NIMBioS Staff, Postdocs & Graduate Students Give Middle School Girls STEM Adventures!

Highlights from last week's Adventures in STEM Camp

Highlights from last week’s Adventures in STEM Camp

Sixteen middle school girls enjoyed a fun and exciting week of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) adventures last week during a day camp organized and hosted by NIMBioS and the engineering center at the University of Tennessee called CURENT.

Girls toured NIMBioS and designed and printed 3D models of real flowers. They explored the world of mathematical modeling through activities such as acting out a predator-prey-resource model in a game called “Oh Deer!” and exploring a similar model in Netlogo in the computer lab.

NIMBioS graduate fellows Ben Levy and Christine Dumoulin and NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow Caroline Farrior assisted throughout the week. The girls interviewed Farrior about her science career as well as interviewing NIMBioS postdoctoral fellows Sandy Kawano and Angie Peace, NIMBioS Associate Director for Education & Outreach Suzanne Lenhart, and NIMBioS Web Analyst Jane Comiskey.

A field trip to the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, TN was included followed by a tour of the University of Tennessee Veterinary School and hospital. CURENT provided many activities for the girls about electricity and renewable energy including building solar car and windmill models. The week concluded with the girls presenting to their families all the knowledge they acquired in the week, as well as the posters that they created of themselves in their dream STEM careers.

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in Diversity, Education/Outreach, Leadership, Middle School, postdocs, STEM, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on NIMBioS Staff, Postdocs & Graduate Students Give Middle School Girls STEM Adventures!

Congratulations to Paul Armsworth!

Paul Armsworth NIMBioS Associate Director for Postdoctoral Activities

Paul Armsworth
NIMBioS Associate Director for Postdoctoral Activities

Congratulations are in order for Paul Armsworth who has been named a James R. Cox Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Armsworth is NIMBioS Associate Director for Postdoctoral Activities.

An associate professor in ecology and evolutionary biology, Armsworth has been affiliated with NIMBioS as one its senior personnel since 2009 when he was hired as an NIMBioS-affiliated faculty member at UT.

The three-year Cox award will provide Armsworth with a stipend of $25,500 to support his research, which integrates mathematical modeling, statistical analyses, and field surveys. Cox recipients are chosen by a committee for their excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service.

Armsworth follows in the footsteps of another NIMBioS leader who earned the honor, namely NIMBioS Director Emeritus Louis Gross. Gross used the award to help fund the NIMBioS Songwriter-in-Residence program. Cox was interested in environmental issues and music.

Previously, Armsworth was a lecturer in Population and Community Ecology at the University of Sheffield. He received a B.A. in Mathematics from Oxford University in 1996, a Ph.D. in Mathematics from James Cook University, Australia, in 2000, and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University in 2003.

To read the UT press release announcing the award, visit http://tntoday.utk.edu/2015/07/08/university-honors-ecologist-paul-armsworth-cox-professorship/

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in awards, Leadership | Tagged , | Comments Off on Congratulations to Paul Armsworth!

Testing the Waters: Summer Research Good Preparation

Ginny, Diya, Talon, Mariel and Ryan - just a few of our creative SRE students.

Ginny, Diya, Talon, Mariel and Ryan – just a few of our creative SRE students

The NIMBioS Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates and Teachers (SRE) program helps prepare its participants for all the pressures and learning pleasures of graduate school, say a number of our SRE students.

NIMBioS interviewed a participant from each of this year’s five SRE projects, and several commented on how the program has solidified their desire to attend graduate school. While the participants experience eight intense weeks of research and modeling at NIMBioS, they also commended the program for all the fun they’re having alongside the learning.

Mariel Bedell

Mariel Bedell

Mariel Bedell, a pre-med major at Carnegie Mellon University, is a member of the SRE team modeling the distribution of fluid pressures in the kidney. Bedell said the SRE research has truly extended her learning well beyond the classroom. “I realized that research is very influential and inspiring to a student of any level. It is a great learning experience, far different and more encompassing than that of taking a class,” she said.

Talon Johnson

Talon Johnson

For Talon Johnson, a math major at Morehouse College, the SRE program has helped him focus on attending graduate school. Johnson is a member of the SRE team exploring the stressors in the host-pathogen interaction. He said the most valuable experience has been coding and programming in R, collaborating with others from different fields of study, and learning how to delve deep into research articles.

Parkman_sre2015_200x266

Virginia Parkman

As a dog lover, Virginia Parkman, a math major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was very excited to learn that she would be studying canine distemper and applying the research to helping a local animal shelter. “This research could potentially save hundreds of dogs’ lives. With our model, we could potentially show a shelter how to protect their dogs from getting distemper and from spreading the disease,” she said.

