Meagan Todd, a student in the Academy of Integrated Science’s Systems Biology program, is participating in a highly competitive Summer Research Experience at the University of Tennessee, sponsored by the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis – or NIMBioS for short.

Her research team’s project -- modeling networking and opioid addiction -- examines how social networks may either exacerbate opioid addiction through formation of contacts to obtain illegal drugs or help support addicts in recovery through social groups. An agent-based model will be developed to help Todd’s team understand how network models might help improve strategies for controlling the addiction epidemic.

Meagan Todd headshot with green foliage

“Taking part in NIMBioS has made me so excited for the future,” Todd said. “I feel as though I can truly see a career in which I apply everything I’ve learned toward making a real difference in the world. Our work on modeling networking and the opioid epidemic has taught me so much already in the short time I’ve been here, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to partake in such important research that could one day help millions of people.

The program began June 4 and ends July 26, and is comprised of participants from across the United States. Students receive free university housing, a stipend of $4,500, and support for travel to and from Knoxville. Participants work in teams with advisors and postdoctoral students in the program, doing research at the interface of mathematics and biology.

NIMBioS is a National Science Foundation-supported initiative to foster interdisciplinary research at the interface between mathematical and biological sciences. 

– Written by Tiffany Trent of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute