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NIMBioS Investigative Workshop

Algebraic Mathematical Biology

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Topic: Discrete and algebraic mathematical biology: research and education

Meeting dates: July 25-27, 2016.

Location: NIMBioS at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Raina Robeva, Mathematics, Randolph-Macon College, VA
Matthew Macauley, Mathematical Sciences, Clemson Univ., SC
John Jungck, Biological Sciences, Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Univ. of Delaware

Objectives: Over the past fifteen years, modern biology has been transformed by new mathematical methods that have complemented and driven biological discoveries. Problems from signaling, gene regulation, genomics, RNA folding, infectious disease dynamics, drug resistance modeling, phylogenetics, neuroscience, and ecological networks such as food webs, have increasingly benefited from the application of discrete mathematics and computational algebra. While the use of modern algebraic methods is now in mainstream mathematical biology research, this trend has been slow to influence the undergraduate math and biology curricula, where classical difference and differential equation models still dominate. Students interested in mathematical biology have relatively easy access to courses that utilize these classical analytic methods, and they generally have adequate exposure to such methods before deciding upon a graduate program. However, students interested in algebraic and discrete mathematical approaches have fewer doors visibly open to them, and indeed may not even know that they exist. There is a general lack of awareness in the academic community for the critical impact of such approaches on contemporary biology and there is an urgent need to develop educational resources highlighting this growing trend. Our 2.5-day workshop brought together a diverse group of faculty from the field of algebraic and discrete mathematical biology to address this need by: 1) surveying existing educational resources in discrete and algebraic mathematical biology; 2) identifying topics appropriate for undergraduates not yet featured in the existing literature; 3) identifying target courses in the mathematics and biology curricula that would benefit most from featuring those topics; 4) initiating the development of new curricular materials and ultimately publishing the materials for those topics; 5) facilitating the growth of a community of faculty actively involved in creating and using curricular resources for algebraic mathematical biology.

Invited speakers:

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Evaluation Report

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Algebraic Mathematical Biology WordPress site

Presentations were available for viewing via live streaming during the workshop.

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photo. Summary Report. TBA

NIMBioS Investigative Workshops focus on broad topics or a set of related topics, summarizing/synthesizing the state of the art and identifying future directions. Workshops have up to 35 participants. Organizers and key invited researchers make up half the participants; the remaining participants are filled through open application from the scientific community. Open applicants selected to attend are notified by NIMBioS within two weeks of the application deadline. Investigative Workshops have the potential for leading to one or more future Working Groups. Individuals with a strong interest in the topic, including post-docs and graduate students, are encouraged to apply. If needed, NIMBioS can provide support (travel, meals, lodging) for Workshop attendees, whether from a non-profit or for-profit organization.

A goal of NIMBioS is to enhance the cadre of researchers capable of interdisciplinary efforts across mathematics and biology. As part of this goal, NIMBioS is committed to promoting diversity in all its activities. Diversity is considered in all its aspects, social and scientific, including gender, ethnicity, scientific field, career stage, geography and type of home institution. Questions regarding diversity issues should be directed to You can read more about our Diversity Plan on our NIMBioS Policies web page. The NIMBioS building is fully handicapped accessible.

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From 2008 until early 2021, NIMBioS was supported 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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