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NIMBioS Tuesday Seminar Series

Species montage. In conjunction with the interdisciplinary activities of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), a seminar series on topics in mathematical biology will be hosted at NIMBioS every other Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted) in Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd. Seminar speakers will focus on their research initiatives at the interface of mathematics and many areas of the life sciences. Light refreshments will be served in Room 206 beginning 30 minutes before each talk. Faculty and students from across the UT community are welcome to join us. The schedule will be supplemented as additional speakers are added.

Video Archive of NIMBioS Seminars
Archived Seminar Calendars:   2017   2016   2015   2014   2013   2012   2011   2010   2009

Date Speaker Topic
  September 2017
Sep 26 Elizabeth Borer*, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, Univ. of Minnesota Tools to predict future Earth: Using theory and experiments to guide expectations for the future of the world's grasslands
  October 2017
Oct 10 Ruian Ke, Mathematics, North Carolina State Univ. Superinfection and cure of infected cells as novel mechanisms for hepatitis C virus expansion and persistence
Oct 17 Scott J. Emrich, Bioinformatics, Univ. of Notre Dame Integrating diverse data for improved computational genomics
Oct 24 Charlotte Chang, NIMBioS Postdoctoral Fellow The social determinants and ecological consequences of indiscriminate hunting in tropical Asia
  November 2017
Nov 14 Scott Nuismer, Biological Sciences, Univ. of Idaho Evaluating the promise of a transmissible vaccine
Nov 21 Harshana Rajakaruna, Postdoctoral Fellow, Microbiology, Univ. of Tennessee Effect of yearly temperature cycles on species richness and population fitness: Insights from marine copepods
Nov 28 Christopher Strickland, Mathematics, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville Modeling invasion at multiple scales

*NIMBioS Postdoctoral Fellows Invited Distinguished Visitor

Seminar Abstracts


C. Strickland photo. Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 28
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Christopher Strickland, Mathematics, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville
Topic: Modeling invasion at multiple scales
Abstract: Biological invasions often have outsized consequences for the invaded system and represent an interesting challenge to model mathematically. Landscape heterogeneity, non-local and time-dependent spreading mechanisms, coarse data, and the presence of long-distance transportation connections are but a few of the complications that can greatly affect our understanding of invasive spread. In this talk, I will look at dispersal from a multi-scale perspective in an attempt to address some of these challenges, and briefly discuss a few of my other current research projects. Considering the problem of long-distance dispersal, I will discuss a method for modeling invasive spread over large, heterogeneous landscapes by interpreting the quantity of interest as species occurrence probability rather than population size. Adding to this is a method for considering the effects of a disease-vector transportation network which can unwittingly transport a biological invader to distant sites. I will then shift focus to the initial stages of an invasion and concentrate on the local- and meso-scale by considering the intentional release of a parasitoid wasp biocontrol agent. Results connect the model to data using a Bayesian framework and indicate that fluid physics above the landscape likely play a critical role in the kilometer scale dispersal process. Finally, I will describe some of my current work involving fluid-based organism movement, network structure, and epidemic dynamics in the context of opioid addiction. Click here for more information. Seminar flyer (pdf).

H. Rajakaruna photo. Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 21
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Harshana Rajakaruna, Postdoctoral Fellow, Microbiology, Univ. of Tennessee
Topic: Effect of yearly temperature cycles on species richness and population fitness: Insights from marine copepods
Abstract: Species richness (α-diversity) and population fitness (intrinsic growth rate) of fast-maturing marine copepods are generally explained as functions of ambient temperature. However, such explanations commonly take into account the long-term average sea temperatures. Yet, sea temperatures fluctuate yearly and quite dramatically in some marine regions. We will illustrate how large amplitudes of yearly temperature cycles could reduce both species richness and population fitness of marine copepods resulting from reduced generation times. These reductions can be explained by Jensen's inequality, which relates the value of a concave function of an integral to the integral of the concave function. Scientific cruise survey data supports our theoretical model predictions. The study leads to the question whether the gradient of the amplitudes of temperature cycles, between habitats with similar yearly mean temperatures, ecological and environmental conditions, influences a class of fast-maturating copepods to colonize new habitats and increase species richness. The study also gives insights into range-expansion and diversity of species in the presence of a general rise in sea temperatures with changes in the degree of their fluctuations. Click here for more information. Seminar flyer (pdf).

S. Nuismer photo. Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 14
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Scott Nuismer, Biological Sciences, Univ. of Idaho
Topic: Evaluating the promise of a transmissible vaccine
Abstract: The development of viral vaccines has had remarkable and long-lasting impacts on human health and on the health of domestic and wild animal populations. Despite these impressive successes, many infectious diseases cannot yet be efficiently controlled or eradicated through vaccination programs because it is impossible to vaccinate a sufficient proportion of the population to guarantee herd immunity. Recent advances in molecular biology suggest that the centuries-old method of individual-based vaccine delivery could be on the cusp of a major revolution. Specifically, genetic engineering brings to life the possibility of a transmissible vaccine. In this talk, I will present the results of mathematical models quantifying the extent to which vaccine transmission can facilitate the eradication of endemic infectious diseases and reduce the magnitude of epidemics. In addition to quantifying these positive properties of vaccine transmission, mathematical results will illustrate key challenges imposed by vaccine evolution and identify potential solutions. Click here for more information. Seminar flyer (pdf).