Diya Sashidhar

Diya Sashidhar

For Diya Sashidhar, a math major at North Carolina State University, one of the best parts of the SRE program has been collaborating with students from different fields to solve a common problem. “Sometimes, modeling can be frustrating. However, with group members come different ideas and perspectives, allowing us to progress and eventually overcome our problems,” she said. Sashidhar’s project is to develop mathematical models to understand the body’s immune response to tuberculosis.

Ryan Yan

Ryan Yan

Ryan Yan, a math major at the College of William and Mary and member of the SRE project studying invasive species movements through shipping routes, summed up the NIMBioS SRE nicely: “I think as a young researcher, there’s truly no better way to become immersed in your field than in a place like NIMBioS.”

To read the full profiles and learn more about NIMBioS SRE, visit http://www.nimbios.org/sre/sre_profiles2015.

 

 

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in Education/Outreach, SRE, undergraduates | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Testing the Waters: Summer Research Good Preparation

NIMBioS Evaluation Services Now Available

NIMBioS uses a systems-based model for evaluation. The CIPP approach considers the organization as a whole, assessing the quality and significance of outcomes while still examining the inputs and processes that lead to these outcomes.

NIMBioS uses a systems-based approach for evaluation, one that considers the organization as a whole, assessing the quality and significance of outcomes while also examining the inputs and processes.

NIMBioS is pleased to now offer its considerable experience and expertise in providing external evaluation services to the STEM research and education sector, with a particular emphasis on interdisciplinary programs. Under the guidance of Pamela Bishop (Ph.D., Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement), NIMBioS Evaluation Services provides independent, rigorous and transparent formative and summative evaluation services targeted to the unique goals of the program under evaluation.

Dr. Pamela Bishop NIMBioS Evaluation Manager

Dr. Pamela Bishop
NIMBioS Evaluation Manager

With expertise in evaluation theory, design and implementation, the NIMBioS evaluation team is capable of evaluating large-scale projects to optimize decision-making and to untangle the complexity of program dynamics in order to understand how and why the project works (or doesn’t work) for whom.

NIMBioS carries out extensive evaluations of the variety of activities it supports, which has led to peer-reviewed publications on the methods used at NIMBioS to foster interdisciplinary research and education. NIMBioS uses a systems-based approach to program evaluation of center-scale effectiveness, with particular emphasis on assessing the impacts of NIMBioS in developing cross-disciplinary collaborations and research. More than 150 systematic evaluations of NIMBioS activities and events have been conducted.

You can read more about NIMBioS Evaluation Services at http://www.nimbios.org/about/evaluation

NIMBioS also provides all of its evaluation reports online. Read our evaluation reports from all NIMBioS activities, including Working Group meetings, Investigative Workshops, Tutorials, and Education and Outreach Events.

To explore your options for evaluation with NIMBioS Evaluation Services, contact Pamela Bishop at (865) 974-9348) or pambishop@nimbios.org

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in evaluation | Tagged | Comments Off on NIMBioS Evaluation Services Now Available

Fireflies, Farms, Food: NIMBioS SRE 2015 Underway!

The 2015 SRE's at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The 2015 SRE’s at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The 2015 NIMBioS Summer Research Experpience (SRE) for undergraduates and teachers just wrapped up its third whirlwind week. Already participants have gone on the annual pilgrimage to see the synchronous fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, eaten yummy food at welcome parties and barbecues, and taken part in tutorials on programming, mathematical modeling in life sciences, 3D printing and more. All have gotten off to a great start on their research projects. The eight week program is sure to go by too fast!

SRE's at the welcome party, for many of them their first night in Knoxville!

SRE’s at the welcome party, for many of them their first night in Knoxville.

The Invasive Species group meets with their mentors.

The Invasive Species group meets with their mentors.

The host-pathogen and tuberculosis SRE groups tour a local dairy farm to learn about how cattle are managed to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

The Host-Pathogen and Tuberculosis SRE groups tour a local dairy farm to learn about how cattle are managed to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in disease, Education/Outreach, research, REU/REV, SRE, Teachers, undergraduates | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Fireflies, Farms, Food: NIMBioS SRE 2015 Underway!

Productive Working Group Leads to Special Issue

MAP Working Group, Meeting 4. (L to R): Vitaly Ganusov, Maia Martcheva, Gesham Magombedze, Eiichi Momotani, Yrjö Gröhn , Shigetoshi Eda, Yoram Louzoun, Srindand Sreevatsan, Don Klinkenberg, Suzanne Lenhart, Ad Koets, Ynte Schukken.

MAP Working Group, Meeting 4. (L to R): Vitaly Ganusov, Maia Martcheva, Gesham Magombedze, Eiichi Momotani, Yrjö Gröhn, Shigetoshi Eda, Yoram Louzoun, Srindand Sreevatsan, Don Klinkenberg, Suzanne Lenhart, Ad Koets, Ynte Schukken

The Within-host Modeling of MAP Infection Working Group has had an extremely productive few years and its work has paid off in a dedicated special issue this month of the journal Veterinary Research. Ten of the twelve papers in the issue were produced by the Working Group.

