Welcome!
I am currently a Visiting Assistant
Professor in the Department of Mathematics
at Virginia Tech. I was formerly an NSF DIRACRTG
postdoctoral fellow in the Department of
Applied Mathematics at the University of California,
Merced. In 2022 I was supported by the American Association of
Immunologists (AAI) Intersect Fellowship. My
pronouns are she/her/hers.
I am an applied mathematician working in mathematical
biology. My research lies at the interface of dynamical
systems, numerical analysis, uncertainty quantification,
inverse problems, and their applications to complex
biological systems. In addition to developing and
analyzing mathematical models, I have also gained handson
experience in experimental design through collaboration
with biologists.
I cofounded the Math and Computer
Science Research Engagement (MCoRE) group at UC
Merced in Fall 2022, a group aims to foster academic
engagements between UC Merced and the local community in
order to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM fields,
both in industry and academia. MCoRE is currently
supported by a Civic Engagement Microgrant from
Research!America.
About Me
Education
 Ph.D. in Mathematics, University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette), 2012–2017
 B.S. in Fundamental and Applied Mathematics, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT), 2007–2011
Academic Appointment
 Visiting Assistant Professor, Department
of Mathematics, Virginia Tech, 2023present
 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of
Applied Mathematics, University of California,
Merced (UC Merced), 2020–2023
– AAI Intersect Postdoctoral Fellow, 2022–2023
– NSF DIRACRTG Postdoctoral Researcher, 2020–2022, 2023
– Affiliate Member, Health Sciences Research Institute, 2021–2023  Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Modeling Collaboration and Innovation (IMCI), University of Idaho (UI), 2018–2020
Selected Awards

Convergence Accelerator Team Award, with Childs, Edholm, Patterson, Ponce, Prosper, and Qu ; the NSFSimons Center for Multiscale Cell Fate Research, University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine), 2022

2022 Intersect Fellowship for Computational Scientists and Immunologists; the American Association of Immunologists (AAI)

Career Booster Award, with Omosun; Center for Complex Biological Systems (CCBS), UC Irvine, 2019

National First Prize, China Undergraduate Mathematical Contest in Modeling 2010 (CUMCM2010)

National Second Prize, CUMCM2009
MOOC
 Introduction to Complexity, Santa Fe Institute.
Certificate earned on Dec 4, 2019. [URL]
 Introduction to Dynamical Systems and Chaos, Santa Fe Institute. Certificate earned on Dec 3, 2019. [URL]
 Introduction to AgentBased Modeling, Santa Fe
Institute. Certificate earned on Sept 17, 2019. [URL]
 R Programming, Johns Hopkins University, Coursera. Certificate earned on June 21, 2019. [URL]
 The Data Scientist’s Toolbox, Johns Hopkins
University, Coursera. Certificate earned on June 10,
2019. [URL]
Media
 ''Postdoc
Awarded Fellowship to Support Computation and
Immunology Crosstraining''
 ''Earlycareer researchers gear up for virtual Mathematics Research Communities''
Research
I develop and analyze mathematical models
to explain observed experimental dynamics of biological
systems and gain insight into underlying mechanisms. I
believe that mathematical biology at its best requires an
iterative approach in developing mathematical and biological
understanding, in which biological phenomena motivate the
development and refinement of mathematical models, and
mathematical results guide the refinement of empirical
studies. I have used this iterative approach in my research,
and the mathematical techniques I use are tailored to the
specific scenario.
My work has involved both analytical and numerical
approaches, inverse problem methodologies, stochastic and
deterministic modeling frameworks, bioinformatic analysis,
and multiscale modeling approaches. Below is a list of
selected ongoing projects.
Modeling Immunity to Malaria with an AgeStructured PDE Framework
Modeling the Effectiveness of Dosing Regimens of Oral Hormonal Contraceptives
Publications
PeerReviewed Journal Articles:

Lihong Zhao, Stephanie R. Lundy, Francis O. Eko, Joeseph U. Igietseme, Yusuf O. Omosun. ``Genital tract microbiome dynamics are associated with time of Chlamydia infection''. Scientific Reports (2023) 13:9006. doi: 10.1038/s41598023361303

Zhuolin Qu, Denis Patterson, Lauren Childs, Christina Edholm, Joan Ponce, Olivia Prosper, Lihong Zhao. ``Modeling Immunity to Malaria with an AgeStructured PDE Framework''. SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics (2023) 83(3):10981125. doi: 10.1137/21M1464427

Lihong Zhao, Fabian Santiago, Erica M. Rutter, Shilpa Khatri, Suzanne Sindi. ``Modeling and Global Sensitivity Analysis of Strategies to Mitigate COVID19 Transmission on a Structured College Campus''. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology (2023) 85:13. doi: 10.1007/s11538022011072

A. Ali Heydari, Oscar A. Davalos, Lihong Zhao, Katrina K. Hoyer, Suzanne S. Sindi. ``ACTIVA: realistic singlecell RNAseq generation with automatic celltype identification using introspective variational autoencoders''. Bioinformatics (2022): btac095. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btac095

Azmy S. Ackleh, Karyn L. Sutton, Tinging Tang, Lihong Zhao. ``A Second Order Finite Difference Scheme for a Variable InfectionStructured Model of Mycobacterium marinum Dynamics in Aquatic Animals''. Journal of Nonlinear and Variational Analysis (2018) 2(2):177202. doi: 10.23952/jnva.2.2018.2.06

Karyn L. Sutton, Lihong Zhao, Jacoby Carter. ``The Estimation of Growth Dynamics for Pomacea maculata from Hatchling to Adult''. Ecosphere (2017) 8(7): e01840. doi: 10.1002/ecs2.1840

Jared T. Guilbeau, Md Istiaq Hossain, Sam D. Karhbet, Ralph Baker Kearfott, Temitope S. Sanusi, Lihong Zhao. ``A Review of Computation of Mathematically Rigorous Lower Bounds on Optima of Linear Integer Programs''. Journal of Global Optimization (2017) 68:677683. doi: 10.1007/s1089801604892
PeerReviewed Articles in Proceedings:

Lihong Zhao, Ruby Kim, Lucy S. Oremland, Mukti Chowkwale, Lisette G. de Pillis, and Heather Z. Brooks. ''A survey of mathematical modeling of hormonal contraception and the menstrual cycle''.
Other Articles:

Lihong Zhao. ``The Vaginal Microbiota and Its Association with Chlamydia''. SIAM News, December 14, 2022. [link]

Jared T. Guilbeau, Md Istiaq Hossain, Sam D. Karhbet, Ralph Baker Kearfott, Temitope S. Sanusi, Lihong Zhao. ``Advice for mathematically rigorous bounds on optima of linear programs''. Technical report, University of Louisiana at Lafayette (2016). [pdf]
Under Review:
 Susana TejedaGaribay, Lihong Zhao,
Nicholas Hum, Maria Pimentel, Anh L. Diep, Dina R.
Weilhammer, Gabriela G. Loots, Katrina K. Hoyer. ``In
vitro Inhibition of Coccidioides Growth by the
Tracheal and Intestinal Microbiomes''.