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About Us

Association for Infectious Disease Education, Preparedness, and Data Generation

2022 OO-BYU
Lexi Brady, Craig Decker, Dr. Brett Pickett, Mauri Dobbs, Celeste Tolley, Carina Thiriot, Thomas Armond, and Naomi Rapier-Sharman (not pictured) Photo by Nancy Morrill

About Us

BYU Operation Outbreak (OO), a student association in connection with Operation Outbreak, was founded with the goal of educating students about infectious diseases through experiential learning. OO-BYU enables BYU undergraduate students to facilitate outbreak simulations at BYU and in K-12 schools while generating epidemiological models to improve understanding of outbreak culture among participants. OO-BYU provides opportunities for students in science, technology, engineering, and math to apply their learning while at the same time creating opportunities for participant education.

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USA Today, "A school project began as a pandemic lesson. Harvard got interested, then COVID-19 hit."

The Hechinger Report, "Operation Outbreak: Simulating a pandemic while living it"

College of Life Sciences, "Simulating Campus's COVID with Operation Outbreak"

The Daily Universe, "Virus simulation results show BYU pandemic-related policies are effective"

The Daily Universe, "BYU Operation Outbreak hosts virtual disease simulation"


College of Life Sciences, "Operation Outbreak: Educating our community through pandemic simulations"

The Daily Universe, "Highlights from BYU Colleges: Elder Rascon passes ABC13 anchoring torch to son, students simulate pandemic spread"

Broad Institute, "Deployment of outbreak-simulating app on college campuses reveals hidden transmission pathways"

Our Team

Brett Pickett, PhD

Assistant Professor in MMBio. Dr. Pickett finished schooling and worked in the biotech, industry, and academic fields prior to coming to BYU in 2019. Dr. Pickett's research lab mines data using the BYU supercomputer to learn how human cells react to disease--whether by infection or by other means. His group then uses this information to repurpose existing therapeutic drugs to reduce the effects of infectious diseases. Dr. Pickett lives in Pleasant Grove with his wife and 6 kids (4 girls and 2 boys).

Curtis Hoffmann

Microbiology major from Orem, UT. Curtis is planning to pursue a PhD in Virology and subsequent MPH. Curtis aims to understand outbreak culture and build bridges between public health systems so that societies are better equipped to handle (or prevent) the next pandemic. Curtis started OO-BYU to enhance public health education in Utah.

Craig Decker

Molecular biology major from Seattle, WA. Craig wants to go to medical school to work on the clinical implementation of cell therapies and genetic treatments. Craig joined OO-BYU because he likes the idea of involving a whole community to participate in research and experimental learning.

Madison Gray

Biochemistry major from Lehi, UT. Madi wants to receive her PhD. in immunology to create recovery and preventative treatment plans for tropical diseases. Madi joined OO-BYU to help study and gain experience with virus outbreaks and spreading patterns to apply to further research.

Thomas Armond

Physiology and Developmental Biology major from Provo, UT. Thomas wants to pursue a career in health care. Thomas joined OO-BYU to help students - young and old - learn more about the mechanisms of outbreak response and the impact they have on the world.

Kennedy Gifford

Applied Physics major from Saratoga Springs, UT. Kennedy joined OO-BYU to help implement engaging and scientifically meaningful learning experiences for youth and communities.

Grace Erickson

Public Health major from Selah, WA. Grace is planning to go to graduate school with an interest in working in public health policy and community health education. Grace joined OO-BYU because she enjoys educating students to be more aware of their impact on the health of others.

Christopher Rich

Microbiology major from Salt Lake City, UT. Chris has plans to attend medical school and pursue a career in medicine with an interest in surgery. Chris joined OO-BYU because he wanted to educate others on the impact infectious diseases can have.

Featured Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the many people that have worked very hard to make this simulation a reality.

Evan Thacker, PhD, Associate Professor - Public Health Faculty

Lori Spruance, PhD, Assistant Professor - Public Health Faculty

Tanya Gale, Secretary - Public Health Faculty

Len Novilla, MPH, Associate Professor - Health Science Faculty

Tonya Fischio, Communications Manager - College of Life Sciences

Forrest Stull - Graphic Design