Abigail Horn

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki

Hi CSSS 2012!

I am informally known as Abby.

My PhD research, which I'm just beginning in MIT's Engineering System Division, involves identifying the source of spreading in foodborne disease outbreaks. I want to explore the feasibility and practicality of creating aggregated distribution networks for specific commodities and using basic connectivity analysis to narrow down the source identification problem. I'm just beginning to learn how complex and uncertain outbreak tracebacks can be, and would love to hear the thoughts of those of you who have some experience in outbreaks or tracebacks of any kind! I'm also looking for structures to borrow from, so any ideas on what (well-documented) networks might resemble food distribution networks are very much welcomed!

More generally, I am interested in understanding food distribution networks: their general properties (and resilience to disease spreading as they become larger), and behavior such as scaling laws and diffusion patterns. What parameters most influence these behaviors?

Even more generally, I'm interested in exploring the problem of inferring the source of an epidemic in populations, given the limitation of possible observations, and any kind of source of spreading problem in a network – epidemic, traffic, rumors…

My undergrad was at the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara, where I majored in physics and the farmer's market. I have some experience in machine learning (classification of prognosis of sepsis patients) and assessment of low-probability, high-consequence events befalling water distribution networks; also in teaching engineering systems to undergraduates! And I’m getting into the power of probability and am eager to learn more about stochastic processes and stochastic networks.

I am so eager to hike run and explore this area to the maximum in the legacy of Robert Oppenheimer (whose biography, American Prometheus, is both excellent and highly appropriate)!!