Projects

The UVA Bay Game®

The UVa Bay Game® is a large-scale participatory simulation of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in the United States. The Bay Game consists of a systems dynamics simulation model (STELLA/ iThink) with a game-player front-end. The game simulates 20 years on the Chesapeake Bay from 2000 through 2010 in ten, two-year rounds. Players in each of the seven sub-watersheds take the roles of crop farmer, livestock farmer (beef, dairy, pork, and poultry), land developer, waterman (crab fishing), and various regulators. At each round of game play, decisions are input and the model is advanced. Based on the results, players can modify their decisions for subsequent rounds. For the first five rounds of the game, empirical results are known from public sources. Game players can compare their decisions with what actually happened. For the last five rounds, environmental conditions (for example, water flow) are simulated. The Bay Game has been used in college classrooms, among public officials, and with large U.S. industries that are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of water quality and quantity on their future operations.

The UVa Bay Game® is now being re-written as a platform to enable the building of similar participatory simulations for other, global watersheds.

Research Assistant: Michael Purvis
Graduate students: Patrick Harrison, Chee Chun (Johnny) Gan www.virginia.edu/baygame

Computing for Sustainable Water

The Computing for Sustainable Water (CFSW) project is one of three water-related projects selected to run on the IBM World Community Grid. This project evolved from the UVa Bay Game as a very detailed, simulation-only model of the Chesapeake Bay. Not a game, the CFSW model simulates over 34,000 spatial areas; 1,069 river and stream segments; and 4 million households over a 20-year period on a monthly basis. The model explores the potential outcomes of various practices ("Best Management Practices") on the nutrient loads reaching and impacting Bay health.

The CFSW project will launch publicly on April 16, 2012 and will be available for execution on the World Community Grid, a network of nearly 2 million contributed computers. The model runs in the background of these volunteered computers using otherwise idle cycles and not interfering with the owner's applications. There will be over 1.3 million experiments distributed to computers on the World Community Grid, each requiring approximately 7 hours of computing time. If this work were done on the UVa Cross-Campus Computing Grid (XCG), it would take about 90 years to complete; with the power of the IBM World Community Grid, it will require less than one year.

Collaborators: Jeffrey Plank Ph.D., David Smith Ph.D., Mark White Ph.D., William Sherman M.F.A.
Graduate student: Ryan Bobko
www.faculty.virginia.edu/CFSW
www.worldcommunitygrid.org

Water and Health in Limpopo - The WHIL-ABM

Limpopo Province, formerly the Northern Province (a homeland), is located in South Africa. Beginning is 2008, a multidisciplinary team of researchers from UVa, working with faculty and students from the University of Venda in Limpopo, undertook a project to provide clean water to two selected villages in the hope and expectation of reducing the effects of Early Childhood Diarrhea caused by pathogens in drinking water. After conducting a census of the villages in 2009, using a smartphone-based tool, an agent-based model (ABM) of the villages was constructed to serve as an in silico test bed for a range of planned interventions. The WHIL-ABM allowed the testing of proposed interventions prior to their implementation in the field. The WHIL-ABM showed a dramatic impact from the proposed use of ceramic water filters. As a result, a ceramic water filter factory is being built in the area providing not only filtration devices for in- home use but also much needed employment for local citizens. The WHIL-ABM continues to be developed as empirical data is collected.

Graduate students: Jeffrey Demarest (M.S., 2010), Jon Mellor (Ph.D. Candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering)
www.whil-project.org

Modeling the U.S. Healthcare System

With the passage two years ago of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or simply the ACA, the United States is about to embark on a large-scale change in its healthcare system. Certain provisions of the ACA have already become law but its major provisions will be enacted in 2014. Much of the debate about the ACA is based on expectations of how it will or will not work in improving coverage, access, quality, and the cost of healthcare. This enormous undertaking is not only a complicated piece of legislation, it is highly complex in that the interactions of its various components are not as yet well understood and there may, as often happens, be unintended consequences and unexpected outcomes hiding in the details. In order to explore these possibilities in advance of their enactment, a participatory simulation is under construction that, like the UVa Bay GameĀ®, will allow live "players" to engage with a simulation model in the roles of patients, providers, payors, policy-makers, and drug and medical device makers. The model is designed to be value-neutral to allow a range of choices and decisions to be explored by players in the simulated environment in order to experience prospective, possibly counter-intuitive, outcomes and to better understand the interaction effects of different assumptions.

Collaborators: Arthur Garson M.D., M.P.H.; Carolyn Engelhard M.P.A.
Graduate students: James Burke, Matthew Engelhard

Modeling the Transmission of Mulidrug-Resistant Infections in the ICU

Hospitals in general, and intensive care units (ICUs) in particular harbor infectious pathogens that are increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment. In order to curtail the transmission of these infections among patients and hospital staff, an understanding of the transmission pathways is needed. At its initial stage, this project is not concerned with the biology of the transmission but rather the practicalities of transmission from person to person by contact. Initially, an agent-based model was constructed to model the comings and goings of patients and staff in the UVa Medical Center's ICUs. The basic model is verified against historical patterns. The next stage of model development is to attempt to reproduce the pattern of transmission between patients who have contracted to multi-drug resistant strains, again based on empirical evidence. Lastly, the model will be extended to examine a biological aspect of transmission by exploring selected plasmids as they find convenient bacterial hosts in the process of transmission.

Collaborator: Kyle Enfield, M.D., M.S.
Graduate student: Mark Paddrik

Modeling the Process of New Product Development

The process of developing new products typically requires the expertise of several disciplines (such as research and development, engineering, marketing, and manufacturing), especially in large development projects. Additionally, the teams and individuals that represent these various disciplines are connected in terms of the decisions they make. In other words, what one team or individual does often influences or impacts other teams and individuals and the portion of the project for which they are responsible. This interdependency of organizational elements (e.g. teams) and physical subsystems of a product, coupled with significant uncertainty and change during the NPD process, lead to characterizing the process as a complex system. The principal aim of this project is to use principles of complexity science to gain insight into factors that drive successful (and unsuccessful) new product development efforts. Specifically, we use Kauffman's NK model of fitness landscapes to explore how product and team structures, or patterns of interaction, affect process and product performance. Additionally, we aim to build stochastic models to examine the role that incentives within the NPD process. Ultimately, we hope to develop a set of heuristics, based on the finding of our research, which can inform new product development strategy and management.

Graduate student: Kyle Oyama