Joint Fields PHAC Deep Dive Seminar – ‘From the discovery of the Higgs boson to Modelling the COVID-19 pandemic’

Bruce Mellado, iThemba LABS & University of Witswatersrand

The discovery of the Higgs boson and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2012 was a momentous event in the history of Particle Physics, fifty years in the making. The Higgs field provides elementary particles with mass and it completes the Standard Model of Particle Physics. The observation of the Higgs boson is a quintessential Big Big Data problem that includes the extensive use of Machine Learning.

Significant technology transfer efforts in the area of Machine Learning have been re-directed towards modelling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Advanced analytics and Artificial Intelligence have been used to provide recommendations to policymakers in South Africa. Here we describe our contribution to modelling the pandemic in South Africa. In particular, some emphasis will be made on how Machine Learning is helping device smart algorithms to roll out vaccination in the country.

Bruce Mellado has a PhD from Columbia University and is a Full Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, a Senior Researcher of iThemba LABS and serves as the Director of the Institute for Collider Particle Physics. Prof. Mellado is the National Contact Physicist of South Africa at the ATLAS experiment at CERN and is the co-Chair of the Nuclear Particle and Radiation Division of South African Institute of Physics. He is the recipient of several awards and fellowships. Prof. Mellado is an Internationally acclaimed, B1 rated researcher of the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

Prof. Mellado is an expert on the Higgs boson – a sub-atomic particle that is thought to give matter its mass – and was a leading participant in its discovery that was announced in 2012 and led to the Nobel Prize in Physics being awarded in 2013 to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs. He has attained and continue to have a number of positions of leadership internationally.He is a member of the Gauteng Premier’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee, where he leads work on predictions. He is also the Co-President of the Africa-Canada Artificial Intelligence Data Modelling Consortium. The project received grant awards by the IEEE and the IDRC, and also includes partnerships with IBM and Amazon.

Watch the Seminar: