James Petrie is the Head of Research at WeHealth. He is also a PhD candidate studying Applied Mathematics at the University of Waterloo.
James’ involvement began in late 2019, when he started reading about effective altruism and pandemic preparedness. In January of 2020, he learned about COVID-19 and started to think about alternatives to traditional contact tracing that could be both impactful and private/secure by design. After reading a post published by Tina White, he reached out to her and co-founded the Covid Watch non-profit group. In February of 2020, he was the key technical contributor to the Covid Watch white paper, which was the first in the world to propose privacy-preserving decentralized contact notification (a system like GAEN). James has also designed other related protocols, including for private-by-design beacons capable of working either in conjunction with the GAEN API, or independently of it.
James is also progressing towards a dissertation on pandemic related research with guidance from Joanna Masel, Head of Science at WeHealth, with chapters spanning protocol design, epidemiological modeling, Bluetooth distance-attenuation data analysis, and economic quantification of the benefits of NPIs with a particular emphasis on contact tracing and quarantine.