Social networks affect the spread of diseases in two major ways. First, social networks are the road systems on which pathogen traffic occurs. Since most diseases are directly transmitted from person to person, the web of such contacts forms the social network that is relevant for the spread of an infectious disease, and it is highly dependent on the specific tranmission route of the disease causing organism. Second, social networks are also relevant for the diffusion of health behaviors such as vaccination.
We investigate how these diverse social networks are structured, how they evolve over time, and how their structure affects the processes occuring on these networks. By understanding the interplay between network structure and the dynamical processes on the networks, we can develop methods to influence these processes. For example, by removing specific nodes from networks through immunization, disease spread can be stopped more efficiently with fewer vaccine doses.