media release

COVID-19 Hackathon zeros in on available outbreak data

February 18, 2020


Shradhha Sharma; SFU Media Relations, 778.782.3035,

Caroline Colijn; professor & Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Evolution, Infection and Public Health, (Available on Wednesday, Feb. 19 from 10 a.m.-11 a.m.)

Jessica Stockdale; postdoctoral fellow and co-organizer, Coronavirus Hackathon, Department of Mathematics, (Available on Wednesday, Feb. 19 from 10 a.m.-noon)

As the outbreak and global spread of COVID-19 or Coronavirus disease 19 continues to make headlines, researchers at Simon Fraser University will host a hackathon called EpiCoronaHack. Using the available coronavirus data, participants will create their own estimates, models and forecasts connected to incubation periods, transmissibility and other key features of the outbreak, which has claimed more than 1,300 lives.

Led by SFU’s Professor Caroline Colijn, the event will be hosted by the Mathematics, Genomics and Prediction in Infection and Evolution (MAGPIE) Research Group. MAGPIE researchers develop mathematical tools connecting sequence data to ecology and evolution, with a focus on infectious diseases.

Prof. Colijn and postdoc fellow Jessica Stockdale will be available for media interviews during the event on February 19 from 10 a.m. to noon only. They can talk about the role of data and how it is explored through analysis, epidemic modelling, inference and simulation.

Colijn also holds the Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Evolution, Infection and Public Health at SFU. She recently published a pioneering study on how tailoring vaccines based on geography and other factors could reduce overall rates of bacterial disease by half.

The event will also be supported by the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) and the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI).



·      Wednesday, Feb. 19

·      9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 


ASB 10900, CANSSI area, Big Data Hub foyer, SFU Burnaby campus


About Simon Fraser University:

As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change. We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 35,000 students. The university now boasts more than 160,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.