The Working Group on MAP, which stands for Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, held its first meeting at NIMBioS in June 2012 and wrapped up after the fourth meeting in July last year. The group comprises 16 members from diverse fields, including mathematics, statistics, epidemiology, immunology, microbiology and optimal control and is co-organized by Ynte H. Schukken, Cornell Univ.; Ad Koets, Utrecht Univ.; Srinand Sreevatsan, Univ. of Minnesota; Maia Martcheva, Univ. of Florida; and Shigetoshi Eda, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The Working Group was established following a successful Investigative Workshop on the topic held in the summer of 2011. The chief objective of the Working Group was to develop a within-host MAP infection model, using observational data on infection patterns and within-host immune response data. Ultimately, the model aimed to provide an understanding of the progression of and mitigation strategies for Johne’s disease in ruminants, which is caused by intestinal infection of the bacterial pathogen MAP. JD causes reduction of milk production, weight loss, and premature culling of clinically affected animals. JD has been found in more than two-thirds of US dairy herds and causes the US dairy industry an estimated annual loss of hundred millions of dollars.

The special issue of Veterinary Research published this month is a compilation of work that explores and connects MAP dynamics at multiple levels.

Congratulations to this hard-working and productive Group!

If you are interested in seeking support for your research and would like to propose a Working Group or Investigative Workshop, the next deadline for support is September 1. Full details on what categories of support NIMBioS provides as well as proposal information can be found at http://www.nimbios.org/research/

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in disease, publication, research, Wildlife, Working Groups | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Productive Working Group Leads to Special Issue

NIMBioS Welcomes New Researchers

(From left) Nels Johnson, Megan Rua, Quentin Johnson

(From left) Nels Johnson, Megan Rúa, Quentin Johnson

We’re excited to announce our new postdoctoral and sabbatical fellows who will bring their research to NIMBioS this summer and fall.

New postdoctoral fellows include:

Nels Johnson joins NIMBioS in June following a postdoctoral fellowship at Colorado State Univ. where he has been focused on the Great Plains Methane project investigating communities of methane consuming soil bacteria. At NIMBioS, Johnson will develop new, flexible community models for addressing the impact that diversity and community structure have on ecosystem function and for better understanding the biodiversity of communities across environmental gradients and traits.

Quentin Johnson joins NIMBioS in August after completing his Ph.D. in Life Science/Genome Science and Technology at the Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville. His project centers on developing a high-throughput mathematical and computational model to identify allostery and the mechanism by which the allosteric signal is initiated and propagated in the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor and retinoid X receptor complex, which are proteins involved in preventing growth of cancer cells.

Megan Rúa is currently an NSF postdoctoral research fellow in biology at the Univ. of Mississippi where she is conducting a 1200 seedling experiment. Starting in August, her research at NIMBioS will focus on using selective source analysis (SSA) to estimate selection due to interspecific interactions and other sources and will also involve employing meta-analysis in conjunction with SSA to examine these relationships across a broad array of hosts and their mycorrhiza.

New sabbatical fellows are as follows:

Charles Price, an assistant professor of plant biology at the Univ. of Western Australia, will work on a project to understand the physical drivers of allometric patterns in trees. Price begins his fellowship in June.

Richard Schugart, an assistant professor of mathematics at Western Kentucky Univ., begins his fellowship in August to investigate optimal treatment protocols for a bacterial infection of a wound using oxygen therapy.

And joining NIMBioS in February 2016 as a sabbatical fellow is Glenn Ledder, a professor of mathematics at the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, whose project involves dynamic energy budget modeling and multi-component systems.

The next deadline for applying for a postdoctoral fellowship and a sabbatical fellowship is September 1.

 

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in postdocs | Tagged | Comments Off on NIMBioS Welcomes New Researchers

Workshop to Support Research Collaboration Between Junior and Senior Women

Wiki_Women_Editors_Project_-_Opening_Meeting_6-1024x753

Yet another barrier facing women in academia is that senior women faculty are less likely to collaborate with junior women. A study in Current Biology found evidence for this in the field of psychology, a field getting very close to gender parity. NIMBioS’ Research Collaboration Workshop for Women in the Mathematical Biology, coming in June, will support the efforts of a group of women committed to help change this.

Eight senior women researchers in math and biology will lead four teams of  four to five women postdocs, junior faculty, and advanced graduate students on projects that are expected to continue after the workshop and lead to a joint publication.

Seventy-five researchers in mathematics and biology applied to the workshop, showing there is a great demand for opportunities like this one. Only 18 applicants were selected, the size limited to encourage the quality of the interactions among the participants.

Some of the collaborations will be international, with participants from Europe and Asia.

