Supporting Files for "Case Study: Monsters, Microbiology and Mathematics: the epidemiology of a zombie apocalypse"

Contained here are files to support the submission of the article "CASE STUDY: Monsters, Microbiology and Mathematics: the epidemiology of a zombie apocalypse" currently under review at the Journal of Biological Education.


Simulations were generated using SimZombie, an agent-based model of monster outbreaks based on the SIR epidemiology system.  Source code is available at


Simulations are provided as animated GIF files, which will display in any browser, and can be embedded in PowerPoint presentations if required.  In all scenarios, white smilies represent dead bodies and yellow smilies represent uninfected individuals, while zombies, vampires and werewolves all have their own icons.


zombies.gif - A 'standard' zombie outbreak.  Note how even though the zombies are easy to kill, because the infection rate is high, the infection still spreads consistently outwards.  At the end of the simulation, there are a large number of zombies and only few dead bodies.


vampires.gif - A 'standard' vampire outbreak.  Vampires are 'fussier' than zombies, as they are aware of depleting their food source.  As such, the infection rate is much lower - meaning the kill rate is higher.  The simulation ends with many more dead bodies and much fewer vampires, but the outcome is equally as apocalyptic.


werewolves.gif - A 'standard' werewolf outbreak.  Only active during the full moon, a werewolf outbreak is much slower than the other two monsters present.  Able to move through the population undetected, however, and being particularly vicious monsters, means that when they are active, they have a large uninfected population around them and are successful in attacking or converting a number of individuals.


hiding.gif - In an attempt to protect themselves from the zombie apocalypse, a number of individuals have hidden themselves inside a large building.  Unfortunately, a small area of the wall has been damaged.  Once the zombies are able to get in, there is nowhere for the individuals to escape to, and because they are confined to a smaller space (i.e. their density is higher) the zombie disease spreads rapidly.


quarantine.gif - The only successful defense scenario shown here.  Due to the ratio of zombies to susceptibles, reversing the hiding scenario means the break in the wall becomes a highly defensible position, ensuring that as the zombies slip out in small numbers, they are able to be taken care of more easily.


Also included are two workmats, which we have used successfully in a variety of public engagement activities described in the paper.  The original workmat (designed for A0 size) is aimed at an older audience and covers some in-depth questions and requires some numerical knowledge, but develops parameters for direct input into SimZombie.  The revised workmat (designed for A1 size) is better suited for a younger audience, but is more of a general prompt to think about the overarching questions relating to epidemiology than thinking of parameters directly for SimZombie.


For more information regarding Monsters, Microbiology and Mathematics, including our public engagement activities, please see the paper these materials support ( ) and the Manchester Metropolitan University's Public Engagement website ( ).