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NSF Center for Ecosystems Data Integration and Pandemic Early Warning Systems

Center for Ecosystems Data Integration Initiative

Our world was dramatically changed with the onset of COVID-19. Strategies that were put into place to protect ourselves and our communities met with mixed results. How might we be better prepared to respond to the next health crises like COVID-19, and learn lessons to mitigate the impact of future pandemics? This preparedness requires a robust system to detect signs of a potential pandemic in our environment and within our populations, an early warning system for infectious diseases.  But detection of risk is only the first step.  We must also have coordination and integration of siloed information from a wide range of stakeholders, so that the risk data can be translated into verifiable and actionable strategies that inform public health decisions and involve the broader community in a meaningful way. Such a rapid response system requires true partnership and trust among researchers, public health officials, government, and the public. This project will tackle both challenges in parallel. The team consists of researchers with very different types of expertise, working together in a unique way to build this robust system. These scholars will participate in team building to learn more about each other and what their work contributes to this system. They will bring expertise in genetics, environmental engineering and mathematical modeling to understand patterns of viral infections, to monitor the environment for early signs of concern, and to predict the next pandemic. At the same time, the team will actively, continuously engage and partner with members of diverse community groups. These partnerships will directly inform and provide feedback about changes in the community that should be incorporated into this predictive system and the unique needs of different communities in the event of a future pandemic that will promote community resilience and support a proactive response. 

Project Personnel

Principal Investigators:

Jennifer Surtees PhD; Department of Biochemistry; Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo; 2021.

Jennifer Surtees
(jsurtees@buffalo.edu) - UB Biochemistry
(SARS-CoV-2 sequencing, genomic analysis, community engagement)

Laurene M. Tumiel Berhalter.

Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter 
(tumiel@buffalo.edu) - UB
Family Medicine
(Community-based participatory research, community engagement) 

Yinyin Ye October 2021.

Yinyin Ye (yinyinye@buffalo.edu) – UB Environmental Engineering (Wastewater)

Bruce Pitman.

Bruce Pitman (pitman@buffalo.edu) - UB Materials Design and Innovation (Mathematical Modeling)

Wen Dong.

Wen Dong (wendong@buffalo.edu) – UB Computer Science and Engineering (Machine Learning & Big Data)

Other Senior Personnel:

  • Diana Aga – Chemistry, CAS (Pharmaceutical detection in wastewater)
  • Jonathan Bard – Biochemistry and Genomics CORE, JSMBS (Bioinformatic analysis)
  • Ian Bradley – Environmental Engineering, SEAS (Wastewater)
  • Andrew Crooks – Geography, CAS (Modeling and Data mining)
  • Thomas Feeley – Communications, CAS (Modes of Communication about Risk)
  • Gabrielle Graham – Director of Community Engagement  - Buffalo Museum of Science
  • Amy Jacobs – Microbiology & Immunology, JSMBS (Virology)
  • Naoki Masuda – Mathematics, CAS (Mathematical Modeling)
  • Heather Orom – Community Health and Health Behavior, SPHHP (Community engagement, science comm.)
  • Mike Rembis – History, CAS (Disability studies)
  • A. Erdem Sariyuce – Computer Science and Engineering, SEAS (Mathematical modeling)
  • Jinhi Xi – Computer Science and Engineering, SEAS (Machine learning – truth discovery)
  • Donald Yergeau – Director sequencing lab at Genomics and Bioinformatics Core

Collaborators and Trainees:

