The Bridge - Issue 1, 2021 - 10

Feature

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Staff Mobilize to Combat Novel Coronavirus

The lab also made LandScan USA, which provides
day-and-night population dynamics data at a spatial
resolution of 90 meters, available to the public in
support of the pandemic response.
" Our goal is to provide improved situational
awareness and insight into what is happening in
different regions of the country and how different
areas and populations are responding and reacting
to conditions and interventions, " said ORNL's
Budhu Bhaduri.
This research was supported by the DOE Office of
Science through the National Virtual Biotechnology
Laboratory, a consortium of DOE national laboratories
focused on response to COVID-19, with funding
provided by the Coronavirus CARES Act.
Figure 5: In concert with other national labs, ORNL is using modeling
and analysis tools to determine what is happening in different regions
of the country and how different areas and populations are responding
and reacting to COVID-19. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

openings and closings, " said Jesse Piburn of ORNL
who constructed the model with Nicholas Nagle,
a University of Tennessee professor of geography.
" That's where the major decisions that really affect
people are made. "
Aggregated and anonymized commercial location
data provide a unique window into human activity
during such events as the national, regional, and local
shutdowns amid the pandemic. ORNL researchers
used aggregate mobility data to build empirically
sound estimates of where people spent time away
from home during the pandemic-work, school, or
elsewhere-as case numbers rose and fell.
" We use these digital traces to assess the extent
of individual behavior changes aimed at slowing
COVID-19 spread, " said ORNL's Christa Brelsford.
" We can measure how local and national case rates
change in response to mitigation efforts across all
three waves of the pandemic so far. This is useful
for policymakers who want to understand how their
intervention strategies, like lockdowns or school
closures, influence behavior-which is the factor that
actually matters for reducing COVID-19 cases. "

THE BRIDGE

ATOM collaboration
ORNL is part of a multi-lab effort within the
Accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in
Medicine, or ATOM, consortium, a public-private
partnership focused on dramatically reducing the
time it takes to discover and develop new medicines
through the application of leading-edge technologies
like machine learning and artificial intelligence.
" ATOM applies computational workflows and
supercomputing to optimize the safety and
effectiveness of new molecules with the potential to
become drugs, " said ORNL's Marti Head, a co-creator
of ATOM. " These computational tools were created
to accelerate cancer drug discovery. But we can apply
these tools to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes
COVID-19, as more data becomes available from
laboratories across the world on the interactions of
small molecules with Sars-CoV-2 proteins. "
-Ashley Huff, Scott Jones, Matt Lakin, Morgan McCorkle,
and Olivia Trani

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Staff Mobilize to Combat Novel Coronavirus

FEATURED RESEARCHERS
Dr. Christa Brelsford is a research
scientist in the Geospatial Science and
Human Security Division at ORNL.
Her research uses data science tools
from economics, geography, network
science, and spatial statistics to
describe the coevolutionary processes
between human systems and the
built and natural environment. These
analyses have focused on urban contexts, exploring themes
of urban water management, infrastructure provisioning and
resilience, and human behavioral responses to surprising
events. Dr. Brelsford was a Liane B. Russell fellow at ORNL and
a postdoctoral fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. She obtained her
Ph.D. from the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University
in 2014 for research on the determinants of residential
water demand. She is currently leading efforts to use novel
data sources such as digital trace data to generate real-time
measures of community structure and behavior change and
to describe the drivers and consequences of those outcomes
from a national security perspective.
Dr. Stephan Irle is a senior researcher
and leader of the Computational
Chemistry and Nanomaterials Sciences
Group at ORNL. He is a founding
principal investigator at the Institute
of Transformative Bio-Molecules at
Nagoya University and a member of
the Japanese " post-K supercomputer "
support project. His specialty is the
quantum chemical study of complex systems on exascale
and quantum computing platforms. Target areas are soft
matter and biosimulations, excited states of large molecules,
electrochemistry, catalysis, and geosciences. Complementary
studies of physicochemical properties, theoretical spectroscopy,
and the development of methodologies including approximate
quantum chemical methods accompany this research. He holds
a B.Sc. in chemistry from the University of Siegen, Germany; an
M.Sc.in chemistry from the University of Siegen, Germany; and a
Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Vienna, Austria. He is a
fellow of the American Association for the Advancement
of Science.

Feature

Dr. Jessy Labbé is staff researcher and
leads the Fungal Systems Genetics and
Biology Laboratory in the Biosciences
Division at ORNL. He is a molecular
geneticist with expertise in medical and
environmental mycology. He is also
a faculty member at the University of
Tennessee, Knoxville, in the Biochemistry,
Cellular and Molecular Biology
Department and the Genome Science and Technology program.
After training as an M.D. in infectious disease research, Dr. Labbé
also received a Ph.D. in forest microbiology from the University
of Lorraine, France. His research interests focus on interactions
of fungal systems in natural and synthetic environments. His
laboratory uses a combination of cutting-edge technologies,
ranging from next-generation sequencing, post-genomics,
molecular genetics/synthetic biology to microcosm systems
biology, with specific emphases on the genetic and molecular
mechanisms of the host-fungus and microbe-fungus interactions.
Jesse Piburn is a research scientist
in geographic data sciences at ORNL
and is a member of the Geographic
Data Sciences Group within the National
Security and Emerging Technology
Division. His primary responsibilities
include identifying, developing, and
implementing data science-based
solutions to help solve a variety of
national and global issues involving national security, population
dynamics, energy assuredness, natural resources, and critical
infrastructure. Jesse is currently finishing his Ph.D. in data science
and engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His
research interests include data science, machine learning,
geographic information science, spatial-temporal statistics,
and statistical software development.
Dr. Scott Retterer is a senior staff
scientist in the Biosciences and Center
for Nanoscale Materials Sciences
Divisions at ORNL. His work focuses
on the development of material
interfaces that can be used to shape
soft materials and biological systems
with an emphasis on understanding the
effects of nanoscale structure, molecular
transport, and chemical patterning on material formation and
biological processes. With continued work in refining methods for
integrating nanostructures into functional arrays and microfluidic
systems, his current research focuses on understanding how
these structures can be used to control the physical and chemical
environment within microfluidic platforms to replicate complex
natural environments in tractable experimental systems.
Dr. Retterer received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from
Cornell University in 2005. He is a faculty member in the
Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research at the University
of Tennessee, Knoxville.

HKN.ORG

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The Bridge - Issue 1, 2021

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