C. Chang photo. Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 24
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Charlotte Chang, NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow
Topic: The social determinants and ecological consequences of indiscriminate hunting in tropical Asia
Abstract: Overexploitation is one of the most prominent threats facing tropical vertebrates. Management has typically adopted single-species models and has not prevented population collapse. One major complicating factor is that hunting exploits multiple prey species simultaneously, particularly in open-access systems. Using Southwest China as a case study, I found that hunting was largely sustained by resilient ungulate and passerine stocks. As hunting effort has persisted, more sensitive species have been extirpated. Recreation was the main motivator of hunting, which may be more widespread in the developing world than previously appreciated. Monitoring trends in hunting effort largely depends on human subjects interviews, and indirect surveys are powerful tools requiring specialized estimators. I developed an open-source software package, applying it to determine what factors are associated with illegal hunting in Southwest China. I explored what rules may structure hunter prey choice decisions, in order to understand how salient traits (e.g. body mass) could simplify otherwise complex indiscriminate harvesting systems. I then incorporated these findings into a theoretical model to explore potential thresholds in body mass under open-access hunting. Click here for more information. Seminar flyer (pdf).

S. Emrich  photo. Time/Date: 3:30 Tuesday, October 17
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Scott J. Emrich , Bioinformatics, Univ. of Notre Dame
Topic: Integrating diverse data for improved computational genomics
Abstract: Genomics-driven analysis of many important species, which we have called "non-models", remains challenging. My group is funded by the NIH to computationally leverage and enhance newer higher-throughput sequencing with domain expert-provided metadata including biological phenotypes (e.g., drug resistance in malaria), protein folding experiments, and karyotype data from mosquitoes. For this talk I will focus on updates to our 2016 ACM BCB paper, which has been recently published in IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (TCBB). Previous computational approaches for imputation of missing genotype data have relied on a linear order of markers and a genotype panel, both of which are not common in non-models. We address this limitation with our ADDIT (Accurate Data-Driven Imputation Technique) approach, which is composed of two data integration-focused algorithms: a non-model variant that employs statistical inference, and a model organism variant that better leverages reference data using a supervised learning-based approach. I will show that ADDIT is more accurate, faster and requires less memory than state-of-the art methods using model (human) and non-model (maize, apple, grape) datasets. I will conclude with emerging "–omics" results from a few other current projects, most involving either a mosquito vector or the disease they transmit. The methods we are developing combine traditional sequence-based analysis with existing and new models, mostly network-based, through collaborations to best integrate diverse data types. I will discuss some early successes and challenges, with the latter hopefully a start for new discussions in Knoxville come January. Click here for more information. Seminar flyer (pdf).

R. Ke photo. Time/Date: 3:30 Tuesday, October 10
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Ruian Ke, Mathematics, North Carolina State Univ.
Topic: Superinfection and cure of infected cells as novel mechanisms for hepatitis C virus expansion and persistence
Abstract: RNA viruses exist as a genetically diverse quasispecies with extraordinary ability to adapt to abrupt changes in the host environment. However, the mechanisms that contribute to their rapid adaptation and persistence are not well studied. Here we probe hepatitis C virus persistence by analyzing clinical samples taken from subjects who were treated with a novel protease inhibitor. Frequent longitudinal viral load determinations and single genome sequence analyses revealed rapid antiviral resistance development, and surprisingly, dynamic turnover of dominant drug resistant mutant populations long after treatment cessation. We fitted mathematical models to the data, and the results provided strong support for the critical roles that superinfection and cure of infected cells play in facilitating the rapid turnover and persistence of viral populations. Thus, we propose a new theoretical framework integrating viral and molecular mechanisms to explain rapid viral evolution, resistance and persistence despite antiviral treatment and host immune responses. Click here for more information.

E. Borer photo. Time/Date: 3:30 Tuesday, September 26
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Elizabeth Borer, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, Univ. of Minnesota; NIMBioS Postdoctoral Fellows Invited Distinguished Visitor
Topic: Tools to predict future Earth: Using theory and experiments to guide expectations for the future of the world's grasslands
Abstract: Among the greatest current challenges for ecology is understanding the links between biodiversity and ecosystem function, on one hand, and global-scale changes to nutrient cycles and species distributions, on the other. While these grand challenges are global in scale, such ecological experiments and sampling must be done at local scales. Distributed experimental networks, in which scientists around the world collaboratively replicate an experiment under many environmental conditions, are one tool with the potential to bridge the gap between site-scale experiments and global-scale predictions. Hypotheses generated from mathematical theory can serve as a logical guide in analyzing and interpreting data from sites around the world, providing insights into widespread responses and those that are context-dependent. By using theory to guide expectations, the Nutrient Network, a decade-long experiment being replicated at >100 sites around the world, has demonstrated that species diversity promotes ecosystem productivity and stability, and that nutrient supply and herbivory control diversity via changes in species composition, including invasions of non-native species and extinction of native species. I will discuss my experience of implementing a distributed network of identically-replicated grassland experiments motivated to build on ecological theory and will present some of the Nutrient Network's recent insights into the controls of diversity and function in the world's grassland ecosystems. Click here for more information. Seminar flyer (pdf).


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NSF logo. NIMBioS is sponsored by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
 
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