Mason scientists study inclusion challenges from social isolation
Padmanabhan Seshaiyer, Professor, Mathematical Sciences, and Brian Levy, Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, received funding for: "RAISE:IHBEM: Project INSIGHT: Inclusion of challenges from Social Isolation Governed by Human behavior through Transformative research in epidemiological modeling."
Seshaiyer and Levy are collaborating with Folashade Agusto, Associate Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, on this project.
Project INSIGHT evolved out of a common vision building on two successful RAPID grants (DMS 2028297, 2031029) and an NSF-funded workshop (DMS 1839608) that brought together researchers from mathematical, life, and social sciences, who helped define emerging research challenges and priorities in the mathematical sciences.
The project will analyze the benefits and unanticipated side effects of social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the research team will analyze how isolation curbed spread while, over the longer term, potentially leading to an increase in mental health conditions, substance use, and domestic violence. The grant will also train a collaborative cohort of multidisciplinary scholars to support the STEM pipeline.
Mason PI Seshaiyer said, "This project will not only help provide insights into the nature of the complex disease dynamics impacted by social behavior but also will help to showcase the need for transdisciplinary research from experts in Mathematical Sciences, Social and Economic Sciences along with Behavioral and Cognitive sciences to solve this grand challenge in epidemiology."
Brian Levy, Mason Co-PI on the grant said, "The COVID-19 pandemic clearly shows how social forces lead to varying behavioral responses and unequal outcomes in a public health crisis. Incorporating social and behavioral factors into epidemiological models can improve our responsiveness and facilitate more equitable outcomes.
Seshaiyer and Levy will receive $246,706 from the National Science Foundation, which is part of the overall $1 million award for this project. Funding began in Jan. 2023 and will end in late December 2025.