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Description Participants Agenda (TBA)

NIMBioS Tutorial

Algebraic and Discrete Biological Models for Undergraduate Courses


Math-bio image.

Topic: Algebraic and discrete biological models for undergraduate courses

Meeting dates: June 18-20, 2014. Participants are expected to arrive on June 17 and depart on June 21.

Location: NIMBioS at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Raina Robeva, Mathematical Sciences, Sweet Briar College
Robin Davies, Biology, Sweet Briar College
Terrell Hodge, Mathematics, Western Michigan Univ.
Matthew Macauley, Mathematical Sciences, Clemson Univ.

Description: The field of mathematical biology has been transformed over the past 15 years by researchers using novel tools from discrete mathematics and computational algebra to tackle old and new problems.

This tutorial will expose participants to algebraic and discrete approaches to problems from modern biology including gene regulation, gene identification, RNA folding, phylogenetics, and metabolic pathway analysis. The tutorial format will be interactive lectures with quick exercises on each topic, followed by structured hands-on activities during which participants will work in small groups on exercises and projects. During lectures and interactive sessions, participants will learn web-based software systems and databases that students in their courses can use.

This tutorial is appropriate for both mathematics and biology faculty. In particular, it targets undergraduate faculty teaching modern algebra, finite mathematics or mathematical modeling, or intermediate and advanced undergraduate biology, but many topics may also be appropriate for introductory biology courses. All introductory lectures to the tutorial topics will be accessible for both math and biology faculty and will cover the basic biology and mathematical methods, models, heuristics, computational approaches, and the relevant software. Participants will have the opportunity to customize their tutorial experience by opting for lectures and activities at two different levels - one introductory and one more advanced.

Tutorial objectives:

  • Participants will be introduced to the importance of algebraic and discrete methods and models in modern biology, as an alternative to classical continuous methods based on calculus and differential equations. They will learn how to use such methods and/or build and analyze models in the context of the tutorial's topics and will work in small groups to experience how to use the methodology to describe, simulate, and analyze the relevant biological systems.
  • Participants will be exposed to software that implements the mathematical methods, aids visualization, and facilitates the computations and analyses.
  • Participants will learn of existing curricular resources related to the tutorial's topics, including exercises, projects, solution guidelines, and/or computer code and data. They will receive guidance on how the tutorial materials may fit into mathematics and biology courses or be used as an introduction to independent studies or undergraduate research.

Databases and software to be covered will include (but not limited to) DVD and ADAM (for visualization and analysis of Boolean and finite dynamical systems models), CpG Educate (for CpG island identification), BioNJ and TreeDyn and/or related analogues (for phylogenetic tree reconstruction), Metacyc, KEGG, and/or BIGG (for metabolic pathways), and Pfold (for RNA secondary structures).

Possible courses this tutorial would apply to in either math or biology or integrated curriculum: finite mathematics, discrete structures, linear algebra, modern algebra, graph theory, topology, probability, statistics, modeling, bioinformatics and biostatistics, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, ecology, phylogenetics, and evolution.

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The application process is now closed.

photo. Summary Report. TBA