Participant Testimonials

Feb 27 - Mar 04, 2011

The workshop was fantastic and I really appreciated the opportunity to attend. The setup of BIRS was perfect for stimulating conversation in a fun, friendly environment. The workshop itself gave me an expanded appreciated of the field, but interestingly the most productive portion occurred during the two extra days (Fri/Sat night) that I was able to spend at BIRS. During that time, Sebastian Funk and I were able to make real progress on a collaborative project for reconciling differing results from branching process and network theory. Thanks for making BIRS the place it is.

Seth Blumberg Ecology & Evolutoinary Biology, NIH Fogarty / UCLA

What a wonderful week! We learned a lot, made great connections, and had a wonderful time. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

David Fisman Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

What a wonderfully organized meeting at BIRS! I made many new contacts and spent a great deal of time discussing both new and ongoing projects with individuals at the meeting in formal and informal sessions (including over our on-site meals). It was a bit like going to summer camp with all of my nerdiest friends and it was fabulous! Lots of fresh insight was gained. In fact, some colleagues and I sketched out a plan for a future research proposal on syphilis in the lounge one evening after the sessions had ended. One of my graduate students also attended the meeting and I feel that it was an invaluable experience for her. It was really exciting to see her become involved in active discussion and debate during the group sessions. The small meeting size really made it possible for graduate students to actively participate and engage with faculty and scientists attending the meeting.

Amy Greer Modelling and Projection Section, Public Health Agency of Canada

I would say my attendance had an effect on the way I have been thinking about my own work. I am a novice in infectious disease modelling so it was very beneficial to see established and rising experts in the field impart some of their own views on modelling. Many of the formal presentations made me think more about and afforded me a better understanding of the connection between my own work and recommendations for and implementation of public health policy. I enjoyed meeting many people I would not get normally get the opportunity to and I also benefited greatly from several individual conversations, from which I derived new insights and also an awareness of some of the existing modelling literature that I previously knew nothing about. One particular conversation has given me a different perspective on the treatment rates in my own model and their epidemiological relevance. I particularly appreciated the theme of the workshop --- control of persistent infectious diseases is something that often gets overshadowed by epidemic outbreaks and so it goes too with modelling. Mathematical issues differ as well between these two situations and, as a relative newcomer to the field, it was useful to see models not devoted to epidemic outbreaks. I did not forge any new collaborations but I was able to get some solid work done on a paper I was already collaborating on with colleagues who also attended the workshop. Perhaps what I found most beneficial and encouraging was the fact that several of the models presented adhered to important epidemiologic principles without becoming unduly complicated mathematically. I come from a fairly strong math background but am still learning how to apply that in an epidemiologically meaningful way. It was therefore a refreshing reminder that fancy math needn't always provide the optimal answer! Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to BIRS and the workshop organizers for the opportunity to attend this workshop. I enjoyed it immensely and found it very rewarding.

Andrew Hill

It was extremely useful for our current research. The meeting was a great forum to see what the community is actively working on, and importantly, to identify new questions and applications that require study - many of which we can tackle through collaborations made at this workshop. The best discussions surrounded issues raised by researchers from different fields. The discussions shared in this meeting generated interesting ideas for our group, many of which I think will develop into fruitful collaborations.

Sharmistha Mishra School of Public Health, Imperial College