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ODU Faculty Members Are Winners of Governor's Technology Awards

Two modeling and simulation research projects of Old Dominion University faculty members were among 14 winners of 2011 Governor's Technology Awards presented at a lunchtime ceremony Monday, Sept. 26, in Richmond.

ODU's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) produced a winner with its innovative study of homeowners' strategic mortgage defaults. The project, which won in the category of Cross-Boundary Collaboration in Modeling and Simulation, is led by Michael J. Seiler, professor and Robert M. Stanton Chair of Real Estate and Economic Development in ODU's College of Business and Public Administration, and Andrew J. Collins, research assistant professor with VMASC.

A second win, in the category of Innovative Use of Modeling and Simulation Techniques, went to the Chesapeake (Bay) Inundation Prediction System (CIPS), which is a project of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and ODU's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography. Elizabeth Smith, an ODU assistant research professor in oceanography, has served as project coordinator for CIPS.

"Strategic Mortgage Default in the Context of a Social Network: An Epidemiological Approach" is the title of the project of Seiler and Collins. The researchers have looked beyond homeowner defaults caused by economic circumstances such as job losses. Falling home prices and the prospect of being underwater for many years have caused countless others to voluntarily, or strategically, default on their mortgages.

While no one knows exactly how to measure when a strategic default, as opposed to an economic default, has occurred, most studies strongly suggest that strategic defaults are on the rise. If this is the case, the current recession could become much more severe moving forward, according to the researchers. They liken the increase in strategic default to the outbreak of a disease and incorporated epidemiology techniques into an agent-based simulation model to propose solutions to the current real estate foreclosure contagion crisis plaguing the state's economic health.

Smith took a leadership role in the development of CIPS, which is designed to glean early-warning information from new and existing atmospheric and oceanographic models and expected to become a sophisticated tool for the National Weather Service (NWS).

The prototype of CIPS was successfully tested during Hurricane Isabel in September 2003 and the nor'easter of November 2009, and it was demonstrated in the recent Hurricane Irene. The 30-hour (updated every 6 hours) real-time forecast of wind, water level, and maximum surge provides invaluable information to the NWS and emergency managers to assess the situation and minimize the damage by the natural hazard.

The Governor's Technology Awards were presented at the 2011 Commonwealth of Virginia's Innovative Technology Symposium.

This article was posted on: October 7, 2011

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