Virginia Tech™home

Why is it dangerous to introduce foreign species into our community?

Yang Cao, CS

Dr. Yang Cao

April 02, 2016
An interactive session led by Dr. Yang Cao

Associate professor of Computer Science Department at Virginia Tech

  In every international travel, passengers are required to go through a security checkpoint by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Do you know why? Each year, CBP officers intercept tens of thousands of goods that are identified through scientific risk assessment and study as being dangerous to the health and safety of U.S. agricultural resources. Why these seemly harmless goods are considered dangerous? That’s because they may contain foreign species. A foreign species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its native distributional range, brought there by human activity. Non-native species can have various effects and sometimes present great threat on the local ecosystem, In this interactive session we will use simple mathematical models to demonstrate how a foreign species can reproduce and spread in a local ecosystem and why that introduction may present great danger to local habitats.

Dr. Yang Cao is an associate professor of Computer Science Department at Virginia Tech. He got BS and MS degrees in Mathematics and a PHD degree in Computer Science. His research is in an interdisciplinary area called Computational Biology, which applies mathematical modeling and analysis, as well as computational tools, to study biological systems. Students who work in his lab build mathematical models to study underlying mechanisms that help cellular systems survive and reproduce in nature.

After the interactive session the students will be escorted by their parents to have lunch and then to the hands-on portion of the event. There the students will enjoy the experience of interacting with various exhibits from the Virginia Tech community.