  • Troi Green – NYS Public Health Fellow – Community Partnership focus
  • Na (Richard) Jiang – Postdoctoral Fellow: Geography – Modeling focus (ABM)
  • Adam Sullivan – UB-Community partnership coordinator – Community Partnership focus
  • Jamaal Emerson – PhD student: Microbiology & Immunology – Genomics and Community Partnership foci
  • Emily Segelhurst – MS student: Environmental Engineering – Wastewater focus
  • Lahiruni Halwatura – PhD student: Chemistry – Wastewater focus
  • Naike Belizaire – MPH student – Community Partnership focus
  • Simran Utreja – MS student: Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics – Genomics focus
  • Sanchit Goel – MS student: Material Design and Innovation – Modeling focus
  • Sayem Khan – PhD student: Computer Science – Modeling focus
  • Minghua Wang – PhD student: Computer Science – Modeling focus
  • Qingqing Chen – PhD student: Geography – Modeling focus 

Related News and Information

Upcoming Events

PIPP Workshops

August 24, 2023 – 10 am - 2:30 pm at the UB Downtown Gateway Building at 77 Goodell Street, Buffalo, NY 

Community partnership workshop – open to all (NSF-funded)

This hands-on workshop will provide background and different approaches to community-based participatory research and community engagement.  We will also explore where and how research and engagement intersect.

We will discuss modes of communication with the community and strategies for building authentic, two-way relationships with community partners. We will discuss science communication in informal learning environments. We will share, and invite participants to share, strategies for developing engaging hands-on, inquiry-based activities for a variety of audiences.

Lunch will be provided and will present the opportunity for informal networking and discussion for participants.

Registration deadline is August 22.

Past Events

PIPP Workshops

July 7, 2023 – 10 am – 3:30 pm – Davis Hall, University at Buffalo North campus, Buffalo, NY

Modeling workshop – open to all

This workshop provided an overview of the 4 different modeling approaches that are being tested and the rationale for each.

The morning session covered 2 approaches, going into detail about the underlying assumptions, background and implementation.

Lunch was provided and promoted interactions amongst participants. 

The afternoon session covered 2 modeling approaches. This session finished with a discussion of integration of these approaches.

June 29, 2023 – 10 am – 3 pm – Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Buffalo, NY
Networking and partnership building workshop with invited external participants 

June 26-30 2023, UB Medical Campus, Buffalo, NY
The Eric Pitman Annual Summer Workshop in Computational Science
High School workshop. 

Organized by co-investigator Bruce Pitman, the Center for Computational Research hosted a workshop for high school students in 1999. This event has been held annually, until Covid shut things down in 2020. Every year students learned basic programming in some computing language, and worked on team projects. The topics of these projects varied from year to year – from computational chemistry to bioinformatics to materials science, and more. This year Dr. Pitman, CCR, and colleagues in the Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (including PIPP senior investigator Jonathan Bard and Community partner Dr. Sandra Small) are reviving the workshop. Students will learn about genomic sequencing of water samples from local streams, and give a presentation on their work. As part of the workshop students will visit several laboratories on UB’s medical campus and hear lectures from UB scientists from several disciplines, including members of the PIPP team.

June 9, 2023, 10 am - 3 pm at NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
Genomics Workshop

During the morning session for this event, attendees were provided with background and details about library preparation and different approaches to genomic sequencing, including amplicon sequencing and RNA-seq. This included time in the sequencing lab at the UB Genomics and Bioinformatics Core.

During the lunch that was provided, participants had the opportunity for informal networking and discussion.

The afternoon session gave participants an overview of the bioinformatic pipelines that we use. It also delved into some of the nitty-gritty details, in order to provide a robust understanding of the data – for incorporation into models.

Jun 17, 2023, 11am-8pm at Buffalo, Martin Luther King Park, Buffalo, NY 

STEM outreach for the community – part of the Health Sciences tent 

Buffalo 5/14 Remembrance Weekend of Reflection, Healing and Hope

May 12-14, 2023. Buffalo, NY

STEM outreach event for the community – a collaboration between the City of Buffalo and the University at Buffalo

PIPP Retreats

April 15, 2023, 12-3pm at Davis Hall, North Campus, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY

October 22, 2022, 11am - 2pm at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences , University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY

PIPP Retreats provide an opportunity for the whole team to meet in person to discuss progress and future plans.