other hand I've found this work to be an impressive combination of practical insight combined with the sort of mathematical and statistical detail that the Columbia workshop was targeting.  It's a shame nobody thought to invite her.

[1]Koelle, K., Ratmann, O., Rasmussen, D.A., Pasour, V., Mattingly, J. (2011) A dimensionless number for understanding the evolutionary dynamics of antigenically variable RNA viruses. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B.

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