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MSU scientist develops tools for managing pandemics

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In collaboration with several other universities, MSU's Alex Washburne has developed a mathematical tool for understanding pandemics. PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXABAY.COM

MSU NEWS SERVICE

BOZEMAN – As a research scientist in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Montana State University, Alex Washburne and his collaborators from MSU, Duke University and the University of California San Diego developed a novel mathematical tool to better understand disease and manage pandemics.

They explained it in February in Ecological Monographs, a scientific journal of the Ecological Society of America. The paper, on which Washburne is lead author, is titled, “Phylofactorization: A Graph Partitioning Algorithm to Identify Phylogenetic Scales of Ecological Data.”

The tool they developed combines computer modeling and Darwin’s tree of life to help researchers simplify and focus their work.

“By identifying groups of organisms that are associated with disease and share common ancestors millions of years ago, researchers can target these organisms and their relatives for future studies,” said Washburne.

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