The research projects include:

The workshop structure, with leaders, projects and working groups planned in advance, is intended to be bi-directional, such that senior women will meet, mentor, and collaborate with the brightest young women in their field on a part of their research agenda of their choosing, and junior women (tenure track faculty, post-docs and advanced graduate students) will develop their network of colleagues and supporters and encounter important new research areas to work in, thereby improving their chances for successful research careers.

The format of this workshop was modeled after the highly successful WhAM! Research Collaboration Workshop for Women in Applied Mathematics held at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) in September 2013.

 

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in careers, Diversity, Education/Outreach, gender diversity, Leadership, postdocs, publication, research, Uncategorized, Workshop | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Workshop to Support Research Collaboration Between Junior and Senior Women

NIMBioS Undergrads – Where are They Now?

Just a few of the graduate institutions, companies, and scholarships our past REU and SRE students have mentioned so far.

Just a few of the graduate institutions, companies, and scholarships our past REU and SRE students have mentioned so far.

NicoleBender_penguins_croppedvert

Former SRE Nicole Bender conducts penguin consensus work in Antarctica as a part of her doctoral work at Stony Brook Univ.

Their lives once converged here for a summer research experience at NIMBioS, but now our undergraduate alumni study pipets at Stony Brook University, viral evolution at UCLA, and computational ecology at the University of Oregon, among many other experiences. NIMBioS has recently begun to reach out to the alumni of our undergraduate research experience programs, now called the Summer Research Experiences (SRE) program, to find out their post-college graduation plans and endeavors.

“I can say that the REU experience has greatly contributed to a successful application and start at the University of Oxford,” wrote 2012 REU alumna Annet Westhoek, who is currently pursuing her PhD in Systems Biology at the University of Oxford where she models the interactions between legumes and their nitrogen-fixing symbionts.

John Shamshoian, 2014 SRE alumnus, plans to start a PhD program in biostatistics at UCLA in the fall. “I’m proud to say NIMBioS’ SRE program helped make this possible and will ease the transition to grad school having done some research already.”

“Things are going well,” wrote Kiersten Utsey, 2013 REU alumna, now working on her PhD in Math Biology at the University of Utah, “and my experience at NIMBioS definitely helped prepare me for graduate school!”

With six cohorts of REU/REV/SRE students since 2009 and many long since graduated, catching up with all 115 of them is a considerable challenge. If you are one of our alumni reading this, we want to hear from you! Let us know what you’re up to — whether you are in graduate school, working, backpacking Central America or writing your memoir, please drop a note to Kelly (Moran) Sturner at kmoran@nimbios.org.

We’re fortunate to have worked with such great students over the years, and it’s always extra nice to feel the appreciation back. Many students sent kind words when they reported their activities to us. Brittany Boribong, 2014 REU alumna, on her fall plans to start a PhD program at Virginia Tech in Genetics, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, wrote, “I couldn’t have done this without … everyone at NIMBioS.”

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in careers, Education/Outreach, graduates, research, REU/REV, SRE, undergraduates | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on NIMBioS Undergrads – Where are They Now?

Fractals and Fruit Flies Win Awards at Regional Science Fair

A cardboard cutout advertising the Southern Appalachian Science & Engineering Fair

A cardboard cutout advertising the Southern Appalachian Science & Engineering Fair

NIMBioS awarded its annual prizes for Research at the Interface of Mathematics and Biology last month to budding young scientists and mathematicians at the Southern Appalachian Science & Engineering Fair. The junior prize went to Piper Halcrow and Olivia Ricche from St. Mary’s Catholic School, the team responsible for “Mutant vs. Wild: Who Will Survive.” Their project was a careful analysis of mutant and wild fruit fly responses to different concentrations of organic compounds. Hunter Vallejos of Oak Ridge High School took home the senior prize for his project: “1/f Power Spectra and Fractals in the Heart” in which he investigated different kinds of noise in electrocardiogram signal data.

 

NIMBioS Graduate Assistant Jason Bintz and Education & Outreach Intern Virginia Parkman assisted with the judging. Awardees received certificates and cash prizes.

"Mutant vs. Wild: Who Will Survive" received the Junior NIMBioS Prize at the science fair.

“Mutant vs. Wild: Who Will Survive” received the Junior NIMBioS Prize at the science fair.

NIMBioS also assisted in judging two other special awards: the Association of Women in Science (AWIS) award and the Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society award. The AWIS award went to Pittman Center Elementary student Alexis Valentine for her project, “Bat Chat (Using Echolocation to Determine White Nose Syndrome Effects).” The Mu Alpha Theta award also went to Hunter Vallejos.

 

Did you like this? Share it:
Posted in awards, Education/Outreach, Elementary School, GRAs, high school, Middle School, research, STEM, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Fractals and Fruit Flies Win Awards at Regional Science Fair