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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.

NIMBioS Interdisciplinary Seminars will resume in the fall semester.

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

Date Speaker
Topic
  August 2015
Aug 25
Rm. 105 Claxton
Anthony Mezzacappa, Director, Joint Institute for Computational Sciences The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences: The Skinny
  September 2015
Sep 8 Nels Johnson, NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow Nonparametric Bayesian functional equivalence models for community data
Sep 22 Elizabeth Bradley*, Computer Science, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder TBA
Sep 28
3:30 pm Mon
Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke Univ. The laws of biodiversity — and what we do not understand about them
  October 2015
Oct 6 Chuck Price, Plant Biology, Univ. of Western Australia; NIMBioS Sabbatical Fellow Flow similarity, stochastic branching, and quarter power scaling in plants
Oct 13 Megan Rua (NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow, beginning summer 2015) TBA
Oct 20 Quentin Johnson, NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow beginning summer 2015 TBA
  November 2015
Nov 3 Steven Wise, Mathematics, Univ. of Tennessee TBA
Nov 10 Richard Schugart, Mathematics, Western Kentucky Univ.; NIMBioS Sabbatical Fellow TBA
  March 2016
Mar 8 Peter Chesson*, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Univ. of Arizona TBA
  January 2016
Jan 19 Chongle Pan, Computer Science and Mathematics Division, ORNL TBA
  April 2016
Apr 12 Michael Whitlock*, Zoology, Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver TBA
*NIMBioS Postdoctoral Fellows Invited Distinguished Visitor
**NIMBioS Special Seminar

Seminar Abstracts:


S. Pimm photo. Time/Date: 3:30 p.m., Monday, September 28
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke Univ.
Topic: The laws of biodiversity and what we do not understand about them
Abstract: The practice of conservation biodiversity starts with understanding which species and which places are priorities in preventing species decline and extinction. A minority are obvious and familiar: large bodied vertebrates, especially predators, are hunted or persecuted over their large geographical ranges. The large majority of threatened vertebrates have small geographical ranges leading them to be vulnerable to habitat destruction. Armed with where these species live, we can make strategic choices of which places are world priorities – the "biodiversity hotspots" – and downscale to tactical decisions on exactly where and how to protect them. There's an obvious problem. We are protecting biodiversity based on 0.1% of species. Taxonomists are not going to name, let alone map, the remaining 99.9% anytime soon. This motivates a search for general patterns of biodiversity – I call them "laws" – and an understanding of them that might help address whether they are likely to apply equally to known and unknown taxa. Wallace promulgated the most famous law of biodiversity: "Every species has come into existence coincident both in space and time with a pre-existing closely allied species." A simple enough pair of observations, yet ones with profound implications. There are others. The sizes of species ranges have consistent log-normal distributions. Widespread species are locally common, whereas local species are generally rare. Species densities vary greatly from place to place. Species with small geographical ranges are geographically concentrated and generally not in the places where the largest numbers of species live. There is the familiar species-area relationship and there is a distinctive pattern of species loss where habitats are destroyed. To be credible, the theories to explain these laws need to be mechanistically credible, testable against new data, and make hitherto unexpected predictions. Most theories fail these criteria, suggesting considerable effort is needed to understand biodiversity patterns. Click here for more information. Seminar flyer (pdf).

N. Johnson photo. Time/Date: 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, September 8
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Nels Johnson, NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow
Topic: Nonparametric Bayesian functional equivalence models for community data
Abstract: Ecological community data frequently contain large numbers of sparsely observed species. Reducing the number of species used in a community analysis can make model estimation and interpretation much easier. However, choosing this reduction is non-trivial. Important species can be left out of the analysis or combined inappropriately. We introduce a nonparametric Bayesian model to simultaneously learn about the groups of functionally equivalent species and the corresponding parameter values of each group for describing an ecosystem function. We motivate this work using a community of methane-consuming soil-bacteria from across the North American Great Plains. Click here for more information. Seminar flyer (pdf).

C. Price photo. Time/Date: 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 6
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Charles "Chuck" Price, Biology, Univ. of Western Australia
Topic: Flow similarity, stochastic branching, and quarter power scaling in plants
Abstract: The origin of allometric scaling patterns that are multiples of one-fourth has long fascinated biologists. Several models have been advanced to explain the underlying principles of such patterns, but questions regarding the disconnect between model structures and empirical data have limited their widespread acceptance. I show that quarter power scaling can be derived using only the preservation of volume flow rate and velocity as constraints. Applying the model to the specific case of land plants, I show that incorporating biomechanical principles and allowing different parts of plant branching networks to be optimized to serve different functions predicts non-linearity in allometric relationships, and helps explain why interspecific scaling exponents covary along a fractal continuum. Data from numerous sources at the level of plant shoots, stems, petioles, and leaves show strong agreement with model predictions. This novel theoretical framework provides an easily testable alternative to current general models of plant metabolic allometry. Click here for more information. Seminar flyer (pdf)

A. Mezzacappa photo. Time/Date: 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, August 25
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 105, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Anthony Mezzacappa, Director, Joint Institute for Computational Sciences
Topic: The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences: The Skinny
Abstract: The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS) was first established in 1991 and has been through several critical phases in the more than two decades since, including the award by DOE to UT-Battelle of the management of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the award by NSF to the University of Tennessee (UT) of the Kraken supercomputer, which was the nation's first academic petaflop supercomputer, and the award by NSF to the University of Illinois of the eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), of which JICS is a leading partner, to support NSF's national cyberinfrastructure. As a result, JICS and, within it, the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS), one of NSF's five supercomputing centers, took on a national focus, supporting thousands of users and projects across all scientific and engineering domains. Within the past two years, we have focused on bringing JICS expertise and resources, and its overall unparalleled NSF track record of user support, to campus. During this time, we have established a significant number of new, single- and multiple-investigator collaborations with campus faculty. Our desire is to continue this growth and, most important, bring the best of what the University has to offer in computing to its faculty and the research frontiers they wish to advance. I will give an overview of JICS, focusing on its unique aspects, particularly as they pertain to their potential utility to campus faculty and the opportunities they may afford faculty. I will discuss some of our ongoing collaborations with campus, and discuss ways we can, and hope to, engage other faculty in the future. Click here for more information. Seminar flyer (pdf).