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NIMBioS FAQ

Conference photo. "To date, advances in the field of mathematical biology have been made by a handful of individuals and programs that have trained the vast majority of active researchers at this interface. NIMBioS offers unprecedented opportunities for mathematical and computational scientists to build new cooperative endeavors with biologists and to find patterns and evaluate hypotheses for how the biological world came to be and how it might change in the future."

Louis J. Gross, Ph.D.
NIMBioS Founding Director
Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Director of the Institute for Environmental Modeling

About NIMBioS
The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis is a science synthesis center that explores the interface between math and biology. NIMBioS brings together the talents of researchers from around the world to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries and take an integrative approach to address the vast array of challenging questions in this 21st century of biology.

How do you say NIMBioS?
NIMBioS is pronounced NIM-bus.

What is the mission of NIMBioS?
The mission of NIMBioS is two fold: (1) to foster the maturation of cross-disciplinary approaches at the interface of mathematics and biology, and (2) to foster the development of a cadre of researchers who are capable of conceiving and engaging in creative and collaborative connections across disciplines to effectively use appropriate and necessary mathematics to address fundamental and applied biological questions. Click here to read more about the NIMBioS mission.

What makes NIMBioS unique?
Collaboration
NIMBioS supports collaborative intensive research activities focusing on research questions that require a mixture of disciplinary backgrounds to address. The nature of the questions addressed at NIMBioS spans all of biology, impacting both basic and applied science.
Community-driven
The overarching strategy for NIMBioS research and education activities is that they are community-driven. The method used to prioritize NIMBioS support relies on requests from the community, rather than the Institute setting educational and research priorities and agendas.

What research activities does NIMBioS support?
NIMBioS supports a range of scientific activities across the spectrum of synthetic research in mathematics and biology. Working groups are chosen to focus on major well-defined scientific questions at the interface between biology and mathematics that require insights from diverse researchers. Investigative workshops focus on a broader topic or a set of related topics, summarizing/synthesizing the state of the art and identifying future directions. Post-doctoral fellows propose synthetic projects that require an amalgam of mathematical and biological approaches. Sabbatical fellows will come to NIMBioS for a few months to a year and may include a mixture NIMBioS activities as part of their in-residence experience. Short-term visitors are supported to work on-site at NIMBioS for periods of one week to one month to foster synthetic research at the interface between mathematics and biology.

Aside from research, what educational and outreach activities does NIMBioS support?
Education activities at NIMBioS encompass the entire range from elementary education through postdoctoral mentoring. NIMBioS provides support and training for resident and visiting researchers, and offers varying levels of tutorial workshops designed to expand the mathematical and computational capabilities of biological science researchers as well as enhance the biological intuition of those with primarily mathematical or computational backgrounds. Outreach activities are intended in general to enhance the appreciation among disparate audiences that mathematics is intimately connected to many fascinating questions in modern biology.

When was NIMBioS established?
September 2008

How is NIMBioS funded?
NIMBioS is funded through Cooperative Agreement #DBI-1300426 between the National Science Foundation and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Who are NIMBioS’ partners?
Click here for a listing of NIMBioS' government and UT partners.

What is the significance of the logo?
The NIMBioS logo is a logarithmic spiral similar in shape to a Nautilus shell, for which the distance between successive whorls increases in a geometric progression, maintaining an unchanging self-congruent whorl shape as the size of its spiral revolutions increases. The spiral is a common organizational theme in nature, seen, for example, in the coiled shells of molluscs, the structure of DNA, the cochlea of the inner ear, the arms of hurricanes and spiral galaxies, and the arrangement of seeds on a flower head. Many hypotheses have been proposed for the ubiquity of such spiral arrangements, such as leaf spacing around a plant stem being an arrangement which intersects sunlight most efficiently. The rates of expansion of spirals in the natural world tend to exhibit harmonic proportion and progression. Successive spiral revolutions are noted as following the Golden Ratio (Phi) and the Fibonacci Series. In the Fibonacci Series, beginning with 0 and 1, each subsequent number is the sum of the 2 previous numbers. As the sequence progresses, the ratio of each number to its preceding number approaches Phi (1.6180...). The unique mathematical properties of logarithmic spirals and their significance in nature make this logo fitting for a science synthesis center that explores the interface between mathematics and biology.
Click here for NIMBioS logo image files.

How do I acknowledge NIMBioS in a publication or presentation? Thank you for asking! The results produced from NIMBioS research activities are important in measuring our success. Click here for an online form to report publications and/or other products that have resulted from your NIMBioS activities. Click here for information about how to acknowledge NIMBioS.