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Rosalind Franklin Lecture 2020 given by Professor Julia Gog OBE



Rosalind Franklin Lecture 2020 given by Professor Julia Gog OBE.

This year, the topic of pandemics needs no introduction. In this pandemic, the role of mathematical modelling has been a central part of the emergency response. Epidemiological concepts such as the R number and herd immunity are no longer confined to academic discussion, but are now firmly in a wider public understanding of the science. But, what does all this mean for us, as people living through the pandemic?

In this talk, Julia Gog discussed some of the COVID-19 research, but also how mathematical ideas can help all of us in understanding what is going on with a pandemic. Models are useful for everyone to build up insights into the inner workings of an epidemic. She argued that models can help all of us make sense of what has happened, and to see what the prospects are for the future with COVID-19. 

Julia Gog is Professor of Mathematical Biology at the University of Cambridge and the David N. Moore Fellow and Director of Studies in Mathematics at Queens’ College, Cambridge. Julia and her research group in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics specialise in modelling the spread and evolution of infectious diseases, particularly influenza. 

In 2018, she and her team were behind the UK’s largest citizen science experiment in collaboration with the BBC, using data contributed by users of a smartphone app to understand better how pandemic influenza might spread across the UK. The massive dataset that resulted from the experiment, the largest and most detailed of its kind, has been put into action to assist with model development for the COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Gog has been providing advice to the Government through SPI-M, the specialist pandemic modelling group that feeds into SAGE, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, as well as through Cambridge’s Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP).

Julia is a keen communicator of science and mathematics to public audiences, and as the LMS popular lecturer in 2014. She has teamed up with the Millennium Mathematics Project throughout her time as a Royal Society University Research Fellow (2004-2012) and beyond to work with schools. She has collaborated with Plus magazine during the coronavirus pandemic to share updates on the mathematical modelling approaches to the pandemic. Julia won the London Mathematical Society’s Whitehead prize in 2017. 

The award

The Rosalind Franklin Award and Lecture is awarded annually and is made to support the promotion of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Professor Julia Gog was awarded the Rosalind Franklin Award and Lecture 2020 for her achievements in the field of mathematics and her impactful project proposal with its potential for a long-term legacy.

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