Undergraduate Education

2023 Battle to Save Lives, a Global and Public Health Case Competition

The eighth annual Battle to Save Lives case competition was presented by students in Dr. Eric G. Bing’s Pandemics! The Science of Disease Spread, Prevention, and Control course.

Three teams of students from SMU professor Eric G. Bing’s Pandemics course presented their strategies to enhance user safety on the Katy Trail for the eighth Battle to Save Lives case competition. Working alongside Friends of the Katy Trail, the teams of students gathered and analyzed data on behaviors that could lead to accidents involving bikers, pedestrians, and vehicles. The teams then crafted their recommendations to enhance trail-user safety. 

The event was introduced by Bree Redwine, Friends of the Katy Trail.  The audience, including Friends of the Katy Trail members, community members, and friends and families of the students, eagerly engaged with the presentations and evaluated the effectiveness of each team’s recommendations.  The audience also helped the judges select the winning team at the end of the competition.   

The judges were: 

  • Mr. Brian Callahan, President & COO, ISN 
  • Mr. Johnathan McKee, President & CEO, Stonewall Protection Group, LLC 
  • Dr. Monnie McGee, Associate Professor, SMU Department of Statistics 
  • Mr. Amit Sharma, Senior Program Manager, SMS 
Team Blue: A Walk in the Park? Not So Fast  

Group presenting slides to judges, audience in classroom

Team Blue tackled the critical concerns surrounding the intersections at Knox Avenue and Harvard Street. They focused on the potential dangers of pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions, with a specific emphasis on the issue of drivers not stopping when directed to do so.  The blue team’s thorough analysis drew awareness on the pressing issues at these intersections, highlighting the need for proactive measures to enhance pedestrian safety and mitigate the risk of accidents. The blue team consisted of James Barta, Sarah Beqaj, Natalie Giresi, Austin Guerrero, Bryce Moreau, Kendra Kaericher, Sully Shave, Marissa Strauss. 

Red Team: Blazing New Trails

Group presenting slides to judges, audience in classroom

Team Red’s focus centered around intersections and pedestrians, specifically examining the behavior of cars coming from either Dallas or Highland Park. The red team’s comprehensive analysis provided valuable insights into the behavior of both vehicles and pedestrians at the intersections, highlighting key factors that influence safety and suggesting potential areas for improvement. The red team included Besiana Tela, Dalton Perdue, Gabi Silver, Muaz Wahid, Payton Doiron, Viktoriya Kuchina, and Zairyn Hemsley.  

Green Team: Crossing Paths: Hazards in Linear Green Spaces

Group presenting slides to judges, audience in classroom

Team Green’s primary objective was to address the growing safety concerns associated with the increasing number of trail users. They focused on two crucial aspects: attentional/situational awareness and crosswalk/cross-traffic safety, with an aim to determine the frequency of behaviors that contribute to accidents and injuries among trail users. The green team’s comprehensive analysis shed light on the significance of attentional and situational awareness, as well as the potential risks associated with certain behaviors at the trail intersections. This team consisted of Khari-Alexis Bing, Angel Jones, Alana Karro, Kaitlyn Kotake, Kort Kuenstler, Ben Kuiper, Emily O’Connor & Rafay Wahid.  

Ultimately, after careful consideration and evaluation, Team Red was announced as the winning team. Their innovative strategies and dedication to promoting trail-user safety had earned them recognition and praise from the judges and the audience alike. 

The success of the eighth Battle to Save Lives case competition further cemented its position as a platform for students to showcase their skills, ideas, and dedication to public health. Following the competition, students James Barta and Muaz Wahid presented to the Friends of the Katy Trail board members, showcasing the work of the students in the Pandemics! The Science of Disease Spread, Prevention, and Control course. 

The Battle to Save Lives case competition not only highlighted the students’ exceptional abilities but also emphasized the importance of collaboration between academia and the community in tackling public health challenges. By addressing the safety concerns on the Katy Trail, these students demonstrated their commitment to creating a safer and more inclusive environment for all trail users. It served as a reminder that through education, innovation, and community engagement, we can work together to make a tangible difference in improving public health and saving lives. 

Interested in learning more about our work? Visit our website, email us at and engage with us on Twitter. 

Written by Kate Douglass, Center for Global Health Impact Intern 

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