Almost three years later, the COVID-19 map—which evolved to become the flagship product of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center (CRC)—continues to be a pre-eminent source of information for pandemic data. The CRC maps cases, deaths, vaccinations and other key trends, such as disparities in the rate of disease spread and health outcomes as related to factors such as race, income, and access to private health insurance.The Coronavirus Resource Center – an effort supported by the Applied Physics Laboratory, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Sheridan Libraries, the Whiting School and other Johns Hopkins institutions – has recorded 1.2 billion page views since 2020, with two-thirds of viewers visiting the Global Map. This year the CRC, continually supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, has continued to garner an average of 6 million page views a month. In the summer of 2020 Gardner led a that found that residents in all 25 of the U.S. counties hardest hit by COVID-19 began to limit their public movements before states implemented stay-at-home orders, helping slow the spread of the virus. It was a finding that strongly supported the value of publicly available data in informing individual level decision-making for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. This knowledge not only helped inform guidelines implemented by local and state governments, but also demonstrated each U.S. resident’s power to help slow the spread of the virus.
The CRC’s tracking efforts also revealed another alarming truth: the lack of data reporting standards across the U.S. that resulted in disjointed reporting by individual states. To address this, the Johns Hopkins Pandemic Data Initiative was launched in 2021 to spotlight systemic deficiencies, examine how those challenges hinder COVID-19 responses, and to explore ways to improve the system.In addition to providing the data to the world, Gardner and her team are avid users of the data. She has projects sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and NASA to develop various data driven mathematical models to help improve our understanding of COVID-19 transmission and risks. In the future, Gardner plans to apply lessons learned from the COVID-19 dashboard to address other issues, including climate change. “These are human-centric problems with deep rooted inequities, and often are highly politicized. Central to many of these problems is the harm posed by misinformation, arguably one of the most significant threats facing societies today.” she said. “Addressing these problems demands data-driven solutions and effective science communication. It requires investment and innovation in interdisciplinary sciences, and strong partnerships between researchers and practitioners. I am excited to have the opportunity to work on these problems, with my colleagues and students, to try and make the world a better place.” The Lasker Foundation called Gardner’ work “visionary.” “Through her visionary work, Gardner conceived and launched a trailblazing enterprise that has enabled the world to watch, for the first time, a pandemic’s trajectory as it unfolds, and she has bound future health crises to this benchmark,” the Lasker Foundation cited. “She has forged a new expectation for readily accessible information that is timely, detailed, and accurate—and that allows members of society to map their behavior to real health data rather than relying entirely upon the idiosyncrasies of pundits and political leaders.” Prior to joining Johns Hopkins in 2019, Gardner was a senior lecturer in civil engineering at the University of New South Wales Sydney, in Australia. She received her BSArchE in architectural engineering, her MSE in civil engineering, and her PhD in transportation engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.