Leigh B. Pearcy

NSF-GRFP Fellow in Mathematical Biology

I'm a graduate student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) interested in both biological and statistical applications in mathematics.  My primary interest is in mathematical epidemiology, where I examine substance use disorders and develop new methods for model analysis using techniques from optimal control theory.  I have explored the dynamics of both opioid and alcohol use disorders through dynamical systems of ordinary differential equations and agent-based models.  

Before coming to UTK, I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Go Tar Heels!  While completing my undergraduate degree, I obtained an NC state teaching license for mathematics in grades 9-12.

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Research Highlights

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We developed and analyzed one of the first data-driven dynamical systems ODE models with emphasis on how prescription practices beginning in the 1990s drove the current opioid epidemic.

Key results of our work indicate a mathematical condition which must be met in order to reach eradication of opioid use disorder (OUD) and prescription drug abuse. From this, we can find methods of control to reduce instances of OUD at large.