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Kevin P. Granata Memorial Lecture -- Data-driven modeling of COVID-19: Lessons Learnt

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

2:30 - 3:45 pm

Zoom link here (email Raffaella DeVita for passcode)

Ellen Kuhl

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Stanford University 


Understanding the outbreak dynamics of COVID-19 through the lens of data-driven modeling is an elusive but significant goal. Within the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in more than 100 million reported cases and more than 2 million deaths worldwide. Unlike any other disease in history, COVID-19 has generated a massive amount of data, well documented, continuously updated, and broadly available. Yet, the precise role of mathematical modeling in providing quantitative insight into the COVID-19 pandemic remains a topic of ongoing debate. Here we discuss the lessons learned from one year of COVID-19 modeling. We highlight the early success of classical infectious disease models and show why these models fail to predict the current dynamics of COVID-19. We illustrate how data-driven modeling can integrate classical epidemiology modeling and machine learning to infer critical disease parameters—in real time—from reported case data to make informed predictions and guide political decision making. We anticipate that this presentation will stimulate discussion within the engineering mechanics community and help provide guidelines for robust mathematical models to understand and manage the COVID-19 pandemic.


Ellen Kuhl is the Walter B. Reinhold Professor in the School of Engineering and Robert Bosch Chair of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Her area of expertise is Living Matter Physics, the design of theoretical and computational models to simulate and predict the behavior of living structures. Ellen has published more than 250 peer-reviewed journal articles. She is a founding member of the Living Heart Project, a translational research initiative to revolutionize cardiovascular science through realistic simulation with 400 participants from research, industry, and medicine. Ellen is the current Chair of the US National Committee on Biomechanics and a Member-Elect of the World Council of Biomechanics. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and of the American Institute for Mechanical and Biological Engineering. She received the NSF Career Award in 2010, the Humboldt Research Award in 2016, and the ASME Ted Belytschko Applied Mechanics Award in 2021. Ellen is an All American triathlete, a multiple Boston, Chicago, and New York marathon runner, and a Kona Ironman World Championship finisher.