Seminar: "When Math met Biology -- Is it an Optimal Relationship?"
Fri, 28 Feb 2014 12:20 PM - 1:10 PM
"When Math met Biology -- Is it an Optimal Relationship?"
D. Brian Walton, Associate Professor
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
In 2007, the Mathematics and Biology departments applied for and received an NSF grant to provide research experiences to teams of mathematics and biology undergraduate students working on interdisciplinary problems. Over the course of five years, 40 students, 10 biology faculty, and 5 mathematics and statistics faculty worked in 18 different teams on 10 different projects. This talk uses the common thread of mathematical optimization as a tool to introduce a variety of projects in which I helped serve as one of the faculty mentors. I will talk about the processes of converting biological phenomena into mathematical models and of interpreting the mathematical into biologically meaningful results. Examples will include the use of morphometrics to analyze metamorphosis of Xenopus laevis, the use of statistics and likelihood to analyze sequence patterns in copepod DNA, and the use of mathematical models on the mating behavior of the dung beetle Onthophagus taurus.