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NIMBioS Tuesday Seminar Series - Spring 2015

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

Date Speaker
  January 2015
Jan 27 Suzanne O'Regan, NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow Video icon. Detecting critical transitions in infectious disease dynamics
  February 2015
Feb 10 Michael Lynch*, Biology, Indiana Univ., Bloomington Mutation, drift and the origin of subcellular features
Feb 24 Caroline Farrior, NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow TBA
**Feb 25
9 a.m.
Julio Ramirez, Division of Infectious Diseases, Univ. of Louisville Pneumonia: Clinical & translational research at the University of Louisville
  March 2015
Mar 10 Laurent Excoffier*, Population Genetics CMPG Lab, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Univ. of Bern TBA
Mar 24 Xiaopeng Zhao, Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville TBA
  April 2016
Apr 12 Michael Whitlock*, Zoology, Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver TBA
*NIMBioS Postdoctoral Fellows Invited Distinguished Visitor
**NIMBioS Special Seminar

NIMBioS Seminar Abstracts:

M. Lynch photo. Time/Date: 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, February 10
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Michael Lynch, Biology, Indiana Univ., Bloomington; NIMBioS Postdoctoral Fellows Invited Distinguished Visitor
Topic: Mutation, Drift and the Origin of Subcellular Features
Abstract: Understanding the mechanisms of evolution and the degree to which phylogenetic generalities exist requires information on the rate at which mutations arise and their effects at the molecular and phenotypic levels. Although procuring such data has been technically challenging, high-throughput genomic sequencing is rapidly expanding our knowledge in this area. Most notably, information on spontaneous mutations, now available in a wide variety of organisms, implies an inverse scaling of the mutation rate (per nucleotide site) with the effective population size of a lineage. The argument will be made that this pattern naturally arises as natural selection pushes the mutation rate down to a lower limit set by the power of random genetic drift rather than by intrinsic molecular limitations on repair mechanisms. This drift-barrier hypothesis has general implications for all aspects of evolution, including the performance of enzymes and the stability of proteins. The fundamental assumption is that as molecular adaptations become more and more refined, the room for subsequent improvement becomes diminishingly small. If this hypothesis is correct, the population-genetic environment imposes a fundamental constraint on the level of perfection that can be achieved by any molecular adaptation, and indeed all adaptations. Additional examples consistent with this hypothesis will be drawn from recent observations on the transcription error rate and on the evolution of the oligomeric states of proteins. Click here for more information. Seminar flyer (pdf).

S. O'Regan photo. Time/Date: 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 27
Location: Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Suzanne O'Regan, NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow
Topic: Detecting critical transitions in infectious disease dynamics
Abstract: Predicting abrupt shifts in state ("critical transitions") of complex systems is a key research topic in a variety of scientific domains. Small smooth changes in underlying drivers leading to a sudden change in system behavior, mathematically described as a bifurcation, is a mechanism for critical transitions of considerable interest. Bifurcations may be detectable because prior to reaching the dynamical threshold, the system may exhibit "critical slowing down." Statistical signatures of critical slowing down have been detected from temporal and spatial data in biological systems ranging from the global climate system, ecosystems, experimental microcosms and physiological systems. Anticipating infectious disease emergence and documenting progress in disease elimination are important applications for the theory of critical transitions. A key problem is the development of theory relating the dynamical processes of transmission to observable phenomena. In this talk, I consider compartmental epidemiological SIS and SIR models that are slowly forced through a critical transition. I develop expressions for the behavior of several candidate indicators during the approach to emergence or elimination. I show that moving-window estimates of the candidate indicators may be used for anticipating critical transitions in infectious disease systems. Although leading indicators of elimination were highly predictive, I found the approach to emergence to be much more difficult to detect. It is hoped that these results, which show the anticipation of critical transitions in infectious disease systems to be theoretically possible, may be used to guide the construction of online algorithms for processing surveillance data. Click here for more information. Seminar flyer (pdf).
Video icon.Watch seminar online.

NIMBioS Seminar Archive