Frontiers In Science Talk Will Address Coexisting With COVID-19: Disease Forecasting And Science With LANL’s Nick Hengartner And Guests

LANL statistical modeling expert Nick Hengartner and guests will discuss what the Lab has learned about COVID-19 during an upcoming Frontiers in Science talk. Photo Courtesy LANL


On Wednesday, Feb. 24, the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows invite the community to the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 in “Coexisting with COVID-19 and the role of science,” the latest installment of the now-virtual Frontiers in Science series.

Join some of the Lab’s top minds, including statistical modeling expert Nick Hengartner, for a fascinating discussion on what we’ve learned about the coronavirus down to the genomic level, and what the scientific outlook is for the future of humanity’s relationship with the virus post-inoculation.

As the former leader of the Theoretical Biology and Biophysics group for more than seven years, Hengartner is privy to the astonishing work of one of the few research groups in the world devoted to mathematical modeling and computational analysis of problems in cellular and molecular biology.

Research efforts include understanding dynamics and treatment of viral diseases such as HIV, influenza and hepatitis as well as immune system modeling and much, much more.


In December 2019, far away news of a new virus infecting people linked to a wet market in central China seemed at first a distant distraction. A month later, it was in the USA. Since then, it has spread like wildfire into every corner of America, including New Mexico.

As the wave of sickness and death swelled worldwide, Laboratory scientists, engineers and others mobilized, pulling together every resource available. By early summer, the Lab was hard at work on more than 40 projects targeted solely on mitigating and defeating COVID-19.

With a deep history in epidemiological modeling and research, and world-leading computational biology, the Lab was able to pivot quickly, turning its stable of world-renowned experts loose on the pandemic, coming at the disease from myriad angles to develop forecasts and modeling on disease spread, virus variations, health effects and even human social behavior.

In a remarkably short period of time, the Lab’s work changed America’s understanding of the pandemic and helped lay the groundwork for the rollout of a vaccine that could help end the worst viral outbreak anywhere since the Spanish flu. Locally and nationally, government officials faced with difficult decisions about schools, businesses, nursing homes and more consulted with the Lab to determine which actions could minimize infection and death.

Find out what we’ve learned so far about

  • How fast COVID-19 spreads
  • How to forecast the number of new infections and use that information to help guide policies
  • The impact of vaccinations on eradicating the virus
  • Understanding threats brought on by new strains of the virus

This moderated discussion begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, and is tailored for a general audience, including students. Register now and submit your questions here.

This series of conversations with scientists, engineers and other experts is a public service of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows. Fellows are appointed by the Laboratory Director in recognition of sustained outstanding contributions and exceptional promise for continued professional achievement. All talks are open to the public and free of charge.