skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "White, Easton R."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract Background

    Controlling the spread of infectious diseases―even when safe, transmission-blocking vaccines are available―may require the effective use of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), e.g., mask wearing, testing, limits on group sizes, venue closure. During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, many countries implemented NPIs inconsistently in space and time. This inconsistency was especially pronounced for policies in the United States of America (US) related to venue closure.


    Here, we investigate the impact of inconsistent policies associated with venue closure using mathematical modeling and high-resolution human mobility, Google search, and county-level SARS-CoV-2 incidence data from the USA. Specifically, we look at high-resolution location data and perform a US-county-level analysis of nearly 8 million SARS-CoV-2 cases and 150 million location visits, including 120 million church visitors across 184,677 churches, 14 million grocery visitors across 7662 grocery stores, and 13.5 million gym visitors across 5483 gyms.


    Analyzing the interaction between venue closure and changing mobility using a mathematical model shows that, across a broad range of model parameters, inconsistent or partial closure can be worse in terms of disease transmission as compared to scenarios with no closures at all. Importantly, changes in mobility patterns due to epidemic control measures can lead to increase in the future number of cases. In the most severe cases, individuals traveling to neighboring jurisdictions with different closure policies can result in an outbreak that would otherwise have been contained. To motivate our mathematical models, we turn to mobility data and find that while stay-at-home orders and closures decreased contacts in most areas of the USA, some specific activities and venues saw an increase in attendance and an increase in the distance visitors traveled to attend. We support this finding using search query data, which clearly shows a shift in information seeking behavior concurrent with the changing mobility patterns.


    While coarse-grained observations are not sufficient to validate our models, taken together, they highlight the potential unintended consequences of inconsistent epidemic control policies related to venue closure and stress the importance of balancing the societal needs of a population with the risk of an outbreak growing into a large epidemic.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract New graduate students in biology programs may lack the quantitative skills necessary for their research and professional careers. The acquisition of these skills may be impeded by teaching and mentoring experiences that decrease rather than increase students’ beliefs in their ability to learn and apply quantitative approaches. In this opinion piece, we argue that revising instructional experiences to ensure that both student confidence and quantitative skills are enhanced may improve both educational outcomes and professional success. A few studies suggest that explicitly addressing productive failure in an instructional setting and ensuring effective mentoring may be the most effective routes to simultaneously increasing both quantitative self-efficacy and quantitative skills. However, there is little work that specifically addresses graduate student needs, and more research is required to reach evidence-backed conclusions. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 29, 2024
  3. null (Ed.)
  4. null (Ed.)
  5. null (Ed.)
    Long-term monitoring programs are a fundamental part of both understanding ecological systems and informing management decisions. However, there are many constraints which might prevent monitoring programs from being designed to consider statistical power, site selection, or the full costs and benefits of monitoring. Key considerations can be incorporated into the optimal design of a management program with simulations and experiments. Here, we advocate for the expanded use of a third approach: non-random resampling of previously-collected data. This approach conducts experiments with available data to understand the consequences of different monitoring approaches. We first illustrate non-random resampling in determining the optimal length and frequency of monitoring programs to assess species trends. We then apply the approach to a pair of additional case studies, from fisheries and agriculture. Non-random resampling of previously-collected data is underutilized, but has the potential to improve monitoring programs. 
    more » « less
  6. null (Ed.)
  7. When managing natural systems, the importance of recognizing the role of uncertainty has been formalized as the precautionary approach. However, it is difficult to determine the role of stochasticity in the success or failure of management because there is almost always no replication; typically, only a single observation exists for a particular site or management strategy. Yet, assessing the role of stochasticity is important for providing a strong foundation for the precautionary approach, and learning from past outcomes is critical for implementing adaptive management of species or ecosystems. In addition, adaptive management relies on being able to implement a variety of strategies in order to learn—an often difficult task in natural systems. Here, we show that there is large, stochastically driven variability in success for management treatments to control an invasive species, particularly for moderate, and more feasible, management strategies. This is exactly where the precautionary approach should be important. Even when combining management strategies, we show that moderate effort in management either fails or is highly variable in its success. This variability allows some management treatments to, on average, meet their target, even when failure is probable. Our study is an important quantitative replicated experimental test of the precautionary approach and can serve as a way to understand the variability in management outcomes in natural systems which have the potential to be more variable than our tightly controlled system. 
    more » « less